11 Sep '13

News Grimsby's 'old-fashioned but innovative' success story

Healing school has over the last few years become one of the most successful non-selective secondaries in England

Situated on the outskirts of Grimsby, Healing School – named after the village in which it is found – is one of the most successful state schools in England

The school has been many things since Ann Addison took over as headteacher a decade ago: a comprehensive, a foundation school and now an academy. But what it has done best is steadily improve its results and the achievement of its pupils.

Addison says she has simply created a climate within the school that allows each child to grow.

"Each child is known individually here and valued. We have very high expectations for each child, whether they come with the most brilliant results at key stage 2 (age 11) or they've underperformed or they've got special needs. We've got high expectations that each child will achieve their very best," she says.

She describes her school as both "terribly old-fashioned" and innovative.

"We provide a very disciplined learning environment. We've got all the latest computer technology – but we insist on manners, we insist on uniform standards, and I make no apologies for that," she says.

Teachers new to the school and those who have been there for years are expected to continue to develop, she says. The school has just posted another formidable set of GCSE results. This summer, for the fourth year in a row, more than four out of five of Healing's pupils achieved five A*-C grades, including English and maths, while 56% got three or more A*-A grades. Some 22 students managed 11 or more of the highest grades.

Its recent run of results is enough to put Healing among the top non-selective state schools in England. Ofsted rated the school outstanding in every department after its last inspection – something few other comprehensives can boast. According to the Guardian's GCSE school guide, the school is in a premier league of state schools with comprehensive intakes. The guide measures, among other things, a school's impact on its pupils. Using calculations developed by the Fisher Family Trust, school impact is a contextual value-added measure that uses a wide range of social and academic data to show how individual schools improve the results of their pupils compared with similar pupils in similar schools nationwide.

Taking into account previous attainment at key stage levels as well as social factors such as the proportion of pupils with special needs, Healing has combined above-average school impact with sustained excellent exam performance between 2009 and 2012.

When Michael Gove announced in 2010 that outstanding schools could convert to academy status, Healing was among the first to do so. But despite its achievements and popularity – it is heavily oversubscribed with half its intake coming from Grimsby – Healing has been unable to convince the Department for Education to allow it to grow.

"The government has a policy of expanding successful schools, we've applied several times for funding to expand our school, and we've been turned down every time. That's really frustrating," Addison says.

theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Read the full story in Guardian Education
Log in Join