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Impact2nd November 2023

From special measures to outstanding: Ark Little Ridge

Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy in Hastings has built a reputation for excellence since becoming an Ark school.

The main shift was the focus on staff development. The investment in us as people, in our confidence, in our belief in ourselves as teachers. The professional development was at every level. Whatever we aspired to, there was training for us to grow into it.

Kate Woolley Principal, Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy

When Ark Little Ridge joined the Ark network, it was rated as ‘Special Measures’ by Ofsted. Now, the school has an ‘Outstanding’ rating and has a higher than average rate of staff retention.

Today, 75 percent of children at Little Ridge reach the expected standard of progress, compared with a national average of 59 percent.

Kate Woolley, Principal explains:

“When we went into Special Measures it was a very difficult time. The school had always been popular in the community and we knew we were good teachers. We were determined not to let the outcome beat us because we knew who we were and what we stood for. Many of that original team have stayed to this day because of that defiance and our love for the school.

“I was a teacher at that time and was chosen to go on one of the leadership coaching courses. After doing some training, mentoring and coaching the opportunity of assistant head came up, which I was very nervous to apply for. From that, I moved into the role of headteacher a few years later. I really don’t think I’d be in the position I am now without that level of support. And I’ve never felt alone because of the relationships I’ve developed with our region of Ark schools, the regional director and the staff from across the country I’ve met at training.

“I’ve seen and been through every bit of the highs and lows that this school has had. I would say the journey for us has been about building. Team building, building relationships, building resilience and a community where there is togetherness. It’s been amazing to lead the school to this point. I’m proud of how far we’ve come but also what’s stayed the same. We’re still the same school in terms of what we mean for our community and the unique things that make us Little Ridge.”