50% of secondary schools in the city are rated as ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted but inspectors found that Hull’s first free school, The Boulevard Academy, is already ‘Outstanding’ less than two years after opening.
Inspectors praised the way that the school has created an ‘ethos of high expectations’ which, ‘permeates all aspects of life in the academy’, despite the fact that its pupil cohort is significantly more disadvantaged than average. They described how, the school’s leaders have an , ‘ambitious vision for every student to achieve academic success, whatever their background’.
The school, which is located in a brand new building on the site of the Hull FC stadium, has made extensive use of the freedoms available to it as a free school.
For students, the biggest difference is the amount of time they spend in the school, with a longer school day, shorter summer holidays and teaching sessions taking place on Saturday mornings. In total, this means that students receive a full year of extra teaching time compared to those at other schools.
The curriculum they follow has also been adapted to offer a greater focus on literacy and numeracy, something which Ofsted inspectors found was a, “powerful force for improvement” which is allowing most students to exceed the standards expected for their age.
To give them the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for the work place, all students are given a business mentor or a learning coach. These mentors work with small groups of students to develop essential skills such as teamwork, innovation and creativity for the workplace and help them the students organise work experience or internships.
Reflecting on the school’s success so far, Principal Andy Grace, who inspectors described as, ‘the heartbeat of the school’, said that, ‘I am tremendously proud. An awful lot of hard work has gone into this. It is a tribute to the young people who are very, very proud of their school’.