A school where a high proportion of pupils are suspended was rated Requires improvement by Ofsted.

Ark Alexandra Academy, a comprehensive secondary school in Hastings, was told to improve in its latest inspection by the education watchdog.

Inspectors praised the school’s high expectations for pupils, but warned that the number of students who do not attend school regularly are not learning as well as they could be.

The school, which teaches over 1,500 pupils aged between 11 and 18, was inspected by five Ofsted inspectors, headed by lead inspector Zoe Enser.

In their report, published on May 10, inspectors said: “Too many pupils are not benefiting from the high-quality curriculum, especially more vulnerable pupils. While the school sets high expectations for behaviour and attendance, some pupils are not attending school regularly enough.

The Argus: The school was rated requires improvementThe school was rated requires improvement (Image: Google Maps)

“Additionally, there is a high proportion of suspensions because of pupils’ behaviour, which means that these pupils also miss school.”

Inspectors, who visited the school in February, said pupils with special educational needs and other disadvantages are particularly affected by these issues.

They said the quality of education at the school has improved since it was last inspected in 2021.

Overall, the school was rated good for its quality of education, personal development, leadership and management and sixth-form provision. It was rated requires improvement for behaviour and attitudes.

Rhys Spiers, executive principal of the school, said: "This report represents an important milestone in the school’s rapid improvement journey. We have big plans for the students of Ark Alexandra as we move at pace towards the school becoming a beacon for secondary state education. Hastings will have a first-class secondary school and we can’t wait to deliver this for the local community. We are looking forward to working with all stakeholders to bring them with us on this exciting journey.”

The report added: “Pupils are safe and have positive relationships with staff. Most feel confident about who they can talk to if they have any concerns. They are polite and articulate and are confident to express their views.

“Some staff feel that their workload is not being considered carefully enough when changes are introduced.

“The school’s relationship with parents is variable. Some parents are positive about the school, but others are critical about how the school supports their children.”

The Argus: Ark Alexandra Academy has two sitesArk Alexandra Academy has two sites (Image: Google Maps)

Ark Alexandra Academy has two separate sites – Helenswood in the Ridge, St Leonards, for Year 7 and 8 students, and William Parker in Park Avenue, Hastings, for Year 9 to 13 pupils.

Lorraine Clarke, regional director of Ark, the charity which runs the school: “We are delighted with this report and the rapid progress made under the new leadership team at Ark Alexandra. We know there is still more work to do. Behaviour and attitudes are the focus of our continued plan, and although that area still requires improvement, Ofsted recognised that behaviour is improving due to the school raising standards. 

“The recently appointed leadership team, expertly led by the experienced executive principal, Rhys Spiers, has clearly had a positive impact. It is great to see that inspectors have such confidence in the strategic direction of the school.”