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Portland Spencer academy celebrates "Outstanding" Ofsted with ASPIRE Week

The week’s itinerary included a family breakfast, disco and rocket launch. To celebrate its recent “Outstanding” Ofsted rating, Portland Spencer Academy hosted a week of exciting activities for the children and their families, including a rocket launch on Wednesday.

The school was rated “Outstanding” for the first time in its history after a November inspection, which highlighted the “ambitious and intelligently designed” curriculum and “highly effective programme for pupils’ personal development” at the “highly inclusive school”.

The week’s programme was designed to highlight the school’s ASPIRE values, which guide staff and children. On Wednesday, pupils in Years 5 and 6 built rockets that they were invited to launch outside; the afternoon then concluded with the launch of two rockets provided by Starchaser Industries.

“It was really fun,” said one Year 5 pupil. “It went really high in the sky. We liked the view.”

Principal Joe Handy said, “The school’s inspection outcome was culmination of lots of people’s hard work and dedication – staff, children and parents as well as our wider community. We hope that our ASPIRE Week has given each and every person a chance to celebrate and reflect on this incredible achievement.

“Rockets may seem ‘out of this world’ but the school’s motto for many years has been ‘don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there’s footprints on the moon’ so we hope our rocket launch reminds our children that possibilities are endless if they work hard and ASPIRE in all they do.”

The children acknowledged that the experience was part of why they enjoy attending Portland Spencer Academy. “We’re very lucky to go to this school,” another Year 5 pupil said. “We get to go to lots of things we didn’t get to do at my old school.”

But the most word that came up most frequently when asked what they liked about their school was “kind”. “Teachers are kind and helpful and push you to do your best,” said one child; another added, “Some kids say they’re very bad at stuff, but then next term they know stuff they didn’t know before because teachers help them.”

Parents and carers, who were invited to view the rocket launch, held similar views. Caroline, whose granddaughter attends Portland Spencer Academy, expressed her admiration for teachers who offered one-on-one support for the Year 6 pupils’ upcoming SATs outside of regular class time. “They deserve the Ofsted,” she said. “It’s really an amazing school. They [pupils and teachers] really respect each other, and the teachers are amazing.”

Portland Spencer Academy was also praised for the sense of community it works to foster. Parents were excited to attend the rocket launch event, and expressed appreciation for the wide variety of family-inclusive activities throughout the year.

Jacqui, whose son and daughter both attend the academy, emphasised the value of community in her children’s learning: “It’s about the friendships and the happiness they have from being at school.”