Ofsted’s praise for headteacher who transformed Upton Park school

Dr Tom Canning with his award

Dr Tom Canning with his award - Credit: Archant

A headteacher has been recognised by Ofsted after he managed to turn a school rated as ‘requires improvement’ into one that is ‘outstanding’ in just 18 months.

Dr Tom Canning took over Cleves Primary School as executive headteacher two years ago when the school formed a federation with Tollgate Primary School, where he had spent a decade in charge.

In the school’s most recent inspection, it made the jump from the second lowest rating to the highest – something Dr Canning said only a handful of schools have ever achieved.

“I was delighted, really delighted,” he said.

“It’s really rare to go from requires improvement to outstanding in all areas. Everyone has worked really hard.”


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Dr Canning’s letter of recognition, from chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, was one of just three across the country sent out to acknowledge exceptional leadership in schools.

Sir Michael wrote: “The journey for Cleves from requires improvement to outstanding is testament to your exceptional leadership and your willingness to play your part in the self-improving school system.

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“Your ambition for success and the culture of high expectations that you have created have significantly improved the quality of teaching at Cleves and raised the achievement of pupils across the school.”

Dr Canning insisted the work in transforming the school in Arragon Road, Upton Park, was not down to him alone.

“I couldn’t have done it without Sarah Lack,” he said.

“She moved across to Cleves as headteacher and has been an inspiration in lifting that school.”

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