A SCHOOL in Clacton is celebrating after being told it is on the verge of becoming “outstanding” despite a surprise visit by Ofsted inspectors the day after a power cut.

Pupils and teachers were sent home from Clacton County High School after the power failure in Walton Road on January 8.

Shortly after the decision, the school received a call from Ofsted to say a one-day “short inspection” would take place the next day.

The report – published this week – said the school continues to be good, but it is improving towards becoming outstanding.

Principal Neil Gallagher said: “We made the decision to close the school just before lunch - we had no heating, computers or photocopiers and were on emergency lighting.

“The power was reconnected in the evening and I managed to get back on the computer to make preparations for the inspection.

“When we read the report, we realised that it went very well.

“Refreshingly, a number of staff came to me after the inspection to say that it felt like just an ordinary day – and that’s how it should be.

“It was a little frustrating as under Ofsted’s new procedures for a short inspection for existing good schools, they are only looking to confirm it is still good.”

If it had been a full inspection, the inspectors could have considered grading the school as “outstanding”.

Mr Gallagher added: “It would have been a fantastic achievement for the town to have an outstanding school.

“It’s a shame that wasn’t possible, but we achieved the best possible outcome given the changes at Ofsted.

“The school has improved and is moving towards being outstanding.

“This was a testament to all the hard work the teaching staff and support staff have put in to make the school a really fantastic place.”

The report praised the school’s Key Stage 4 results, which were in the top one per cent in the country.

It said sixth form students’ progress is very strong on academic courses and exceptional on vocational courses, that staff are diligent in ensuring child protection arrangements are in place and that pupils are self-assured learners who have excellent attitudes to learning .

Ofsted inspector Adrian Lyons added: “The school has demonstrated strong practice and marked improvement in certain areas.

“This may indicate that the school is improving towards being outstanding.

“Since the previous inspection, in March 2013, the school has improved steadily.”