December 11 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Friday, September 13, 2013
North Walsham Junior School is no longer failing according to its latest Ofsted report.
Delighted executive headteacher Clare Fletcher says the turnaround has happened in a much shorter time than average.
Last September parents were told that the Manor Road school had been placed in special measures by Ofsted after being judged “inadequate” in four out of five categories.
But the latest government inspectors’ report, published this week, has moved the 295-pupil school up to the “requires improvement” category.
Mrs Fletcher said the upgrade was a “major achievement” because the average length of time it took most schools to reach that stage was five terms whereas North Walsham had managed it in three.
The report judged the behaviour and safety of pupils as “good” but pupils’ achievement, the quality of teaching, and leadership and management all “required improvement” before the school could be further upgraded to an overall “good” ranking.
Mrs Fletcher, formerly headteacher of the neighbouring infant and nursery school - judged “outstanding” by Ofsted - became executive head of both when they formed a federation last September, and immediately set about improving the junior school.
“We made it clear that we have very high expectations and there was lots of support for staff to meet them,” said Mrs Fletcher, who has a track record of supporting schools in difficulty and is training to be an Ofsted inspector herself.
A “huge amount” of extra support from teaching assistants had been used to help pupils catch up. Older children had been given extra challenges by a high school maths teacher, the curriculum had become more exciting, more staff training had been carried out, routines and procedures tightened and children had been made aware that they had to help themselves learn by turning up on time and doing their homework.
The latest report said pupils’ progress was not consistently good, not all teaching consistently challenged pupils, subject leaders did not yet consistently use data on pupils’ progress to drive up standards, and teachers’ pay was not yet firmly linked to their pupils’ achievements.
But it noted that pupils were making faster progress than in the past and reaching higher standards. Mrs Fletcher and senior leaders understood exactly what needed to be done to make the school “good” and were well supported by governors.
Among comments, the report said: “The school has eradicated the inadequate teaching seen at the last inspection.”
Mrs Fletcher added: “It’s a different place this September. Staff are revitalised and sure of the direction they need to be heading in, and ready for the challenges facing us to make sure we continue to improve.”
The school was visited by former pupil, now North Walsham Mayor, Jacqueline Belson this week.
Mrs Belson congratulated everyone on a “fantastic achievement” and wished the school every success in aiming for the top “outstanding” status.