‘Distracted’ governors and senior staff accused of putting Stalham High’s existence at risk as Ofsted puts school into special measures

Melinda Derry pictured in 2009 when she took over as headteacher at Stalham High School
. Melinda Derry pictured in 2009 when she took over as headteacher at Stalham High School .

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
8:21 AM

A Norfolk high school has been put into special measures eight months after it was judged as good by Ofsted.

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Stalham High School on Brumstead Road was rated as inadequate in all four key areas following an unexpected inspection on November 26-27.

The damning report said Melinda Derry, headteacher at the time, was absent during the visit.

It was revealed that Ms Derry went off sick on November 26, according to Norfolk County Council, and on January 26 it was reported that she had resigned after being off ill for several weeks.

Her place has been taken, for the spring and summer terms, by executive headteacher Gerard Batty, who is currently head of Hellesdon High School, Norwich.

The damning Ofsted report said results in 2013 fell sharply, compared to exam achievement the previous year, and students had made poor progress especially in maths and science.

It added:

■ Students’ day-to-day experience of school is

not good enough. Some students are concerned about racist attitudes.

■ Governors and senior leaders have been too distracted by a number of internal issues. As a result, they have not made adequate plans for the long-term strategic improvement of the school and its existence has been put at risk; they have failed to win the complete confidence of parents, staff and all governors.

■ Particular groups of students make too little progress. These include lower ability students, some of whom are disabled or have special educational needs and boys, including more-able boys in some subjects.

■ Much teaching is inadequate and leadership of teaching is weak. Teachers do not set high enough expectations of what students should achieve and professional development of staff is having little impact on achievement.

■ The school leadership team is too small to have enough impact across the wide agenda of improvement priorities.

The four main areas which were inspected were achievement of pupils; quality of teaching; behaviour and safety of pupils; and leadership and management.

Inspectors said the school had not been able to sustain improvement after 2012 results showed a “considerable

improvement” in the proportion of students getting five or more GCSE grades of C or above, including English and maths. The figure in 2012 was 58pc.

The number of students achieving five or more GCSE subjects at grade C or higher including English and maths fell to 46pc last year.

Good points in the report included the majority of students were generally well behaved around school and with each other; the school had outstanding teaching in a few subject areas; recent additions to the management team had increased capacity for improving teaching; and persistent absence was being reduced.

For a full report, read tomorrow’s EDP.

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