Ofsted challenge head moves to key county post

Heateacher Mark Adams is leaving St Nicholas Priory Junior School after 16 years.Picture: James Bass

Heateacher Mark Adams is leaving St Nicholas Priory Junior School after 16 years.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A popular and respected headteacher says he is leaving the primary school he loves in good shape as he moves on to a key county hall post.

Mark Adams, is stepping down from the helm at St Nicholas Priory Primary School after 16 years.

He paid tribute to his staff and governors for standing by him during some turbulent times including a spell in special measures which saw him challenge Ofsted over the rating.

Leaving the school in Great Yarmouth's urban heart would be 'a wrench' after so many years in a community he was passionate about, he said.

But having worked in his new post part-time for a term he hoped he would be able to make a positive contribution to children's lives across the whole of Norfolk as part of the county council's 'achievement team.'

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Under a roving role he is being tasked with improving leadership across the county's 430 education providers and improving key stage two results in year six which currently lag 5pc behind the national average.

A special assembly was staged for him on the final Friday of term.

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When Mr Adams, 53, joined the school it was a middle school on a split site.

At the time the £1.5m refurbishment of the former hospital school was the county council's most expensive school project ever and the transfer from the priory buildings was completed soon after he arrived.

Since then various shake-ups have seen it move to a junior school, growing to a primary in September 2015 - a change that will be fully in place in 2017 when the current Reception year move through the school.

Mr Adams said he had a policy of treating all the children as if they were his own and a friendly approach to parents who are offered free tea and coffee and a chat every morning.

St Nicholas Priory is one of Norfolk's most diverse schools, its 415 pupils hail from 24 countries and speak 11 different languages.

In the year 2000 only a small percentage had English as an additional language compared to 38.7pc today - a change he says has enriched the school.

One of the biggest challenges has been attracting good teachers to the school although he has built a strong team.

And one of his proudest moments was recruiting former pupil Hannah Lawrence to the classrooms.

The father of five and grandfather of six, who lives with his family in Felixstowe, has worked in seven schools during his career and been a head for 23 years.

Not wanting to be a head in another school meant moving to the achievement team was a natural next step that would allow him to impact positively on many children.

'I will miss the children,' he said. 'I want the children to really, really love learning and to feel safe here and be happy.

'The school is getting better and better, the children love coming to school and I love being with them.'

The school's current deputy Maria Chadderton will continue in her role as acting head as the appointment process starts in January.

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