Reader Letter: Good high school provision in Earlham is essential

City Academy in Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

City Academy in Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The Evening News reported on a wobble in the fortunes of City Academy Norwich last week after it was set to be branded a 'coasting school,' but this story has a familiar ring to former governor.

This school and its predecessor Earlham High School have experienced many ups and downs during the time I have known them — as a governor for 20 years up to the time of the transition to Academy status, and more recently as a concerned observer.

The constant factors have been:

1) staff, the great majority of whom, despite high turnover, are hard working and dedicated to the education and well being of their students; 2) students from a limited catchment area with more than its fair share of social problems. These two groups have worked in a variety of regimes: Comprehensive High School, Sports College, Academy and under a variety of heads and inspection methods.

There have been good, indifferent and bad exam results and Ofsted reports, usually in a cycle of around seven to 10 years. The school's best periods usually follow events such as the recruitment of an inspiring new head, or the achievement of a new status (Sports College; Academy) which injects new resources and raises morale.


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The chronic difficulty has always been to sustain improvement.

Changes in leadership and in government education policy can be beneficial — but can also blow a vulnerable school off course. This has happened more than once. The answer is not an easy one. A stable environment in which to flourish would help, and a wider catchment area with students from NR2 and NR4 alongside those from NR5, could benefit everyone.

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Whatever the future, good quality high school provision located in or very near Earlham is essential.

Dr John Thurman, Bluebell Road, Norwich.

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