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Reader Letter: Good high school provision in Earlham is essential

PUBLISHED: 15:29 30 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:29 30 October 2016

City Academy in Norwich. 

City Academy in Norwich. PHOTO BY 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.

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.

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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