Downham Market primary school working towards a brighter future
11:55 24 January 2013
Archant © 2013
After being told her school had been placed in special measures, West Norfolk headteacher Louise Ward admits she went back to her office and “cried her eyes out”.
She has been a headteacher for 22 years and had only been in her post at Clackclose Community Primary School for three months when she received the “heartbreaking” news from Ofsted in December.
But an hour later she, along with deputy headteacher Rebecca Westall, created and implemented an action plan for a better and brighter future for the school and its children.
It involved giving teachers and parents the ultimatum of staying or leaving while also trying to build the aspirations of the children.
And last night Mrs Ward said she hoped the Downham Market primary school would be taken out of special measures by April 2014.
“I knew the challenges the school faced but that’s why I wanted the job,” Mrs Ward said.
“Putting things right is what I like to do and with both my children having been through the school, I am passionate about its success.
“The problems this school has had go back years and when I started there was an enormous legacy of under-achievement. But the Ofsted report has completely galvanised everyone connected to the school and I know we are now on the right path.” One of the major changes during Mrs Ward’s leadership has seen the school’s motto change from “expect the best” to “loving learning”.
The library has also been moved to one of the school’s corridors to encourage children to enjoy reading outside the classroom.
“This is the heart of the school and moving the library here gives it a higher profile,” Mrs Ward continued.
“We’ve also put football bean bags here which has encouraged boys who previously were reluctant to read to sit down and read.” In their report, inspectors criticised the school for failing to fully address the “serious and long-standing” shortcomings in pupils’ progress, achievement and attainment, or in the quality of teaching.
Inspectors also found that children in need of extra help were not identified soon enough and boys were making significantly less progress in reading and writing than girls.
Overall, the Nursery Road school was found to be “inadequate” and failing to provide its 345 pupils an acceptable standard of education.
The report, however, said Mrs Ward had made a good start and was committed to raising achievement and improving the quality of teaching. “There are no quick fixes, but we have spent a great deal of time and put a great deal of effort into building an exciting curriculum and engaging parents,” she continued.
“We’ve got to see this as an opportunity and use it as a way of moving the school forward to a better future.”