A school known for its pioneering ideas aimed at improving education within rural Norfolk has been placed in special measures.

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Hockwold and Methwold Community School, which became the first in the county to amalgamate primary and secondary pupils last year and also offers degree courses, was found to be “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors.

Literacy in particular needed to be improved as a “matter of urgency”, they found, while “too much” teaching was inadequate or satisfactory and middle management was lacking the capacity to deliver pupils’ needs.

Some 24 teachers and 27 lessons were observed over two days in January by a team of five inspectors.

Chief inspector Lindsay Hebditch said in a report: “The school’s overall effectiveness is inadequate. Pupils’ attainment is below average and the progress they make is too variable. In mathematics pupils make good progress, but in English progress is inadequate.

“After a satisfactory start in the Early Years Foundation Stage, pupils do not make enough progress with their reading because they have insufficient opportunities to develop their skills. By the time they reach the secondary phase, pupils have a fragile grasp of reading and writing, which slows their subsequent progress. In particular, low ability boys make very slow progress.” She said the school, which has 826 students, needed to improve pupils’ reading by enabling them to practise their skills, improve literacy by developing a policy for the whole school and provide clear guidance for teachers. Consistent standards of marking should be implemented, she added, lessons should be challenging for students at all levels, best-practice should be shared between departments and the curriculum should be improved.

The school merged pupils from Methwold High and Hockwold Primary in September last year and saw 15 extra children pass through its doors last term, up from 93 at the same time last year.

The amalgamation now means many pupils are taught at the same school throughout their education, from four to 18-years-old.

It also extended its age range of education for older pupils and began offering degree and distance learning courses in September, with the aim of providing a credible alternative for school-leavers and mature students in an area where higher education is often out of reach, culturally and financially.

The programme also received a pat on the back from the government when head Denise Walker visited minister for universities and science David Willetts during the planning stages.

Chair of governors, Jeff Prosser said he was “disappointed” with the inspection results, but had held a meeting with parents and outlined a plan to address the criticisms. He added: “We were one of the first schools in the country to be inspected under the new scheme which only came in on January 1 and it is clear the goal posts have been moved quite significantly.

“Nevertheless there are obvious areas where we need to improve and these have been highlighted as our performance in English examinations, the teaching of literacy throughout the school and in some instances the quality of some of our teaching.

“We are already putting in place actions to deal with the criticisms of the inspectors and have been assured of the full support of the Local Education Authority in giving us the help we need.

“Hockwold and Methwold Community School has a strong future ahead of it and with a partnership between the school, the LEA, parents and staff we will reverse the harsh judgements currently being made.”

rebecca.gough@archant.co.uk

13 comments

  • Hockwold and Methwold (high school site) is well managed and the children are well behaved and respectful. My son is there, he came from Downham High along with a flood of other children escaping the bullying, lack of discipline and chaos of this other high school (you can certainly expand your horizons there but not in a good way!) It's a small school and that is a good thing. The teachers work very hard and ok ofsted found a problem with literacy. Quite frankly the literacy at this school is better than others, so ALL high schools should be very worried about the new style Ofsted inspections. This school has the right team to bring about change. I support my son's school.

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    SharnieB

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

  • Great points made here! How true about instructors and even WORSE most children taught for at least 10% of their time at school by Teaching Assistants (TA) expected to do a teacher's job on a third of the pay. My son at primary sch was badly "taught" by a TA for over a day pw in his final yr simply to save supply teaching money.

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    Sportswagon

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

  • As someone who knows the school well I can honestly say that it has come a very long way under the current leadership. There is always room for improvement but most staff whether qualified teachers or instructors work exceptionally hard for the good of the pupils under their care. OFSTED is only a very small snapshot and can damage a schools reputation unecessarily. You only have to look at the trajectory of this schools exam results over the last few years to notice the improvements in students outcomes. This doesn't happen by accident!!

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    Clementine

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

  • Same old story looking at the report-low expectations of Norfolk children so they are ill served by their teachers . To even create this school, especially the high school, shows that whoever was behind it was happy to have a cosy little school which would be just good enough for the locals, without having any ambition for them. Anyone notice the number of "instructors" on the staff list ? ie not qualified teachers-there is no shortage of teachers, kids deserve better than this.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • Methwold High School has gone down hill since joining with the junior school. That should never happen. That was a money saving exercise that has backfired. I could list countless complaints I have made over the past year and it does not help when the people that matter do not reply!!

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • why does everyone jump on the bandwaggon,get behind the school. over the past few years the school has improved so much.one ofsted report and the world is going to end?

    Report this comment

    Gillian Balmer

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • R U really surprised when u have one high school headteacher and a poor old deputy left to run the primary sch. If u run schools on the cheap u won't get the best outcomes.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • Methwold high school has come a long way over the last ten years and as I understand it there are areas that are not as strong as they perhaps could be. A damning report as I believe this is only serves to create an environment where parents resent the staff that actually are trying to do the best they can for the pupils with the resources that they have. I agree that rural schools struggle to achieve in the same vein as a school in a built up area but the school has in the past and still continues to send out young people into the community who have high morals and respect. please don't condemn a school that has lead the way in the county over one report. It is your school for your children, get behind it and support the people who have the skills and knowledge to help your child achieve.

    Report this comment

    kip

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • OFSTED and the tories are fools to themselves. It's clear from the number of schools which have been downgraded under the new inspection regime that the goalposts have been moved, as the chair of governors said. But when you are in a situation where staff are constantly having to jump through ever more ridiculous hoops, only to find their efforts coming to nought, at some stage they are going to say 'to hell with it' and stop bothering. If I was minded to be cynical, I might suggest that it is in OFSTED's interest to downgrade schools to satisfactory or below, thereby doubling the frequency of future inspections - in a time when everyone's job is under threat, it pay to make work for yourself, even if it is at the expense of someone else's. But, at the end of the day, when you create a 'dog eat dog' society, don't be surprised if you are the one who ends up being torn to shreds.

    Report this comment

    John Blunt

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • I view this sort of school with some unease. The pupils by and large must come from a rural area, some from quite isolated communities. To be educated from 4 til 18 in the same school with the same group of peers and same teaching staff and management teams must be very claustrophobic. Plus the school is barely more than twice the size of a large urban middle school-how can it possibly have enough children to stream and set for GCSE let alone A levels and offer sufficient choice? There are high schools at Swaffham Downham or Thetford which could give the children chance to expand their horizons. It is almost as if someone has said this is good enough for these rural kids and now we see that they are being failed wholesale. It smacks of the tiny isolated schools we read about in the USA and should never have been permitted-Methwold High should have been closed long ago on the basis that it was too small as a secondary modern and certainly too small as an 11 to 18 comprehensive.

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    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • Methwold and Hockwold community school has come a long way over the past ten years and yes I agree that there may be some areas where the school is not as strong as it could be.Please do not slate the school over one bad report. Teachers enter the profession because they care and want to help and parents send their children to school to learn. If you look at previous reports they offer an insight into what the school is really like. Methwold is an innovative school and a pioneering one within Norfolk LEA. The school has in the past and still does send out our children with the skills sets that arm them for the future so get behind the school and support the staff so that this valuable LOCAL resource can once again shine.

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    kip

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

  • While I am uneasy about all age schools, I wonder if the so called inspectors (probably failed teachers who jumped ship), would be any better at raising standards. Most teachers I know do a good job with limited resources and damn all support from government or parents when it comes to matters of discipline etc. Mustn't upset the little darlings' human rights.

    Report this comment

    Tractorboy

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

  • Hockwold and Methwold (high school site) is well managed and the children are well behaved and respectful. My son is there, he came from Downham High along with a flood of other children escaping the bullying, lack of discipline and chaos of this other high school (you can certainly expand your horizons there but not in a good way!) It's a small school and that is a good thing. The teachers work very hard and ok ofsted found a problem with literacy. Quite frankly the literacy at this school is better than others, so ALL high schools should be very worried about the new style Ofsted inspections. This school has the right team to bring about change. I support my son's school.

    Report this comment

    SharnieB

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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