The headteacher of a primary school that is starting a new life as an academy has said it needs to make dramatic levels of improvement – because pupils’ achievement is too far behind the national average.

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Louise Ward, principal of new Nelson Academy in Downham Market, said: “If we made expected progress, we would never close the gap.”

She said pupils had been “short-changed” at the former Clackclose Community Primary School – which was put into special measures by Ofsted in 2012 – and that ambitious targets had to be set to turn it around.

For example she wants the share of pupils at Key Stage One achieving level three in maths to rise by nearly a third, from 11pc to 33pc.

She also wants the amount of Key Stage One pupils reaching level three in writing to more than double – from 9pc to 20pc – and for 70pc of children in year one to pass a phonic screening test. 35pc passed it last year.

Of the targets, Mrs Ward said: “They need to be ambitious because the children have been short-changed for too long.

“The attainment gap between the levels our children obtain and the national expectations are far too big. Our children need to make very good progress to close the gap.”

She hopes the involvement of College of West Anglia (CWA) Academy Trust, which is sponsoring the new academy in Nursery Road, Downham Market, will help it to make the necessary improvement.

CWA principal David Pomfret said it was part of the college’s approach to establish a “family of academies” in west Norfolk.

The CWA already sponsors the Downham Market and King’s Lynn academies but also hopes to become involved in the King Edward VII School and Eastgate Primary School, both in Lynn.

Mr Pomfret said: “This family approach is about the trust supporting and working closely with schools in our community.”

He said the college could bring a lot of experience to the new academy, as it already runs early years education courses at its main Lynn campus for people aged over 16.

He added that those from the trust would work closely with the school to monitor performance and help bring about improvements in teaching, leadership and governance where needed.

Mrs Ward, who took over at Clackclose in September 2012, said she and her vice-principal would also observe lessons and give feedback to teachers on how to improve, before returning later to check the changes have been made.

“Almost all of our teachers now have successfully taken part in the improving teacher programme,” she said.

“Increasingly, our teachers are being graded as outstanding in inspections.”

Do you have a view about academies? Write, giving your full contact details, to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

8 comments

  • Fair point except that the fraud percentages for the 176 Free School is massively higher than LA maintained schools if based on those currently known about.

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    Sportswagon

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • Clackclose Community Primary has been waiting for improvement for more than a decade. Factor in that it used to have a reputation for being good for special educational needs. The bare facts in this article say nothing. The year one phonics test is dimissed by outstanding schools as some high achieving children use their wider knowledge and do not pass this farce of an exam. All in all I agree that the children of Downham Market need a better school but fail to see much hope of that just by reading this promotional article.

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    George Ezekial

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • Just watched an episode of pointless where a teacher didn't know that the Seine was a river in Paris (He thought it was in Venice even though Paris was one of the clues). Obviously general knowledge is not a requirement for QTS. Just looked at the NUT site, and they are against the phonics test....that means it is a good thing in my book.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • Bob has corrected me....the teacher said Vienna.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • For a good example of the dangers of having weak school governance in council schools (or is it normal for council schools), weak financial oversight by councils and cosy relationships between headteachers and school bursars look no further than St Kentigern's Primary School in Manchester. I have been waiting for one of these to pop up in Norfolk for years, perhaps this could be the year.

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    Rhombus

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • I just googled "headteacher fraud" for 2012 and had loads of hits. It seems that not just the heads of free schools are dipping into the educational pot. Council controlled schools seem very susceptable to fraud, especially if they employ a less than vigilant school bursor.....the sort they prefer.

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    Rhombus

    Friday, January 10, 2014

  • *ker-chinggg* What's David Pomfret on then for expanding his remit by another school or two? £100k? £120k? Let's hear the real story behind the wages of these 'altruistic' academy CEOs.... (By comparison, a Headteacher on NCC wages gets around £70k these days.)

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    User Removed

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • Precisely and what about the Kings Science Free Sch now all over the news for fraud!! Wake up England!!!

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    Sportswagon

    Friday, January 10, 2014

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