Norfolk County Council and Ofsted to intervene after Stalham High School is put into special measures

Gerard Batty, who has taken over as executive headteacher at Stalham High School. Gerard Batty, who has taken over as executive headteacher at Stalham High School.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
8:00 AM

One of Norfolk’s smallest high schools has fallen into special measures just eight months after it was rated as good.

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Stalham High School, which has 468 pupils, was rated as inadequate by Ofsted in all four key areas following an unexpected inspection on November 26-27.

The damning report said Melinda Derry, headteacher at the time, was absent during the visit.

It was revealed that Ms Derry went off sick on November 26, according to Norfolk County Council, and on January 26 it was reported that she had resigned after being off ill for several weeks.

Her place has been taken, until this July, by executive headteacher Gerard Batty, current head of Hellesdon High School, Norwich.

The school had been bumped up to good from satisfactory, following an Ofsted inspection in March last year.

A key criticism in the report said: “Governors and senior leaders have been too distracted by a number of internal issues. As a result, they have not made adequate plans for the long-term strategic improvement of the school and its existence has been put at risk; they have failed to win the complete confidence of parents, staff and all governors.”

The four main areas which were inspected were achievement of pupils; quality of teaching; behaviour and safety of pupils; and leadership and management.

Mr Batty said the report was a disappointing judgement but staff were determined to work together.

He could see staff were ambitious for the school and wanted the best for students.

Ofsted acknowledged that changes to the management team were beginning to have an impact and there was some outstanding teaching on which they could build.

Behaviour in the school was generally good but there were some issues raised in the report that were of concern, “in particular the racist attitudes of a small number of students, and we are acting immediately to address these”. Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children’s services at the council, said: “We have been working to support the school for some time, however the school has not been making fast enough progress.

“There will now be greater scrutiny from ourselves, as well as from Ofsted, and we will be working to ensure that there is strong leadership and governance in place.”

Inspectors’ said the school governing body had been through “considerable turbulence”.

The report added: “There have been many changes of governors. Relations between the governing body and local authority have not been conducive to the school’s long-term improvement.

“The governing body and the headteacher have been involved in managing some protracted disputes. During this period less energy than necessary has been committed to securing the long-term future of the school.”

Norfolk County Council member Nigel Dixon looked into “mismanagement issues” within the governing body and the senior leadership team in March 2012 after parents raised concerns and described both groups as “dysfunctional”.

Mr Dixon, who represents Hoveton and Stalham, said he looked forward to supporting the school in driving the turn around process over the next year but believed the council should have intervened earlier.

A council spokesman said the authority had applied to the Department for Education for permission to replace the governing body with an interim executive board.

The report said the number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths, fell from 58pc in 2012 to 46pc last year.

It added that the school had not been able to sustain improvement and the rate of progress was lower than national figures, especially in maths and science.

Good points of the report were the school had outstanding teaching in a few subject areas; persistent absence was being reduced; recent additions to the management team had increased capacity for improving teaching; and the majority of students were well behaved around the school and with each other.

An Ofsted spokesman said: “The reports clearly set out the findings of the inspections and reasons behind the judgements.

“In relation to schools’ performance, this can improve and decline over a short period of time. As such and in line with Ofsted’s risk assessment, inspections can be brought forward, outside of the usual timescale, where there are concerns with a school’s performance.”

To view the full report and previous reports on the high school click on the link at the top right of this page.

What do you think of Ofsted inspections? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

8 comments

  • Since experienced and respected teachers the country over are reporting inconsistent inspections with conclusions that cannot be accounted for by rational beings why are we even debating this ? Gove jumped the shark months ago and this week's latest offering confirms he is well and truly in white jacket with leather straps country. It is time for the teaching unions and parent teacher organisations to go on the offensive because few if any of the introductions of the last few years have done any child any good- and possibly the reverse. Professionals and children have had their achievements and talents belittled and have been subject to assessment using completely random targets and standards , often by those who know nothing of education bar having been to school. I have had my appendix out, but I am not about to tell a surgeon how to conduct himself in the theatre. If the Tories think these policies are vote catchers they are wrong- all it is doing is making the uninformed think education is failing under this government and the informed think that education is being privatised by underhand means. Gove has to go and someone in government has to have the courage to form an independent body of academics and professionals to survey the real state of the nation's schools without an agenda other than what is good for children, because Ofsted is not looking after them.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Ms Derry went off sick on November 26, according to Norfolk County Council. Is that surprising with what is going on? Who in their right mind would want to enter this profession today?

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • We regularly had dealings with senior staff at Stalham High and always found them to be very professional. The authorities may want things kept quiet but it is essential that people question why a school rated 'Good' eight months before, was targeted in this manner.

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    Ghost

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Wow- Private Eye stuff in the comments section-now that is what the EDP should be doing, hang the court actions, get at the truth about what goes on in our schools.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Seems odd that the school was doing so well in march and now has to be put in 'special measures'. It also seems odd that offstead uses the phrase 'not enough progress',then some progress has been made?, and yet have seen fit to drop the school from above satisfactory to special measures when, by Offtead's own wording, it's making progress. It's no wonder that everybody is confused. Seems to me there is alot more going on here than meets the eye and I find myself agreeing with creating an inspection board of education professionals rather than pandering to an organisation than originally started out as a conservative 'Quangojobs for the boys' outfit. A shake up is needed yes, but in school inspection, not in form of 'privatization by the back door' that the Conservative party seem to want.

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    mojosabien .

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Don't be a Silly Billy, Millie - SHS isn't a good school - its a school that's in special measures, thanks to the performance and behaviour of the Head, ably assisted by her Deputy! Mr Batty has already confirmed to parents that he is in total agreement with the most recent pronouncement by Ofsted. So, stop flagwaving and accept it. And stop trying to convince others that Melinda Derry was good at her job, when in reality, she was totally out of her depth.

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    Pauline

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • What a waste of public money to ofsted a good school twice in 8 months. The school had the BEST head and has the BEST deputy head it has ever had. I think there has to be hidden agenda. What a an absolute nonsense it makes of ofsted.

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    Millie

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Don't be a Silly Billy, Millie - SHS isn't a good school - its a school that's in special measures, thanks to the performance and behaviour of the Head, ably assisted by her Deputy! Mr Batty has already confirmed to parents that he is in total agreement with the most recent pronouncement by Ofsted. So, stop flagwaving and accept it. And stop trying to convince others that Melinda Derry was good at her job, when in reality, she was totally out of her depth.

    Report this comment

    Pauline

    Monday, February 10, 2014

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

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