Search

Ofsted report is overdue as head teacher resigns

21:35 26 January 2014

Melinda Derry pictured in 2009 when she took over as headteacher at Stalham High School
.

Melinda Derry pictured in 2009 when she took over as headteacher at Stalham High School .

The head of Stalham High School has resigned after being off ill for several weeks.

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.

The news of Melinda Derry’s departure comes as the school waits for the imminent publication of its latest Ofsted report which followed an unexpected inspection.

Her place has been taken by executive headteacher Gerard Batty, who is currently head of Hellesdon High School, Norwich.

A spokesman for government inspectors Ofsted said they had visited Stalham High on November 26.

According to Norfolk County Council Ms Derry went off sick on November 26.

In a message to parents on the school website, Mr Batty says: “I am not breaking any confidences to share with you that the inspection did not go as well as the school would have hoped.”

Last April the school was celebrating when Ofsted bumped it up a grade from its previous “satisfactory” ranking to “good”.

But Tony Ross-Benham, who recently took over as chairman of governors at the 468-pupil Stalham High, said that the school had been over-ranked, based on the figures and data available.

“They shouldn’t have given us that mark. Our exam results in the summer were down as well,” said Mr Ross-Benham.

The school’s A*-C GCSE pass rate, including English and maths, dropped from its best-ever result of 59pc in 2012, to 46pc last year.

The publication of the Ofsted report is overdue. Its delay is because of new guidance for inspectors being introduced nationally.

The Ofsted spokesman said a number of reports were being reviewed to make sure they complied with the new guidance and she was unable to say when it would be published.

Mr Ross-Benham said the delay was unsettling for staff, governors and parents. “It’s confusing, and it’s not good for staff morale either,” he said.

“We all want to know what the report says so that we know what the next course of action will be.”

Ms Derry joined the school as head in January 2009. In a statement Norfolk County Council said: “Ms Derry has been a committed professional, dedicated to improving the life chances of the students in her care, and we wish her well for the future.”

■ Has your school got an Ofsted story, good or bad? Contact newsdesk@archant.co.uk

24 comments

  • What a load of pitchfork waving is going on here. The winners from this won't be the pupils or the staff, that's for sure. As for compromise agreements, wait and see how much gets forked out on those during academy conversion.

    Report this comment

    wook

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • This story is being stage managed. Has the EDP got the courage to question the conduct of the Headteacher and the Governing Board to investigate the huge waste of public money due to poor management. Easy to blame Ofsted but why did they return so quickly? Could it have been that Ofsted were misled in March? Were there complaints from parents?

    Report this comment

    namaste

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • namaste-the earlier report is online Frankly I cannot see what the school was doing wrong-but it is interesting that the inspectors chose say this about Norfolk CC "Although the local authority holds a significant amount of data on the school, there is little evidence to show that this evidence is verified, first hand, in other ways than through the annual published data. The local authority does not get involved with monitoring the quality of teaching or the progress made by students in lessons. The local authority has a light-touch approach to this school, even though it has been in a very vulnerable position in recent years. The support that is provided through the ‘improvement professional’ visits, is seen as a practice for the types of questions asked by inspectors rather than giving the school support in how to further improve or on how to moderate judgments made in lesson observations. However the school leaders do value the support provided by the local authority’s finance team and the data team when they are identifying patterns and trends in the published data" So it sounds as if Stalham is another Norfolk school left to struggle unaided by the council and ripe for Ofsted to go in, rip apart and hand over to an academy trust to grow fat on. I feel quite sorry for the staff and pupils.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • This is no such thing Wook. This is a call for transparency and accountability. SHS is a case in point, but it is unlikely to be the only 'bad apple' on the NCC tree! We, as taxpayers, should be baying for blood that any children in our county are suffering because of incompetence within the Local Authority and yet the statistics say it all - our children underperform. There have been leadership and governance problems at SHS for several years and yet NCC's statement about Ms Derry's performance suggests nothing but praise for her - why? This can only be to deflect criticism from their own door. We have had Ofsted's pronouncement on NCC's performance - things need to change and quickly! What is Mick Castle doing to make improvements? I seem to recall an interview early in his career as cabinet member for schools when he stated that he would fall on his sword if there was no rapid improvement - I think Mr Castle, that time has come.

    Report this comment

    Pauline

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Ms Derry was a totally committed headteacher who had picked up SHS from a very low point to a situation where steady improvements were being made. For two years running the school saw impressive improvement in the results- and by no means was Stalham the only county school to take a drop in their English results this year- in a school as small as SHS, even 5-10 students dropping a grade would cause what seemed to be a dramatic fall. Results in English at the top end (AA*) improved significantly at SHS last year. If SHS deserved a second Ofsted visit on the 2013 results then so did several other schools in the county- what about CAN for example? And many other schools who dropped to the 40-45% mark?Also, Ofsted make judgements on many factors- lesson observations, scrutiny of work, discussions with staff and students- how can these things be good one moment and poor six months later with the same leadership, staff and students? I am sure there is far more to this story, but the presentation of Ms Derry in the comments people have made must not go unremarked- it is totally unfair.

    Report this comment

    wook

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Of course they are!!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Frodo, the report says that Maths and Science were improving? The data dashboard suggests not for Science but it does show a Maths improvement. This farce says more about Ofsted than about the school, surely?

    Report this comment

    wook

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • I suspect very strongly that these attacks on the brilliant Ms Derry are from those staff she had the courage to remove thus raising results and now they are venomously attacking her. Ofsted own goal I suggest since if they attack those doing their dirty work they will soon have only weak money grabbing academy acolytes left and they really will have problems!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

  • Well spotted Frodo. I suggest SHS remove the previous Chair's statement. Maybe the truth has to out before everyone can move forward. I do however, wish Mr Batty and his team every success in raising the morale of staff, parents and students.

    Report this comment

    namaste

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Three thoughts. Would it be too cynical to wonder whether OFSTED’s delay is more about not appearing incompetent last April? Which is judgement is the fair one: last March’s, this one which “did not go as well as the school would have hoped”, or neither? Also we see the Governors (and the Local Authority?) recognizing that OFSTED were too generous last time. Bet they kept quiet about it though, took the credit, paid the Head her PRP, and relaxed. Last but certainly not least, don't see that Mr Ross-Benham’s comment mentions the pupils. Funny that. Aren’t they a school’s priority? While Ms Derry might well have been dedicated to improving their life chances, were she and the Governors actually successful in doing so? The exam results suggest not really. Still, must get on with the Post OFSTED Action Plan, leaving even less productive time for the children. Bonkers.

    Report this comment

    Landshipping

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Wake up and smell the coffee, Wook. There IS far more to this story indeed. In the five years since Melinda Derry took up her first headship at SHS, there have been numerous staff issues and staff removals, a number of costly compromise agreements, removing much needed funding for pupils with a number of complaints still to be resolved. There's also the question of the coming and going of five Chair of Governors during her headship, three of these in the last 14 months. Daisy Roots reports that the LA has "a light touch approach" to the school - is this where part of the problem lies? One of these chairmen was removed by the LA - an unusual move in itself. Perhaps then would have been the time for a more rigorous involvement. It might have saved the school's pupils and staff from the pain that is likely to result from a poor Ofsted pronouncement, which now appears to be the likely outcome. Come on EDP - take up Namaste's challenge and find out the truth.

    Report this comment

    Pauline

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • The politics are fairly obvious. Stalham Junior was a good school for over thirty years but in the 2013 swoop it went into Special Measures. By finding an excuse to add Stalham High to a straight-through academy package, it becomes a much more attractive proposition to potential sponsors. I wouldn't be surprised if those talks aren't currently underway behind closed doors.

    Report this comment

    Ghost

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Come on NCC update your web site, you still have Melinda Derry as the head of Stalham High School.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • When I cast my eye over SHS after the 'good' report, I noticed the Maths department was weak and the science department was very weak. Even then I was a little surprised that a school with these weaknesses was classed as 'good'. Looks like my suspicions were not without foundation.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • How strange it is that Stalham was the only secondary to receive a good grade in the recent swoop and then is inspected again six months later. This is political, pure and simple.

    Report this comment

    wook

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • I feel sorry for the staff at this school. It is stressful enough to go through an Ofsted inspection, let alone twice in 6 months, but for your Head teacher to conveniently go sick on the day of an inspection is shocking. Quite a vote of confidence in your staff and your school. I just hope NCC are not kicking off the new year as they ended last with a bill for £500k in compromise agreements. This money would have been better off being spent on the education of the children in this county who desperately need it.

    Report this comment

    Panksy

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • This is no such thing Wook. This is a call for transparency and accountability. SHS is a case in point, but it is unlikely to be the only 'bad apple' on the NCC tree! We, as taxpayers, should be baying for blood that any children in our county are suffering because of incompetence within the Local Authority and yet the statistics say it all - our children underperform. There have been leadership and governance problems at SHS for several years and yet NCC's statement about Ms Derry's performance suggests nothing but praise for her - why? This can only be to deflect criticism from their own door. We have had Ofsted's pronouncement on NCC's performance - things need to change and quickly! What is Mick Castle doing to make improvements? I seem to recall an interview early in his career as cabinet member for schools when he stated that he would fall on his sword if there was no rapid improvement - I think Mr Castle, that time has come.

    Report this comment

    Pauline

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Like Pauline, I support Namaste's challenge to the EDP to look further into this situation. Much more to be told.

    Report this comment

    Pendragon

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Perhaps Wook there were serious underlying issues in the school which required a further OFSTED inspection in order to get to the bottom of them. The inspection may have been conducted in the best interests of all concerned. It is unuaual is it not to insepct twice in one year and therefore OFSTED should be the one to explain why a second inspection in such a short timeframe was necessary. If there were no problems Wook why have both the Headteacher and the Chair of Governors walked in rapid succession? It is not for me to say but I would like to see the OFSTED report when it comes out before commenting further and maybe a little more delving by the EDP to find out what is happening as they would be impartial in their reporting!

    Report this comment

    X

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Well my earlier comment seems to have disappeared. Unless we know the facts V, we cannot judge the competence of this professional-we do know that Ofsted is on a mission to "academize" schools and is destroying teachers in the process. I believe some Norfolk comprehensives struggle to do well because the schools are sometimes as small as some junior schools. Stalham school, with a 100% intake , is smaller than my school was with an intake of just 15% of the year group. It is obvious that each set or stream in a year group is going to comprise of far too large an ability range to teach easily and effectively. Our tin pot former secondary modern schools, with cheap buildings and some with inadequate grounds, should have never been turned into small comprehensives. They should have been amalgamated to create schools big enough to give pupils a fair chance, academically and with out of school activities. What a dreadfully parochial education and life for children living in rural areas-to be at school with the same people from age 4-16 and possibly never going to school more than a few hundred yards from your house in a big village or a small town. With schools like Stalham, Litcham and Terrington having less than perfect reports it is time for NCC to approach the government and say we need funding to amalgamate schools to produce the results you want. Problem is, the government would insist on academies, which we know is back door privatisation.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • So the new acting head of Stalham High currently runs a school linked to the same trust that will be taking over Stalham Junior on May 1st? That's interesting.

    Report this comment

    Ghost

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Regardless of whether you are a supporter of this head or not, the trigger for an OFSTED was 40% gold standard or less. This school was above this so there were obviously other reasons for this inspection which will come to light when the report is published. OFSTED don't just turn up for one complaint it would take more than that. As an ex OFSTED inspector maybe Miss Derry realised this and has her own reasons to not hanging around.

    Report this comment

    Panksy

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • I feel sorry for the pupils and staff too Daisyroots but we will have to see what the Ofsted report reveals and compare with the previous one with the next one. Unfortunately, compromise agreements and confidentiality clauses take away parents getting to the truth.

    Report this comment

    namaste

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Not surprising there's a delay. The powers that be have got themselves in a spot here. The SHS March Ofsted was quite clear - the school was good. Interesting to see what the latest report says - don't hold your breath though - we've got a rough idea what the 'next steps' are.

    Report this comment

    Ghost

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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

Latest from the EDP

Most Read

Featured Pages

Most Commented

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 23°C

min temp: 16°C

Listen to the latest weather forecast
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the EDP
digital edition

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up