New vision for Norwich’s troubled Hewett School
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A new vision has been set out for the troubled Hewett School in Norwich, which was placed in special measures last month.
Norfolk County Council has written to the Department for Education with plans to create a learning village on the Hewett school site.
This would ensure the continued education of the 600 students on the site, but without the school being turned into an academy.
The Hewett School received an 'inadequate' Ofsted rating, a judgement which could trigger conversion to an academy under independent control.
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But earlier this week, hundreds of people signed an online petition opposing any moves to turn the high school into an academy.
Richard Bearman, vice-chairman of the children's services committee, said that, as there was already a sports centre and a youth centre on the site, and it was also used by another school, it would meet the criteria to become a learning village.
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He said: 'The Hewett school site would become more of a campus for the community. We need to do something quickly so that educational provision can continue at the Hewett school.'
Interim director for children's services, Sheila Lock, said it was an exciting plan for Hewett 'that would see the current and future intakes still learning on the site, as part of a much wider learning campus'.
James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee, said they had drawn up a concordat with the city council, the community trust that owns the Hewett site, and other heads and principals in Norwich to work it up into a viable future-proof plan that would have the confidence and support of parents and local communities.
He added: 'We see this approach as central to improvement, not just immediately for current pupils at the Hewett School, but as a sustainable model of educational provision that will benefit the city in economic terms well into the future.
'The priority is to ensure continued education of the 600 students on the site, giving continuity and stability for students and their families.
'We would then want to craft a blueprint for the development for the site. We have tested our thinking with the DfE and hope to agree a short window in which to develop the blueprint.'
Sue Whitaker, Norfolk county councillor for Lakenham, said that a learning village could provide opportunities not just for children and young people but also for adults.
She said: 'An intergenerational hub at the site could unlock the great potential that exists in the area.'
Stephen Little, who has a son at the school, and is also a Green Party city councillor, launched an online petition against the school becoming an academy.
He attended a parents' meeting to discuss the proposals last night.
He said: 'A learning village seemed quite a loose concept at the meeting for many parents, and I think they are yet to make up their minds about it. But we were told that there have been learning villages set up elsewhere in the country.
'I'm really pleased that the county council is looking at another option to an academy.'
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