North Walsham High School head disappointed at ‘contradictory’ Ofsted report

North Walsham High School head Caroline Brooker

North Walsham High School head Caroline Brooker - Credit: Archant

A north Norfolk headteacher says she is disappointed but determined to move forward after her school was judged to be 'requiring improvement' by Ofsted.

Government inspectors found North Walsham High required improvement in three of four categories - pupils' achievement, quality of teaching, and leadership and management.

But the behaviour and safety of pupils was rated 'good'.

Four inspectors visited the school on two days in the last week of the summer term, when head Caroline Brooker was still on a phased return to work after leaving the previous July to be treated for ovarian cancer.

Mrs Brooker, who returned full-time to work at the start of term last week, said the inspection was: 'a process that has been done to us and we must use it to improve.'

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But she queried 'contradictions' in the report and said some findings seemed 'harsh.'

Inspectors praised the school as 'calm and purposeful' and said students were keen to learn, behaved well and showed courtesy and respect.

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But they said the school was not yet 'good' because teaching was not consistently good, pupils with special needs did not progress like other students, some adults did not have high enough expectations of pupils, and students did not have enough opportunity to work independently.

The report also said some teachers did not match activities to students' abilities, marking needed improvement and governors were not involved enough in management of teachers' performance and in driving improvements.

But Mrs Brooker pointed out that the report also contained much praise with, among other instances, inspectors noting that English, maths and science were led and taught well, teachers had good subject knowledge, children listened and responded well in lessons, and the school had begun a series of visits to universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, to raise aspirations.

'Although we are pleased with the recognition of these strengths, we do acknowledge that we still have much to do,' said Mrs Brooker.

'We are regarding this report - even the parts we feel are unfairly harsh - as a useful tool to help us improve the quality of education we give our students.'

The school suffered a set-back last month when the number of GCSE students gaining at least five A*-C grades including English and maths dropped from 58pc the previous year to 42pc.

Mrs Brooker said they had asked for a number of the papers, especially English, to be re-marked, and were awaiting the outcome.

But she said results would definitely be higher this year because a substantial number of pupils, who took GCSEs early, had already achieved high enough grades.

'We are confident that we are moving forward,' Mrs Brooker added.

'I don't want the children of North Walsham to be disillusioned by anything an inspector says. The report recognises that they are well-behaved and ready to learn. It is full of praise for them.'

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