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Under-achieving school joins academy trust after critical inspection report

PUBLISHED: 14:06 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:56 01 October 2019

North Walsham High School is joining the Enrich Learning Trust. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

North Walsham High School is joining the Enrich Learning Trust. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

A troubled school where inspectors said a "legacy of ineffective leadership" had hampered improvements has joined an academy trust.

Neil Powell, head of North Walsham High School. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNeil Powell, head of North Walsham High School. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

North Walsham High School was one of the few remaining local authority-maintained secondary schools in Norfolk before it joined the Enrich Learning Trust on October 1.

It comes nine months after a critical Ofsted report which judged the school to require improvement across the board.

The Enrich Learning Trust claims it has a "strong track record" of helping schools to improve and drive up academic performance - strengths on which North Walsham could capitalise.

Its chief executive Russell Boulton said: "We will use our knowledge and expertise to support the school on its improvement journey and to realise its own ambition of a high quality and rich experience for its pupils."

Neil Powell, headteacher at North Walsham High, feels academy conversion will allow the school to plough on with improvements.

"This presents us with the opportunity to continue the work we have started in the school's improvement journey with extremely capable and respected partners," he said.

When Ofsted inspectors visited North Walsham High in December 2018 they said its governors had "presided over a period of sustained underachievement" while attempts to address problems in teaching and management had been hampered by staff and parents "unwilling" to accept change.

At the time headteacher Neil Powell said the turbulence had stabilised, with new senior leaders in place and pupils starting to show progress.

But the judgement dealt a significant blow - applications data published in March showed 36pc of places in North Walsham High's year seven intake for the 2019/20 school year were empty.

Meanwhile the percentage of pupils achieving grade fours and above in GCSE English and maths fell from 61pc in 2018 to 45pc this summer.

The Enrich Learning Trust was formed from the merger of ieTrust and the Mid Norfolk Academy Trust earlier this year.

All of its five schools, which include Wymondham High Academy, Dereham Neatherd High and Long Stratton High, are judged to be good by Ofsted.

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