North Walsham Manor Road infants and junior schools join forces to create second-largest primary in Norfolk
Two North Walsham schools have joined forces under one head teacher to create Norfolk's second-largest primary, with an expected 600 pupils by September next year.
The bold move, linking the Manor Road infants and nursery, and junior schools, will see current infants' head Clare Fletcher take on a new role as executive head teacher from this September.
Paul East, chairman of the two schools' new federation governing body, said the change would bring huge benefits to North Walsham children and was about improving educational standards, not cost-cutting.
Mrs Fletcher, 48, had taken the infants' school from a 'good' to an 'outstanding' Ofsted rating in her 10 years as head of the 300-pupil infants' school.
'It will bring the positives from both schools together and help prepare children for high school,' said Mr East, who has a nine-year-old daughter, Gracie, at the 270-strong junior school.
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'It will mean continuity for children throughout their primary school years, a bigger school will give us more resources and greater flexibility in using them and it's a natural progression which makes geographical sense because both schools are on the same site.
'As a parent I'm thrilled. With Clare at the helm and, without doubt, a great leadership team in place, these are exciting times.'
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Mrs Fletcher's new appointment coincides with the retirement of Ruth Brumby, who has been head at the junior school for more than 15 years.
The new governors' body said in a statement that it had decided not to opt out of local authority control by becoming an academy and would remain a 'full part of the community'.
In a letter to parents Mrs Fletcher said: 'I can already feel the excitement in the air when we talk about what's to come. Staff share my passion for rapid and accelerated progress so that all our pupils can demonstrate high levels of achievement, enthusiasm for learning and self-confidence.'
She told the News that the change had been well-received by parents and an inaugural family picnic, sculpture and art trail for both schools at the beginning of the month had been very successful.
The Read Write Inc teaching programme, for which the infants' school received national recognition, and more recent Maths Make Sense system, would also be taught at the junior school from September.
Moves to formally create a single primary school from the two North Walsham schools, which will meanwhile each have their own budget, would probably be concluded in time for the September 2013 academic year, Mrs Fletcher added.
It would make North Walsham the second biggest primary in the county, behind another north Norfolk school, Sheringham.
Mrs Fletcher has been a teacher for 26 years. She trained in Nottingham and came to Norfolk in 1999 as head of Dowson First School, in Norwich, where she stayed for three years before taking up the North Walsham post.