Ofsted brands council’s help for two “inadequate” school to improve as “not fit for purpose”

Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council has launched an investigation after its plans to help two schools judged 'inadequate' were branded 'not fit for purpose' by an Ofsted inspector.

The judgements came after Anthony O'Malley held monitoring visits at Walpole Highway and Terrington St John primary schools, which are federated and near Wisbech, on September 17 and October 2, respectively, to assess progress since their poor Ofsted reports earlier this year.

In both cases he said the school's own improvement plans were 'fit for purpose', and praised progress they were making, but made damning criticisms of the council.

Both inspections took place after the council's two-year, £1m school improvement strategy Norfolk to Good and Great got underway in September.

Writing about the council's statement of action for Walpole Highway, Mr O'Malley wrote: 'The statement is not always factually accurate and includes typing errors, which mean that the dates for starting and completing improvement activities are confusing.'

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He also wrote: 'A further weakness is that the many targets for improvement in the statement are imprecise and so not easily measurable. Finally, the statement identifies a range of support the local authority will secure to help the school. However, the local authority has not yet met any of these commitments.'

Regarding Terrington St John Primary, he said that although the statement of action identified a range of support the council would provide, 'to date, it has resulted in very little help'.

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He said the role of the council in commissioning new executive headteacher Jill Davis, who also took over the same position at Walpole Highway, had been 'much more useful'.

Gordon Boyd, the council's assistant director of children's services, said: 'On this occasion, our statement of action was clearly not up to scratch. We continue to investigate exactly what happened and why, however it is clear the usual checks and balances in place to avoid such mistakes from happening did not work as well on this occasion.

'It is essential we find out why this happened so we can make sure it doesn't happen again.'

He added that, overall, 85pc of inspectors' comments about the council's role in school improvement were positive, and the cabinet had invested in additional intervention services to target schools causing concern, including appointing two new local authority governors for Walpole Highway and Terrington St John.

He added: 'We are due to submit a final statement for action to the school and Ofsted for inspectors to consider when they carry out their next monitoring visit of the school.'

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