Primary schools at Gresham, Langham, Northrepps, Overstrand, Holt and Roughton join forces to raise standards.

Cromer Ridge cluster scheme head teachers (from left): Polly Kossiwicz of Langham Village School, K

Cromer Ridge cluster scheme head teachers (from left): Polly Kossiwicz of Langham Village School, Kathryn Jackson of St Mary's, Roughton, Holt Primary head Simon Walters, Belfry, Overstrand head Titus Cotton and Northrepps head Angie Hamilton. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Six rural north Norfolk primary school head teachers have teamed up to help their pupils.

Cromer Ridge cluster scheme head teachers (from left): Polly Kossiwicz of Langham Village School, K

Cromer Ridge cluster scheme head teachers (from left): Polly Kossiwicz of Langham Village School, Kathryn Jackson of St Mary's, Roughton, Holt Primary head Simon Walters, Belfry, Overstrand head Titus Cotton and Northrepps head Angie Hamilton. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

The half dozen heads have joined forces to share staff, ideas, expertise and support, as part of an innovative new scheme aimed at raising standards, reducing isolation and increasing buying power for training and equipment.

The Cromer Ridge cluster project was the idea of Gresham Village Primary head Marc Goodliffe.

He contacted his counterparts at Holt, Langham, Roughton, Northrepps and Overstrand.

Staff have been meeting regularly to brainstorm, attend training courses and take part in joint projects with pupils.

Gresham Village Primary School head teacher Marc Goodliffe. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Gresham Village Primary School head teacher Marc Goodliffe. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant


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Mr Goodliffe said the cluster was proving a big success, adding: 'If small schools are going to survive, then projects like this show that you can work together without compromising your school's integrity and individuality.

'Because head teachers of smaller schools often work in isolation, I felt that there were things we could do to support each other.

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'Being part of a group also allows us to take advantage of a bigger staff pool, which, collectively, means we have more expertise, and it gives us more buying power with regards to training opportunities for teachers and support staff.'

Joint initiatives have included working on children's literacy, writing and seen teaching assistants to take part in a course on encouraging children's questioning skills.

After kicking off the scheme by working on children's literacy, the six heads went on to collaborate with Cromer infants, junior and high schools to commission maths training for all staff through the Norfolk to Good and Great programme, a £1m, two-year scheme aimed at improving standards.

In January, a joint project saw children from all six schools meet up at the Forum, Norwich, where they spent a day working with BBC film makers as part of a workshop aimed at encouraging team work, creative thinking and entrepreneurship.

'Cromer Ridge cluster has been a real success,' Mr Goodliffe said. 'And I think that, if small schools are going to survive, then projects like this show that you can work together without compromising your school's integrity and individuality.'

Titus Cotton, who is head of the 137-pupil Belfry School, at Overstrand, said the partnership had allowed the six schools to be 'plugged in' to the wider world.

'All our schools are quite small, but we all share similar aspirations,' he added.

'Having a self-created cluster has given us the chance to share ideas and plans, as well as enabling our children to progress and come up with more imaginative and ambitious projects.'

The Cromer Ridge group is now drawing up a plan for the coming year, also devising a drama project and working on obtaining grants with the help of former Cromer Junior School head teacher Steve Godson, who is now an associate head working on leadership development for Norfolk county council's Education Partnership Service.

Northrepps Primary head teacher Angie Hamilton, who, with just 27 pupils, leads the smallest school in the group, said the scheme had been a 'huge success'.

'Not only do the heads meet, but the staff network in much more creative ways and the children get together, which gives them a chance to have a voice and learn new life skills.'

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