Stalham High School ‘improving’ despite falling into special measures

Nigel Dixon, Norfolk County Council member for Hoveton and Stalham.

Nigel Dixon, Norfolk County Council member for Hoveton and Stalham. - Credit: Archant

A high school has fallen into special measures after a snap Ofsted inspection – despite being rated good just eight months before.

But a county councillor said he believed the two main problems facing Stalham High School – senior leaders and the governing body – have been resolved and the school would recover.

The 468-pupil school was rated inadequate by Ofsted in all four key areas after an unexpected inspection on November 26-27. It was judged as good after an Ofsted visit in March last year.

The areas inspected were achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management.

A key criticism in the report said: 'Governors and senior leaders have been too distracted by a number of internal issues. As a result, they have not made adequate plans for the long-term strategic improvement of the school and its existence has been put at risk; they have failed to win the complete confidence of parents, staff and all governors.'

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Tony Ross-Benham, current chairman of governors, said governors were disappointed but things were improving.

He said: 'The morale of the staff is low but the teachers are good. My 14-year-old son would not be going there if I thought the school wasn't good.'

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The damning report said Melinda Derry, headteacher at the time, was absent during the visit.

Ms Derry went off sick on November 26 and later resigned after being off ill.

Her place has been taken, until this July, by executive headteacher Gerard Batty, current head of Hellesdon High School, Norwich.

Mr Batty said staff were determined to work together and were ambitious for the school.

Ofsted acknowledged that changes to the management team were beginning to have an impact and there was some outstanding teaching.

Behaviour in the school was generally good but there were some issues raised in the report that were of concern, 'in particular the racist attitudes of a small number of students, and we are acting immediately to address these'.

Nigel Dixon, Hoveton and Stalham county councillor, thought the right thing had been done to stabalise the school by bringing in Mr Batty. An interim executive board will replace the current governing body.

'The feedback I have had is that Mr Batty has been very effective in resolving the pressing problems. I am confident that the two primary problems have been resolved. Most people recognise we must move on,' Mr Dixon said.

Asked about the change in ranking, an Ofsted spokesman said a school's performance could 'improve and decline over a short period of time.'

Inspections could also be brought forward, outside of the usual timescale, where there were 'concerns with a school's performance.'

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