Mourning Ditchingham Primary School labelled inadequate and put on special measures

DITCHINGHAM Primary School has been put on special measures after being rated as inadequate by an Ofsted inspection.

The school was inspected shortly before the tragic death of its head teacher and, after a damning report, will now be monitored more regularly as it is challenged to improve.

However, the school's chairman of governors has said that they are confident that recent improvements will be built upon after a desperately difficult time for all.

The primary school, which has 97 pupils aged 4-11, was given an inadequate rating for achievement of pupils, quality of teaching and leadership and management, with satisfactory for the behaviour and safety of pupils.

The report from lead inspector Judith Dawson said: 'Her Majesty's Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.'

Achievement in English and maths was labelled inadequate, as was teaching in the Early Years Foundation and Key 1 stages.

There was also criticism of the school's efforts to promote good handwriting, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

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The February inspection took place with two days' notice and happened just a week before the death of head teacher Gwyn James, who had been off work suffering from a long illness.

The impact of her illness on staff morale and the lack of leadership was noted in the report and it is acknowledged that acting head teacher Sue Sweet had brought in improvements.

Chris Tyacke, chairman of governors, said: 'This has been a desperately difficult time for our school, with Ofsted's inspection coming just days before the sad loss of our head teacher. In spite of the efforts of our dedicated staff and the support and understanding of parents, it is perhaps not surprising that the education of pupils has suffered in such a small school.

'Although these were very tough circumstances in which to face an inspection, we believe Ofsted's findings will help us considerably to get back on track.

'We now have an acting county council head teacher in place, with considerable experience in supporting schools facing difficulty and the extra support this judgment will bring should be welcomed by all those at the school.

'Ofsted recognised that there had been recent improvements and we must now build on these to ensure that all of our pupils are receiving the education they deserve.

He added: 'We are a strong community in Ditchingham and together I am confident that we can make the progress that the school needs.'

A county council spokesman said that the school is still exploring options for its future leadership.

At the school's last inspection in December 2008 it was rated as satisfactory, with good personal development and well-being.

At the time it had 131 pupils and was challenged to improve standards in English, improve the quality of teaching and the quality of reception class outdoor play and in an inspection a year later the inspector highlighted its good progress and acknowledged that the school had noted a need to improve mathematics teaching.

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