Norfolk MP backs Downham Market High School academy bid

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has welcomed the news the largest secondary school in West Norfolk could become an academy.

Governors at Downham Market High School, which has more than 1,700 pupils, have agreed to explore the best options for the school's future – including securing academy status.

It comes after Ofsted inspectors found the school to be 'inadequate' in March last year and served the mixed school with a notice to improve in December.

Ms Truss said: 'I am very keen to see concerns raised by Ofsted, parents and pupils at Downham Market High School properly addressed.

'I have spoken to [Norfolk County Council] to emphasise that action is needed to provide high quality education for all students.


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'The academy route could provide a significant boost to the area and deliver the improvements that need to be made.'

Academies are publicly-funded independent schools given extra freedoms including the way they deliver the curriculum. Currently there are 16 academies in Norfolk.

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The news comes after the Academy Transformation Trust revealed it is seeking government approval to take over nearby Swaffham Hammond's, as well as Hockwold and Methwold community school, in September.

Town councillor Jenny Groom said last night it was 'worrying' that these schools so close together - including Downham Market High School - could all become academies.

But fellow town councillor Jeffrey Reed said academy status might help the school after two years of 'less than satisfactory' exam results.

A statement released by the school yesterday said: 'Our school is now rapidly improving after what have been a tough couple of years and we have a revitalised senior team and dedicated and committed staff determined to make the progress that the community expects.

'We are confident that this year will bring significant improvements in exam results but it is essential to look at all of the strategies available to ensure this improvement continues.

'This includes developing partnerships and links with strong organisations or groups that have the skills and systems to help the school to succeed.

'It is only right that our governors consider all the options open to them to ensure rapid improvement, including academy status.'

'Governors are considering whether to develop this further and are continuing to work with the county council to explore the best options for the school's future.

'They have a duty to ensure the best strategy for the school and this includes working with partners that will bring benefits to students and their learning.'

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