Pioneering plan to merge schools in Hockwold and Methwold, near Thetford

Norfolk's first school for four to 18-year-olds could become a reality if an amalgamation between two schools is approved on Monday.

A proposal to merge 93-pupil Hockwold Primary School, near Thetford, with 750-pupil Methwold High had been proposed by governors who feel the move would best utilise funding, staff and resources.

If approved, it would create Hockwold and Methwold Community School from September and could mean pupils are taught at the same school throughout their education.

Although the proposal is to formally close Hockwold Primary as a separate institution and extend the age-range of Methwold High from 11 to 18-year-olds to four to 18-year-olds, younger pupils would still be taught from the Hockwold buildings.

Denise Walker is head at both Hockwold and Methwold and the two schools already work closely together. She would become the head of the merged school and described it as 'very exciting'. She added: 'We are the first in Norfolk to do this.'

Mrs Walker added: 'We believe it will open up so many opportunities for young people and children to come together and gives staff better professional development.'

She stressed the two schools' sites would remain and the identity of both villages would be maintained.

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Mrs Walker said there was already a partnership in place between the schools. 'Two students from the sixth form do drama at Hockwold and we have students from high school taking assemblies.'

In a report to Norfolk County Council's cabinet on Monday, officers Tim Newton and Alison Cunningham said benefits of an all-through school, which could begin in September, would lead to improved standards in teaching and learning, closer co-operation between teachers, a 'coherent' curriculum, 'excellent' pastoral support and quality leadership.

Resources would also be shared and the budget for September would be the combined amount the schools would have received.