Plans for all-age school in Litcham

A Norfolk headteacher hopes the county's second 'all-age school' could open in September 2012 if proposals for a merger are approved by governors next month.

Litcham High School, near Dereham, has been working closely with Litcham Primary for more than two years and has been sharing a governing body since September.

But the sites could take that link one step further and become a single school teaching three to 16-year-olds.

Jeremy Nicholls, headteacher at Litcham High School, said the merger could help to further reduce the learning 'drop off' which happens when children moved between schools and allow staff to better meet the needs of students. He said: 'We have some students in our lower secondary years who are still working at primary levels while there are gifted and talented children in the primary school capable of working at secondary levels.'

Next month, governors of the Litcham Federation – which oversees both schools – will look at proposals for an all-age school.

If approved, the plans would then go to Norfolk County Council's children's services to get the final go-ahead and the combined school could open in September 2012.

Mark Kiddle-Morris, Litcham Federation governor and member of the children's services overview and scrutiny committee, said this would be a logical next step for the schools which already share a catering manager and will soon share a special educational needs co-ordinator (Senco).

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The county and district councillor said he could see both educational and financial advantages to the merger but said governors would need to consider several factors – including how it would impact on Litcham High's other feeder schools – before making a final decision.

The schools have already carried out some consultation with parents in the Litcham High catchment area.

Mr Nicholls said: 'So far the reaction has been unanimously favourable. We've had no opposition and no criticism. Before we become a single, all-through school there would be a wider community consulation.'

Litcham's all-age school would become only the second in the county after Methwold High and Hockering Primary had their plans approved by the children's services overview and scrutiny committee last week.

At that meeting, education bosses for the county said all-through schooling could be the way forward, particularly for rural schools in Norfolk.

A report by officers said it could protect small schools from closure, save money, boost exam results and improve schools' ability to target money at areas in greatest need.

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