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High school says it is shaking off ‘legacy’ of poor teaching and leadership

PUBLISHED: 14:53 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:53 10 January 2019

North Walsham High School has been told by inspectors that it must improve. Picture: Archant

North Walsham High School has been told by inspectors that it must improve. Picture: Archant

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

A “legacy of ineffective leadership and teaching” is holding back progress at an under-performing Norfolk high school, inspectors have claimed.

New members of staff at North Walsham High School pictured in 2017, with chair of governors Alex Robinson, front centre left, and head teacher Neil Powell, front centre right. Several new staff have joined the school since its last inspection in 2015. Picture: Andy NewmanNew members of staff at North Walsham High School pictured in 2017, with chair of governors Alex Robinson, front centre left, and head teacher Neil Powell, front centre right. Several new staff have joined the school since its last inspection in 2015. Picture: Andy Newman

Ofsted’s damning assessment of North Walsham High School said attempts at improvement had been “hampered” by staff and parents who were “unwilling” to accept change.

It said the school’s governors “have presided over a period of sustained underachievement” and had “not challenged leaders sufficiently” on how funding was spent to help vulnerable pupils.

The school has been down-graded in Ofsted’s rankings to “requires improvement” following the inspection in December.

But the report said that, under the leadership of headteacher Neil Powell, “the turbulence has stabilised” with new senior leaders appointed and pupils starting to show progress.

The report said there were inconsistencies in how bad behaviour was dealt with by staff and that the quality of teaching “varies too widely”.

“Leaders monitor teaching but have not considered the wide variation across and within subjects, or the impact this has on pupils’ progress.”

It said particular groups of students including boys, the most able, disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs and disabilities were not making enough progress.

Deficiencies were also found in the teaching of “personal and social matters” such as relationships and finance.

The report said the special educational needs coordinator and careers education leader – areas found to be under-performing – along with most subject leaders were new in post and acknowledged they had not had time to demonstrate their full contribution to improvement efforts.

While “too many parents” still have concerns, a new parents’ forum is helping to mend the communication breakdown.

North Walsham High School chair of governors Alex Robinson said: “Naturally we are disappointed with the overall rating given by the inspectors, but behind there is much in the report that shows that our plans to turn the school around are taking us in the right direction.

“A school turn-around plan is a multi-year process, and we are only two years into that journey. The report is a validation of the changes that we have made, at the same time recognising that we still have a way to go.”

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