School going strong after turbulent time

PUBLISHED: 11:48 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 09:44 01 August 2010

OFSTED inspectors have heaped praise on a south Norfolk primary school for its progress just six months after it formed a pioneering partnership with a neighbouring high school.

OFSTED inspectors have heaped praise on a south Norfolk primary school for its progress just six months after it formed a pioneering partnership with a neighbouring high school.

The inspection report judged Loddon Junior School as “good” overall, compared to a “satisfactory” assessment three years ago.

Inspectors said that during that period the school had experienced an “extraordinary level of turbulence” which had seen most of the teachers and governors change and a number of headteachers come and go.

The report states: “Loddon Junior School is a good school and has made good improvement since the last inspection. This is a huge achievement based upon the school's recent history and due to a very recent period of stable leadership.”

Inspectors said they recognised that improvements began when the county council placed a temporary head at the school 18 months ago following two years of declining pupil achievement. The previous headteacher left in May 2008.

Ofsted hailed the work of John Robson who took over as partnership headteacher in September, 2009, which sees him also continue as head of Hobart High School in Loddon.

The report says: “Following the appointment of the partnership headteacher, the school has made extremely rapid progress in addressing all of its weaknesses. His outstanding leadership has energised and raised the morale of the whole school community. Parents say there is now 'inspirational teaching and absolutely fantastic pastoral care'.”

Although more than 40 schools had formed partnership agreements under Norfolk County Council at the time, this was only the second in the county between a junior and secondary school. Under the leadership of Mr Robson, Hobart High School has been assessed as “outstanding” at its last two inspections.

Mr Robson said: “We are absolutely delighted by what Ofsted said about the school. I think it has changed the culture and it has hopefully changed the way the people from outside view the school.”

He said the challenge was to try to improve further still, adding: “It gives the school for the first time in a number of years a very good platform on which to build, and I think that's testament to all the staff who work in the school, the children and the parents.”

He said the staff in the difficult year of 2008-09 worked “fantastically well” to reverse a downward trend in attainment at the school, which has 174 pupils aged seven-11.

Inspectors also assessed that most teaching at Loddon was good or outstanding, and that overall attainment was above average.

The report, based on an inspection in March, said that more work could be done on promoting community cohesion and on developing information and communication technology skills, but added that pupils' behaviour was good and sometimes outstanding.

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