Head defends school’s plan to improve

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A village school’s headteacher has insisted her school is on the right track despite an inspector reporting its improvement plan is not fit for purpose.

The criticism came in an Ofsted inspector’s letter to Marshland St James Primary School.

But headteacher Sarah Durrant said the inspection visit last month came only five weeks after the initial report describing the school as “inadequate” was first published.

The original report was published in late February, following an inspection of the School Road site in January.

She said: “A lot of things are in place now, but the inspector wasn’t able to see them at the time.”

In the letter, inspector Kim Hall told Mrs Durrant: “You have worked hard and identified reasonable priorities of what needs to be achieved to improve the school.”

But she said priorities previously identified had not been linked to improving standards for specific groups of pupils, with criteria given for measuring successes “often too vague or unrealistic”.

And she added: “There is still an insufficient sense of urgency in tackling some of the whole-school priorities for improvement.”

But Mrs Durrant said the letter also recognised measures that have been taken to improve the school, including the strengthening of its governing body, staff development and the monitoring of pupils’ work.

She felt the letter was “quite positive” and added: “The children are so proud about how the school has changed over the last six months.”

Meanwhile, parents are currently being consulted on plans for the school to become an academy, under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Ely.

If the plan is approved, the conversion will take place ahead of the start of the new academic year in September.

Mrs Durrant felt additional church support would help the school to raise standards.

She said: “It will give us a fantastic opportunity to really drive the school forward.

“This school has real capacity to be a good school.”