School working to cope with leadership changes

Thropton Village First School. Picture by Jane Coltman
Thropton Village First School. Picture by Jane Coltman
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A north Northumberland first school requires improvement following an Ofsted inspection in December last year.

The report for Thropton Village First School, which was published just before Christmas, reveals that the school is rated as requiring improvement across all the five main categories, having previously been rated as good.

The report says: ‘Instability in leadership and management has resulted in an overall decline in the school’s effectiveness. Governors and senior leaders do not have a clear enough picture of how well all pupils are doing’.

However, it adds: ‘The newly-appointed executive headteacher is accurately identifying priorities for improvement.

‘Teachers and support staff feel invigorated and united by the recent changes, sharing the executive headteacher’s vision for improvement and welcoming increased accountability’.

It also says that pupils get on well together and ‘are happy, feel safe and have mutual respectful and positive relationships with adults’.

A statement from the school explained that the school has been working closely with Rothbury’s Dr Thomlinson Middle School since June 2015.

Dr Thomlinson’s headteacher, Liam Murtagh, was appointed as executive headteacher of both schools on December 2 last year, just six days before Ofsted inspectors visited.

The statement highlights the six strengths listed in the report, but adds: ‘The school realises that there is further work to do to consolidate the changes that are already underway to make our school an even better place to learn.

‘Dr Thomlinson Middle School, together with the local authority, is committed to working with Thropton Village First School to secure the necessary improvements to make it an excellent school.

‘We believe that we are stronger together and we welcome further opportunities to share good practice’.

It continues: ‘The key issues for improvement from the Ofsted report are to strengthen leadership and management; improve teaching, learning and assessment to consistently good or better; improve pupils’ personal development and welfare.

‘We realise that such changes can only be effective by further strengthening the partnership between our school and its parents. The report highlights the work that has already begun in this area and we will look to build upon these developments in the weeks and months ahead’.