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New head at Red Lodge primary school helping to ‘turn things around’

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Newmarket Journal June 2013''St Christophers Primary School Red Lodge ENGANL00120130614160711
Newmarket Journal June 2013''St Christophers Primary School Red Lodge ENGANL00120130614160711

The new head of a struggling Red Lodge school is rapidly ‘turning things around’, the chair of governors said.

Nichola Perry was appointed as executive headteacher of St Christopher’s Primary School, which has been in special measures for a year, in June, after her predecessor Kathryn McMurtary’s departure.

Its latest Ofsted monitoring inspection took place on October 6 and 7, with Her Majesty’s Inspector Wendy Varney concluded that ‘leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures’.

Tim Huggan, newly appointed chair of governors, said: “Nichola is helping to turn things around. It is rapidly improving.

“We have taken note of the actions Ofsted has suggested and are pushing forward with the aim of being excellent in the next two years.”

The report stated that the school has ‘worked hard to improve’ its previously ‘inaccurate and unreliable’ assessments, saying it is ‘encouraging that the school now has an accurate baseline to work from’.

Results in national Key Stage Two tests in 2015 were ‘the best the school has ever achieved, with greater proportions reaching the expected level in English and mathematics than ever before’.

The improving staff situation was also addressed, with the school now fully staffed and former acting headteacher Duncan Reed to stay on as Ms Perry’s deputy.

Mr Huggan said the school had been adversely affected by the move to a two-tier system, rapidly expanding from 150 pupils to more than 300.

“It was a new school, under-funded with a lot of problems,” he said.

“We now have the structures in place and the results that the children are producing are showing that we are moving forward. The children are the primary concern.

“The community is buying into the school now and it is turning around.”

St Christopher’s is set to become an academy, with a new sponsor identified after an initial bid from the National Education Trust fell through.

The inspection report said ‘longer-term leadership’ remained a concern, with Ms Perry’s appointment only temporary and the governing body deciding against recruiting a substansive headteacher ‘until the issue of academisation is resolved’.