Alderman Peel may have pioneering role

Alderman Peel High School at Wells could become Norfolk's first all-age school, under plans unveiled this week.The education authority plans to spend over £100-plus in developing five new academies across the county.

Alderman Peel High School at Wells could become Norfolk's first all-age school, under plans unveiled this week.

The education authority plans to spend over £100-plus in developing five new academies across the county.

Wells has been earmarked as a potential location for one of the academies, with plans being mooted to develop a single four-16 “campus” on the current high school site.

Like each of the schools earmarked as academies - and four others in the county - Alderman Peel's results fall below the target of 30pc of pupils getting five or more A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths.


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But it is the only one of the five that has not had an Ofsted ruling of serious weaknesses or special measures. And it was recently named among the top 100 schools in England for adding value to its pupils.

Alderman Peel has been selected as a potential academy largely because of its size, with just 300 pupils. The small number of pupils makes it more difficult to deliver a broad curriculum, and officers and school leaders are interested in building Norfolk's first all-age school on the site, effectively merging the high school with Wells Primary.

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As part of the overall plan, two of Norfolk's top independent schools - Norwich School and Gresham's at Holt - would become sponsors and help their struggling neighbours.

This week chancellor Alistair Darling announced that the 638 English schools, including the nine in Norfolk, whose results fell below the 30pc target had until 2011 to improve - or face closure.

The academy proposals, set out in a report to Wednesday's children's services review panel, are part of the council's “strategic” approach to developing academies alongside improving secondary school performance.

Rosalie Monbiot, cabinet member for children's services, said: “It is vital that we continue to offer extensive support to schools in challenging circumstances and this report explores how we can do this through the academies programme.

“We need to move forward in a way which will benefit as many young people as possible and will allow us to fulfil our ambition to have good schools in every community.”

Education bosses hope the presence of the independent schools and mainstream colleges will attract local businesses wanting to put up the £2m sponsorship needed for each academy - without the controversy that has marred Norfolk's first academy project at Heartsease.

There, critics have hit out at the “Christian ethos” of the academy, sponsored by the Bishop of Norwich and businessman Graham Dacre.

The report will go forward to the council's cabinet in April for members to decide whether to agree the approach.

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