Village school merger aims to preserve secondary education in Litcham for decades to come

The future of secondary education in a mid-Norfolk village could be secure for decades to come after its primary and secondary schools merged, the enlarged institution's headteacher said.

Teachers, students and governors gathered at the official unveiling of a plaque on Tuesday to mark the opening of the single all-through Litcham School, which will teach pupils aged five to 16.

The merger came after three years of preparation, which included visits to other all-through schools across the country and a single governing body during two years of federation.

Headteacher Jeremy Nicholls said: 'We recognised that we could do things better. We are also faced with a future of dwindling resources and we have come up with a future that makes education sustainable over the long term in a rural area.

'For the past two years finance has been very tight and it's going to get tighter.'

The primary school, which has 100 pupils, and the 550-strong high school had already made a number of shared appointments ahead of the union, including a business manager, catering manager and special educational needs and disabilities coordinator.

Children who attend the primary stage of the school will be guaranteed places at the high school, and specialist staff from the senior school will teach ICT, music and French to primary students.

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The primary and secondary elements of the school will remain on their current separate sites, which are a six minutes apart on foot, but Mr Nicholls said the high school site was 'full and overflowing' and he would one day like to see a newly-built school on single site.

Former assistant director of Norfolk Children's Service Fred Corbett, who unveiled the plaque, said benefits would include better continuity for students and professional development for staff, but said numerous challenges would include coping with the inspection regime.

The school has created a new logo of a bird in flight, and classes at the primary school have seen their tree names changed to bird names.