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Leaders taking “effective action” to improve Thetford free school

Des Reynolds, Executive Head Teacher for Short Stay School for Norfolk. Includes Rosebery School in King's Lynn.

Des Reynolds, Executive Head Teacher for Short Stay School for Norfolk. Includes Rosebery School in King's Lynn.

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A struggling free school which was slammed by inspectors three months ago is now making progress towards the removal of special measures, a report has claimed.

The Pinetree School in Thetford, one of the Government’s pioneering new education facilities, went into special measures in July 2015.

Inspectors told the school in July it was a long way from improving its situation – with pupil behaviour and safeguarding being the most problematic areas – but a report of its most recent inspection says improvements in these areas mean the school is now on the right track to get out of special measures.

Inspector John Mitcheson said the Engage Trust school was “much calmer and more orderly” during his visit in October, with pupils working “purposefully” and showing more respect to staff. Expectations of pupils were also said to be higher.

“Most pupils behaved themselves, engaged with staff and showed some interest in their work. Teaching is no longer interrupted by shouting out, swearing or disengaging from learning.”

Locks previously placed on doors had been removed, a move said to encourage children to take “greater responsibility for making decisions”.

The report said school leaders had taken “urgent and effective action” to improve poor behaviour, adding: “The trust has acted decisively to strengthen the school’s leadership and management... providing greater capacity to make improvements.”

However, the report said more work needed to be done “to promote good attitudes towards learning” and noted that overall attendance was still below average – a “significant barrier to overcome” before the next inspection.

Des Reynolds, chief executive of the Engage Trust, said: “Obviously we are extremely pleased with the latest monitoring visit. We think the report accurately reflects the massive amount of improvement that has gone on in the school recently.

“The journey for a school improving is never a straightforward one and Pinetree School has certainly had some challenging times, but we are pleased that the inspector realised the trust has taken fast and effective action to meet these challenges and the school is now on a trajectory towards the removal of special measures.”

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