New housing could heap more pressure on town’s ‘well below average’ education standards

The Charles Burrell Centre at Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Charles Burrell Centre at Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

New housing could put significant pressure on schools in a town in which educational standards are already “well below average” and “of significant concern”.

A report into the educational standards in Thetford was discussed at the Greater Thetford Development Partnership (GTDP) meeting on Friday, January 16.

In the report, from Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) children’s services department, it states education standards in Thetford are of “significant concern” to the local authority and regional schools commissioner.

While outcomes for children are broadly in line with the national average for Key Stage One pupils, at the end of Key Stage Two they are “well below average”.

However an improvement is expected with the Diocese of Norwich Education Academies Trust and eastern Multi Academy Trust overseeing the schools which are academies.

The report stated that for pupils aged 16, there is an “improving picture” as the Inspiration Trust, which runs Thetford Academy, becomes more established.

Of the nine schools in the Thetford cluster, six of those are now academies.

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Jan Munn, lead adviser for education participation, infrastructure and partnership set vices (EPIPS) part of children’s services, told the GTDP: “In Norfolk our relationship with the academies is strong. For a lot of academies we work as closely with them as we do with local authority-maintained schools.”

Despite this, NCC have said proposed growth in the area - including 5,000 houses as part of the Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) to the north of the town - could “impact the acceleration of the improvement of standards” if it is not managed and supported well.

Ms Munn said a project is set to be developed to prepare local schools for an increase in pupil numbers.

The project will also support the key objective of ensuring schools maintain a “sustainable and stable education landscape”.

Terry Jermy, GTDP board member and county, district and town councillor, said: “There are significant issues in Thetford schools at this current moment in time.”

The board were asked and agreed to support the development of the project and the proposed new school which is part of the SUE.