Schools to share one headteacher
Education chiefs hailed a new solution to a rural headteacher recruitment problem yesterday as a Norfolk high school took over the management of a neighbouring primary.
EDUCATION chiefs hailed a new solution to a rural headteacher recruitment problem last week as a Norfolk high school took over the management of a neighbouring primary.
The partnership between Methwold High School and Hockwold Primary School is the first of its kind in the county and could pave the way for other similar mergers.
Officials at both schools spoke of their excitement as they welcomed a new era in co-operation and sharing of resources.
Denise Walker, who has been head at Methwold High for the last four years, will also manage Hockwold Primary for at least the next three years in a bid to improve the transition of students from primary to secondary education.
Mrs Walker said she hoped that the pioneering model, which is already being used by other schools across the country, will encourage other Norfolk schools to look at similar partnerships. The move comes after the governors at Hockwold were unable to find a suitable replacement for Sheila Liverland, who retired last term.
Mrs Walker, who will be aided by two assistant headteachers who will work at both schools, said the partnership would enable the 82 pupils at Hockwold to use Methwold's sports, learning and computer facilities.
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"The main thing is the ease of transition for children, and the
shared use of facilities is a fantastic way of using the resources for all
the children. They will be seen as
part of a bigger community, which
is very important for small
primary schools, and will help
break down barriers," she said.
Tim Newton, senior development officer for Norfolk County Council's children's services, said there were already more than 30 primary school management partnerships in the county - more than any other authority in the country. He added that the first merger between a high school and primary in Norfolk had the support of local parents, governors and the education authority.
"Nationally, it is difficult to get headteachers into small schools and this is not a policy as such, but if it is a success, it is something we can suggest elsewhere," he said.
"There are benefits for both schools in that the primary school benefits from experienced leadership and the high school benefits from experience in teaching younger children. We are supportive of it and we are interested to see if it can be repeated elsewhere.".
Jane Wheeldon, chairman of Hockwold governors, said: "The advantages to both schools, which will of course retain their separate identities, are many, and from the Hockwold point of view we gain an excellent headteacher and all the resources of a school that is clearly going places."