Headteacher: School ‘moving in right direction’ following controversy
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 October 2019
“I want more and our young people deserve more.”
Those were the words of Nicholas Hamond Academy principal, Mark Woodhouse, as he pledged to strive for continued improvement during his second year at the helm.
A year ago, the incoming Mr Woodhouse vowed to rebuild the Swaffham school's reputation following a turbulent period which saw the previous headteacher sacked.
Cheryl Hill was banned indefinitely from teaching in April 2018 for failing to conduct proper checks on an employee who was on the sex offenders register.
Her replacement has overseen a broad programme of change, addressing issues including staffing deficiencies, communication with parents and student support systems.
"It has had its challenges, like with all schools," said Mr Woodhouse, looking back on his first year in charge.
"You have your ups and downs and, as a headteacher, you always think things could have gone a little better. But I think we are significantly further forward compared to this time last year.
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"We had to look at a lot of our systems because some of the things you expect to see in a school were simply not there."
On staffing issues, the 43-year-old added: "At a basic level there was a problem in not having enough qualified teachers.
"It's a problem across the education system, but every job we've advertised has resulted in interviews. In that regard we are the envy of colleagues at other schools.
"We've made some really good appointments over the last 12 months but, of course, I am very particular about who we employ."
Nicholas Hamond's GCSE results for 2019 show 48pc of students achieved at least a grade four in English and maths, a 2pc rise on last year.
While admitting the increase could have been better, Mr Woodhouse is keen to instil an atmosphere that does not focus solely on results.
"On the face of things it isn't a huge improvement, but it's a move in the right direction," said Mr Woodhouse, who grew up in Norfolk.
"For me, starting here was about developing the right ethos within the academy. We want our students, when they go out into the community, to be confident young people.
"The overall aim from my perspective has not changed - we want to provide the best education we possibly can."
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