When I started Werdelin Education and mentioned that Stalham Academy was my first (and only) client back in 2014, everyone I spoke to seemed to have some form of horror-story about the school. Stalham Junior has been, I slowly discovered, a catch-phrase for everything wrong with primary schools in Norfolk.
Not so anymore.
I was contacted by Andrew Howard, suddenly thrown into the deep end as acting head, shortly before the Summer holidays of 2014. He had attended a seminar with the Sutton Trust which had flagged up Cooperative Learning in relation to effective Pupil Premium spend. We sat down and talked in the Millenium Library one lazy day during the holidays, dust dancing in the rays through the bay windows, “to see if Cooperative Learning could do something.”
The rest is Norfolk educational history.
Stalham Academy did three 2-hour CPD sessions, the first on 24 September 2014, the second on 3 December 2014, the third and final on 11 February 2015. Under the auspices of Andrew Howard, these six hours of CPD, constituting just a handful of CLIPs turned around the school, with impact after two weeks.
The trend became official with Stalham’s SAT results from 2015, which prompted this series of interviews with Glenn Russell, who had by then taken over formal leadership of the school.
And then everyone woke up last year, when Stalham Academy had 81% of pupils achieving the expected standard or above in Reading, Writing & Maths, prompting Tim Coulson, the Regional Schools Commissioner, to promote them as one of only seven schools in the entire Eastern region to contact for good practice.
To put it into perspective, Stalham is in the top 500 nationwide.
However, not every school has benefited equally from the same programme. Over the next month, I intend to write a series of post for any responsible head teacher or governor now curious about Cooperative Learning and what went right at Stalham Academy.
There are lessons to be learned if you want to go outstanding. Stay updated on Twitter.
In the meantime, please enjoy posts from the past two years about Stalham.
Here’s a direct link to the new Ofsted report.