Merger is ‘outstanding’ success

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The controversial merger of two schools has paid off, according to Ofsted 

Snapethorpe Primary School was judged to be outstanding following its first inspection since its amalgamation with Waterton J&I School. The merger sparked outrage when the plans were first announced back in 2009.

Inspectors said: “All staff work together in a true team spirit, and the transition to one school from two has been almost seamless. Steadfastly led by the headteacher, the process was meticulously managed in the face of some anxieties from both communities.

All are now committed to the pursuit of excellence with the very highest aspirations for pupils of all abilities and backgrounds.”

Devastated parents launched a fight against the merger, which the council said was necessary to tackle the problem of thousands of excess primary school places, which were costing it £5m per year.

Inspectors said staff morale was high since the amalgamation, which led to the closure of Waterton J&I School, and pupils’ achievement was said to be outstanding.

The report said: “Snapethorpe pupils consistently exceed, by a significant margin, the progress made by all other pupils nationally.”

Inspectors said the proportion of pupils at the school who are in local authority care, or are eligible for free school meals, is significantly above the national average, adding: “The school monitors the progress made by all pupils to ensure that no one is in danger of being left behind and all have the same opportunities to succeed well.”

The curriculum was also praised by inspectors who said it was ‘highly effective,’ adding: “It places the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development at the heart of all their learning experiences.”

The Ofsted inspection was carried out when Mark Randall was headteacher, but he is currently on a secondment. Acting headteacher Nikki Summers, said: “Teamwork is what led us to be outstanding. These children only get one chance and we are their chance. Everyone who works with them does their best to make sure they achieve their full potential and the Ofsted report reflects that.”

Mum-of-two Linda Cowie was among those who campaigned to stop the closure of Waterton J&I School, which was only judged to be performing satisfactorily by Ofsted and needed £1m spending on the building.

She went on to become a parent governor at Snapethorpe Primary School after the merger. She said: “I have seen how hard everyone has worked, right from the dinnerladies, through to senior management.

“Everyone has pulled together and done an amazing job.”