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School closure threat

PUBLISHED: 18:19 12 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 July 2010

Laura Bagshaw

A LOCAL high school has been given a “no excuses” warning to improve or face closure.

Oriel High School, in Gorleston, was delivered the ultimatum along with hundreds of other schools across the country as part of a government drive to raise standards.

A LOCAL high school has been given a “no excuses” warning to improve or face closure.

Oriel High School, in Gorleston, was delivered the ultimatum along with hundreds of other schools across the country as part of a government drive to raise standards.

It wants every high school to reach a target of 30pc of pupils gaining five or more A*-C GCSEs, including maths and English by 2011 - or be closed or replaced with an academy.

In 2007 19pc of pupils at Oriel gained five or more A8-C GCSEs.

However, this week its chair of governors Trevor Wainwright, said he was “disappointed” the school had been included on the hit list as it had improved rapidly.

Mr Wainwright said also said he thought it was unlikely that the school would face closure.

“I don't see that scenario happening,” he said. “Oriel has been given three years to improve and I'm confident it will.”

Mr Wainwright said the government report, on which this hit list is based, was produced last year, and that Oriel had moved on since then.

“Since this report was issued we have gained specialist status. The school is on the up. There is no doubt we have had problems in the past but the school is improving.”

A building project costing almost £7m is currently underway on the Oriel Avenue site as part of county-wide reorganisation of the schools system.

The Oriel Avenue school has been through a difficult period in recent years - being put on special measures in 2004 meaning it was given extra supervision.

Oriel was taken off special measures in April 2006 following a rigorous two-day examination by Ofsted inspectors in March of that year.

In its last Ofsted report in 2006 inspectors said teaching and learning was “satisfactory” and had areas of “significant strengths”.

The education watchdog said staff worked well together and that they shared a sense of “optimism and direction”.

It said the school had made “significant improvements” but more needed to be done.

Mr Wainwright stressed that the tide was turning at Oriel. “For the first time in years the school is oversubscribed. Parents want to send their children to the school.”

In September last year the school gained specialist status in maths and computing meaning it would receive extra cash to develop and enhance those departments.

Mr Wainwright added: “There is a lot happening at the school. It is disappointing to be on the list but I'm confident the school can and will improve further.”

As part of the government plans local authorities are required to help schools build an action plan and Norfolk County Council confirmed that work was “well-underway” to produce a rescue plan by the end of the summer term that would “improve the state of play” at the school.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write to Letters at The Mercury, 169 King Street, great Yarmouth NR30 2PA, or email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk

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