This week, Paul, Ellie and Kevin spoke to Headteacher of Oulton Broad Primary School, Jamie White about his school’s journey from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Outstanding’.
Jamie had an unusual route to being a Primary headteacher as he is a Secondary-trained English teacher. He then worked in Middle schools until they were abandoned by the local authority which prompted him to undertake an NPQH and become a Primary Head in 2012.
Oulton Broad Primary is in an area of coastal deprivation but which benefits from a lovely setting and lovely children. When Jamie took over, the school had only ever had one year 6 group due to the changes from Middle schools and was experiencing difficulties. He describes it as ‘in a state of flux’. The school was in the ‘satisfactory’ Ofsted category which is now called ‘Requires Improvement’ – R.I.
What were the key challenges of being in R.I. and what are the special challenges in a coastal school?
In fact, when Jamie had been in post for a year, the school was rated as ‘inadequate’. With the support of his staff, he challenged this verdict and was upgraded to R.I. Jamie describes this as ‘a very brave decision’ and says he was counselled against it by several people but after going through a paper exercise and making his case which took him away from his core business of teaching and learning, he managed to convince Ofsted to revise all of their judgements.
There is very little work where the school is located in Lowestoft. It is a former fishing town but that industry has disappeared. Higher Education and Further Education opportunities are sparse and so aspirations a very low. Renewable energy companies are now moving into the area which is positive and there are off-shore opportunities so the future looks better.
How did you manage to bring the staff with you?
Ellie has visited Oulton Broad twice and was very impressed by Jamie’s ability to ‘Lead in a relaxed way but in one which really communicated your vision’.
Jamie actually asked his staff in preparation for the episode how he leads so that they will follow. They told him:
You encourage all of us to look beyond ourselves and to understand how we fit into the bigger picture
Jamie tries to make sure …
Download Oulton Broad’s opportunity charter
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