Only way for small schools to survive - Shouldham headteacher

Shouldham headteacher Marika Mears with her pupils
Shouldham headteacher Marika Mears with her pupils
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A Shouldham primary school was one of the highest achieving at the inaugural Lynn News Education Awards in November, taking prizes for best pupil, primary class and headteacher of the year.

St Martin leads the way in expanding the student body, more than doubling the number of pupils since opening in 2000, headteacher Marika Mears says both staff and pupils are reaping the rewards.

She said: “I think it’s the only way that a lot of small schools will survive. Although federated, none of the smaller schools have lost their individual identity, which can be a big worry.

“The decision to let the school grow allowed us to keep our uniqueness but it has also enabled us to employ staff based on their specific talents.

“By having additional teachers, it has helped us to share the workload and has given staff the opportunity to develop their expertise in certain areas. We are now one of the leading schools in IT and have a specialist teacher.”

Mrs Mears feels the changes have helped place the school’s emphasis back on teaching rather than filling out paperwork thanks to the shared workload.

She said: “Talented teachers want to teach, not to push paper around and this gives them that opportunity which in turn benefits the children.

“At the end of the day, the teachers go home feeling like they have made a difference to the children they teach and that is the most important thing.”

Including the nursery, the school now has 200 children, compared to 83 when it first opened in 2000. Mrs Mears think this has had a big influence on the social development of the pupils.

She said: “It makes things very exciting having such a huge number and really helps the children. If you have a few children in a year group, they are a big fish in a small pond and often when they get to high school, these children can flounder.

“This set up gives the children more social opportunities which can only be a good