School etc

Thurston Community College

Thurston Community College
Norton Road
Bury St Edmunds

phone: 01359 230885

headteacher: Miss Diane Helen Wilson

reveal email: hele…


school holidays: via Suffolk council

1345 pupils aged 13—18y mixed gender
1443 pupils capacity: 93% full

675 boys 50%


670 girls 50%


Last updated: June 20, 2014

Secondary — Community School

Education phase
Establishment type
Community School
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 591870, Northing: 265552
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 52.255, Longitude: 0.80964
Accepting pupils
13—18 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Ofsted last inspection
May 1, 2013
Region › Const. › Ward
East of England › Bury St. Edmunds › Thurston and Hessett
Town and Fringe - less sparse
Admissions policy
Main specialism
Science (Operational)
Sixth form
Has a sixth form
Free school meals %
Learning provider ref #

rooms to rent in Bury St. Edmunds

Schools nearby

  1. 0.6 miles Thurston Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP313RY (176 pupils)
  2. 1.8 mile Beyton Middle School IP309AA (439 pupils)
  3. 1.9 mile Rougham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP309JJ (169 pupils)
  4. 2 miles Great Barton Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP312RJ (172 pupils)
  5. 2.5 miles Norton CEVC Primary School IP313LZ (162 pupils)
  6. 2.5 miles Abbots Green Community Primary School IP327PJ (298 pupils)
  7. 2.5 miles First Base IP327PJ
  8. 3.1 miles Sebert Wood Community Primary School IP327EG (347 pupils)
  9. 3.1 miles Moreton Hall School IP327BJ (119 pupils)
  10. 3.2 miles Ixworth Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP312EL (202 pupils)
  11. 3.5 miles Ixworth Middle School IP312HS (323 pupils)
  12. 3.5 miles Priory School IP327BH
  13. 3.5 miles Priory School IP327BH (129 pupils)
  14. 3.5 miles Ixworth Free School IP312HS
  15. 3.7 miles St James CofE VA Middle School IP331YB (476 pupils)
  16. 3.8 miles Learning Support, Western Area Education Office IP332AR
  17. 3.9 miles South Lee School IP332BT (243 pupils)
  18. 4 miles Hardwick Primary School IP332PW (218 pupils)
  19. 4.1 miles Guildhall Feoffment Community Primary School IP331RE (270 pupils)
  20. 4.2 miles St Edmund's Catholic Primary School IP331QG (301 pupils)
  21. 4.3 miles Woolpit Community Primary School IP309RU (146 pupils)
  22. 4.3 miles Hardwick Middle School IP332PD (396 pupils)
  23. 4.3 miles St Louis Catholic Middle School IP333PH (434 pupils)
  24. 4.4 miles Tollgate Primary School IP326DG (249 pupils)

List of schools in Bury St. Edmunds

School report

Thurston Community College

Norton Road, Thurston, Bury St Edmunds, IP31 3PB

Inspection dates 1–2 May 2013
Overall effectiveness This inspection: Good 2
Previous inspection: Outstanding 1
Achievement of pupils Good 2
Quality of teaching Good 2
Behaviour and safety of pupils Good 2
Leadership and management Good 2

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school.
It is not an outstanding school because

Students make good progress with their
The college prepares students well for the
The quality of teaching is good. Teachers
The behaviour of students is outstanding in
learning and literacy skills are good. They are
articulate and have a good understanding of
moral issues and current affairs.
next step in their careers, for further or
higher education and for future employment.
know their subjects well and are adept at
finding interesting ways of conveying
information, developing understanding and
teaching skills.
many respects. They are mature, courteous
and eager to learn.
The sixth form is good. The great majority of
The leadership and management of the school
students who start A level and AS level courses
go on to complete their studies here and get
good examinations results.
are good. Senior leaders and governors share
common goals. They recognise where
improvement is needed and make sure that
time and resources are deployed effectively to
remedy shortcomings.
There is still some variability in the teaching,
Attendance is much the same as it is in other
and this requires improvement.
Suffolk schools of this type, but is below the
national average for all secondary schools.
The school’s self-evaluation is too fulsome and
is not sufficiently based on progress and
standards achieved by the students.

Information about this inspection

  • Inspectors observed 45 lessons and two assemblies, and visited five registration sessions. Senior
    school leaders observed 16 lessons jointly with inspectors.
  • Inspectors held meetings with members of the governing body, a representative of the local
    authority, school leaders and managers, teachers, and students of all ages. They also talked to
    students about their work during the lessons they visited.
  • They took account of 122 on-line questionnaires completed by parents (Parent View) and 61
    confidential questionnaires completed by staff.
  • Inspectors observed the work of the school and looked at a wide range of documents, including:
    school self-evaluation and performance management documents; records relating to attendance,
    behaviour and the monitoring of teaching; and documents relating to safeguarding.

Inspection team

Keith Wheeldon, Lead inspector Additional Inspector
Simon Hughes Additional Inspector
Frances Le Pla Additional Inspector
John Mason Additional Inspector
Ian Starling Additional Inspector

Full report

Information about this school

  • Thurston Community College is a school for students aged 13 to 19 years and is larger than
    average. It serves a largely rural area so four out of every five students travel to school by bus.
  • The organisation of education in this part of Suffolk changes in September 2014, when this
    school will receive students aged 11 to 19. Staff and governors at this school have led this
    reorganisation and have formed a formal partnership with the 17 primary schools which serve
    the area, and established a school company with 13 of them.
  • The proportion of students eligible for support through the pupil premium is much lower than
    average. (Pupil premium is funding provided by the government to support pupils who are
    looked after by the local authority, those who are eligible for free school meals and those who
    have a parent serving in the armed forces.)
  • The proportion of students with special educational needs supported by school action is very low
    and the proportion who have statements of special educational needs or who are supported by
    school action plus is lower than average.
  • There are very few students from minority ethnic groups or who speak English as an additional
  • Vocational education is provided for 24 students for one day a week at West Suffolk College,
    Bury St Edmunds; one student spends one day a week at Otley College, Ipswich; one student
    spends one day a week at Hill Farm Stables, Elmswell; and one student spends two days a week
    at Bardwell Manor Equestrian Centre, Bardwell.
  • Thurston Community College takes a leading role in the Eastern Training Consortium, a
    professional development partnership funded by the local authority, and is also a key strategic
    partner with Linton Village College, Cambridgeshire, which has teaching school status.
  • School results meet current government floor standards, the minimum expectations for the
    attainment and progress of students.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Ensure that inconsistencies in the quality of teaching are identified and shortcomings, such as
    weaknesses in marking books, are eradicated methodically so that the progress of all students is
    at least good in every lesson.
  • Ensure that self-evaluation is sharper and more analytical, and judgements about teaching,
    leadership and management are directly linked to the objective evaluation of students’

Inspection judgements

The achievement of pupils is good
  • The attainment of students when they arrive at the school varies year by year. In the last few
    years, there have been more middle-attaining students than average but among those in Year
    10 there are now more higher-attaining students than might be expected.
  • GCSE examination results of those at the end of Year 11 were about average in 2010, rose
    substantially in 2011 but fell back again in 2012. This was mainly because of poor results in
    mathematics after a change of examination.
  • Despite these poor mathematics results, those who took their GCSEs last year made steady
    progress in English and mathematics, compared with their starting points at age 11.
  • Inspection evidence and school data show that those in Years 9, 10 and 11 are making much
    better progress than in the past. This is because the school has made a determined effort to
    bring standards back in line with those achieved at the time of the last inspection. Progress in
    English and mathematics compares very well with that expected.
  • Typically, by the time students who were eligible for the pupil premium reached the end of Year
    11 in summer 2012 they were four terms behind other students at the school in their English
    and more than two years behind them in their mathematics.
  • Compared with others in Year 11 currently at the school those students who are eligible for the
    pupil premium are catching up slightly in their English while in mathematics they are catching up
    a little faster. Those in Year 10 are making much better progress in both subjects and so the gap
    between their attainment and that of other students is closing rapidly.
  • Disabled students and those with special educational needs are making better progress than
    might be expected. Their progress is more rapid in English than it is in mathematics.
  • Students who attend alternative provision enjoy the range of work they are given, and their
    progress in English and mathematics compares well with national figures for all pupils of the
    same age.
  • The progress made by students in the sixth form compares well with national figures, and value
    added in the sixth form is good. There has been a steady improvement in the performance of
    students at AS level and this is evident among those currently studying for A levels. The great
    majority of those who join the sixth form stay on and complete their courses through to the end
    of the second year sixth.
  • Literacy and communication skills are strong among students of all ages. They read fluently,
    write well, spell accurately, answer questions clearly and are articulate during discussions.
  • Students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is very good. Students say they learn
    a great deal in subjects like English and religious studies and during ‘deep learning days’ when
    the usual timetable is suspended. They say these days provide excellent opportunities to focus
    on topics which are important to them, such as drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, personal
    identity and homophobic behaviour, and environmental issues.
  • Tutor time and assemblies also contribute well to students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural
    development. For example, students develop an understanding of current affairs through
    debates held in tutor time. Those in the sixth form develop a very open approach to personal,
    social and cultural issues. During the inspection, sixth form students were absorbed by a series
    of highly topical short films presented in assembly by film studies students.
  • The school does not enter students early for GCSE examinations.
The quality of teaching is good
  • Although there are variations, the quality of teaching is good in the main school and in the sixth
    form. Teachers’ subject knowledge is good and they are particularly adept at using different
    approaches to make learning interesting and memorable. For example, in an excellent science
    lesson the teacher used drama to improve students’ understanding of electrolysis. They know
    the sort of difficulties students are likely to face when introducing a new topic, and can usually
    predict where they might need help to overcome any misunderstandings.
  • Teachers also set a very positive atmosphere in lessons and so students do not feel the least
    intimidated. They freely ask for further clarification if they are puzzled and do not understand,
    and enthusiastically offer different ideas and solutions when solving problems. This means that
    teachers can be confident that students have grasped a new concept and can move on quickly.
  • Teachers plan lessons carefully so that work is sequenced well, they structure and order their
    lessons effectively to make good use of the full 100-minute sessions, and they set a pace which
    ensures students make good progress.
  • As in the main school, academic and pastoral support is very good for students in the sixth form.
    Those who are underachieving are identified promptly, and teachers use a wide variety of
    strategies to ensure students rapidly overcome their difficulties.
  • Teachers assess students’ work regularly and accurately, and they use lesson time well to give
    one-to-one feedback to help students make good progress. Sometimes their marking of exercise
    books is infrequent and lacks useful comments that would help students to move on more
    rapidly in their learning.
  • Most students’ exercise books and folders are neat and their notes are easy to follow. Where
    work is poorly presented, handwriting is difficult to decipher, or students do not persevere with
    their spelling, teachers are sometimes reluctant to intervene and demand better standards.
  • In the best lessons, teachers set work that students of different abilities find demanding but, as
    was the case at the time of the last inspection, in some of the other lessons teachers do not
    expect enough of their students. They are too ready to accept that students have reached the
    usual standard instead of pushing on to higher-level work.
  • Teachers’ management of behaviour in lessons is good, although students and parents recognise
    that there are some inconsistencies among staff. None of the teachers who responded to the
    survey expressed any concerns about behaviour management.
  • Teachers and other staff make a very positive contribution to other aspects of the school’s work.
    They lead many after-school clubs and sports activities, and also led the recent production of

. In subjects such as mathematics, teachers organise competitions, museum visits and

other events which provide variety, promote greater interest in study and help raise standards.

The behaviour and safety of pupils are good
  • In many respects, the behaviour of students is outstanding. They are well motivated and behave
    well in lessons and around the school. They are mature, polite and courteous in their dealings
    with adults and other students. Most parents agree that the school makes sure students behave
    well at the school.
  • Attitudes to learning are also very good. For example, in one excellent lesson students worked in
    pairs to solve a mathematics problem. Two boys agreed to tackle the problem in different ways
    because they relished the extra challenge.
  • Students feel safe at the school. They say there is very little bullying and any that occurs is
    swiftly dealt with. There have been no recent racist incidents.
  • Sixth form students provide good role models for younger students. They act as mentors and a
    large number of them regularly volunteer their time to help with a variety of worthwhile
    community projects.
  • Safeguarding and child protection arrangements are good.
  • The behaviour and safety of students are not outstanding because the number of fixed-term
    exclusions is too high, especially among girls who are entitled to free school meals and those
    with special educational needs. Furthermore, attendance rates are not as good as they should
    be. Having compared data with other schools, the governing body charged the Principal with
    reducing the use of exclusions. As a result, the number of fixed-rate exclusions has fallen.
  • Attendance rates are steady and are in line with other Suffolk schools for students of this age
    but they are not as good as those for all secondary schools in the country. Attendance in the
    sixth form is good and improving.
The leadership and management are good
  • The recent consultation about the organisation of schools in this area has taken a good deal of
    senior leaders’ time over recent years. Points for improvement identified in the last inspection
    report were addressed in part but have been given insufficient priority of late. Results dipped in
    2012 and this served as a warning to the school to refocus on raising standards and improving
    the quality of provision.
  • That refocusing has been successful. Senior leaders, subject leaders and teachers are now
    checking the progress of students much more carefully and acting more readily to ensure
    progress does not falter. The drive for improvement is shared equally by governors, leaders,
    managers, teachers and other staff. Morale among this large staff is good.
  • With good support from the local authority, senior leaders are observing lessons regularly,
    helping to diagnose shortcomings and, where teaching is not good enough, providing
    professional expertise which has been successful in bringing about improvements, for example,
    in students’ progress in English, mathematics and other subjects.
  • The school has a well-established self-evaluation programme with a clear timetable for critical
    review. Subject leaders and teachers are held to account by senior managers who in turn are
    held to account by the Principal and the governing body. Self-evaluation is sometimes too
    generous because judgements about teaching, leadership and management are not linked
    sufficiently to outcomes.
  • Professional development is well organised and focuses on priorities in the school development
    plan. Teachers have good opportunities to attend training which meets their individual needs
    and interests. Here, and with other initiatives such as pupil premium spending, there is
    insufficient forensic scrutiny to determine which programmes have the most impact on
    improving the quality of teaching and raising achievement, and so help direct spending in future.
  • For their first year at the school, students study a broad range of compulsory subjects and,
    thereafter, have a very good choice of subjects, most of which lead to GCSE qualifications at age
    16. The range of on-site courses is supplemented by a small number of well-chosen courses
    which students pursue at other venues. The breadth of study contributes well to students’
    spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
  • Good leadership of the sixth form has led to steady improvements in the value added for the
    past three years. As in the main school, the range of courses offered in the sixth form is very
    good, and the school very successfully promotes the involvement of students in a variety of
    activities to the benefit of the wider community.
  • At the end of their schooling at Thurston, almost all students move into further or higher
    education or into apprenticeships or directly into employment.
  • The governance of the school:
    The governors make a very valuable contribution to the work of the school. They ask tough
    questions and are good at holding the Principal to account.
    They are well informed about the quality of teaching, and about the performance of students
    compared with those in other schools. They act to tackle underperformance where necessary,
    linking pay and rewards to performance.

As with other aspects of the budget, the governing body monitors pupil premium spending

well, but recognises it has not asked enough questions about the impact of the many different


What inspection judgements mean


Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes
that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures
that pupils are very well equipped for the next stage of their
education, training or employment.
Grade 2 Good A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well
for all its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage
of their education, training or employment.
Grade 3 Requires
A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it
is not inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within
24 months from the date of this inspection.
Grade 4 Inadequate A school that requires special measures is one where the school is
failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and
the school’s leaders, managers or governors have not
demonstrated that they have the capacity to secure the necessary
improvement in the school. This school will receive regular
monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.

A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and
requires significant improvement but leadership and management
are judged to be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular
monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.

School details

Unique reference number 124802
Local authority Suffolk
Inspection number 411759

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Secondary
School category Community
Age range of pupils 13–19
Gender of pupils Mixed
Gender of pupils in the sixth form Mixed
Number of pupils on the school roll 1376
Of which, number on roll in sixth form 323
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair Nigel McCartney
Principal Helen Wilson
Date of previous school inspection 10 February 2010
Telephone number 01359 230885
Fax number 01359 230880
Email address reveal email: adm…


print / save trees, print less