Thurston Community College
Bury St Edmunds
phone: 01359 230885
headteacher: Miss Diane Helen Wilson
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 #
- 0.6 miles Thurston Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP313RY (176 pupils)
- 1.8 mile Beyton Middle School IP309AA (439 pupils)
- 1.9 mile Rougham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP309JJ (169 pupils)
- 2 miles Great Barton Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP312RJ (172 pupils)
- 2.5 miles Norton CEVC Primary School IP313LZ (162 pupils)
- 2.5 miles Abbots Green Community Primary School IP327PJ (298 pupils)
- 2.5 miles First Base IP327PJ
- 3.1 miles Sebert Wood Community Primary School IP327EG (347 pupils)
- 3.1 miles Moreton Hall School IP327BJ (119 pupils)
- 3.2 miles Ixworth Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School IP312EL (202 pupils)
- 3.5 miles Ixworth Middle School IP312HS (323 pupils)
- 3.5 miles Priory School IP327BH
- 3.5 miles Priory School IP327BH (129 pupils)
- 3.5 miles Ixworth Free School IP312HS
- 3.7 miles St James CofE VA Middle School IP331YB (476 pupils)
- 3.8 miles Learning Support, Western Area Education Office IP332AR
- 3.9 miles South Lee School IP332BT (243 pupils)
- 4 miles Hardwick Primary School IP332PW (218 pupils)
- 4.1 miles Guildhall Feoffment Community Primary School IP331RE (270 pupils)
- 4.2 miles St Edmund's Catholic Primary School IP331QG (301 pupils)
- 4.3 miles Woolpit Community Primary School IP309RU (146 pupils)
- 4.3 miles Hardwick Middle School IP332PD (396 pupils)
- 4.3 miles St Louis Catholic Middle School IP333PH (434 pupils)
- 4.4 miles Tollgate Primary School IP326DG (249 pupils)
Thurston Community College
Norton Road, Thurston, Bury St Edmunds, IP31 3PB
|Inspection dates||1–2 May 2013|
|Overall effectiveness||This inspection:||Good||2|
|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
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
| 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.
|Keith Wheeldon, Lead inspector||Additional Inspector|
|Simon Hughes||Additional Inspector|
|Frances Le Pla||Additional Inspector|
|John Mason||Additional Inspector|
|Ian Starling||Additional Inspector|
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’
|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
- 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
- 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 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.
|Unique reference number||124802|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||Secondary|
|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|
|Date of previous school inspection||10 February 2010|
|Telephone number||01359 230885|
|Fax number||01359 230880|