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You can't keep a good man down

A head due for retirement has taken on a struggling school in addition to his own successful one. Helen Ward reports

HEADTEACHER Robert Emuss could have spent the next two terms winding down before retirement.

But instead the head of Coppins Green school in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has taken on a nearby school with serious weaknesses.

Mr Emuss will retain the reins at the 920-pupil Coppins Green while becoming executive head of the struggling Frobisher primary. He is seeing his new school through next week's key stage 2 tests and an Office for Standards in Education inspection starting on May 19.

Mr Emuss, who is also president of the National Primary Schools Association, said: "This was something that desperately needed doing and I could not resist the challenge. Frobisher has a poor reputation in terms of results. Finding staff, and particularly leaders, was proving almost impossible.

"The authority has had an advisory head in there. She has been doing a great job but is going somewhere else.

"I do not like to see a primary school getting into difficulties and that could happen to Frobisher without anyone to take over."

Sue Faulkner, former advisory head at Frobisher, said: "The partnership with Coppins Green is an exciting idea. The staff here have worked very hard and made a lot of progress. I feel confident that the progress will continue."

At Coppins Green, 75 per cent of pupils reached level 4 in English last year and 65 per cent did so in maths. Frobisher primary came fourth from bottom in the authority, with 34 per cent of pupils reaching level 4 English, and 42 per cent in maths.

Its 2001 inspection report praised the optimism and energy of staff and governors, but said poor attendance and behaviour, and weaknesses in teaching in the juniors were limiting children's progress.

Mrs Faulkner has focused on behaviour, the curriculum and working with parents. Mr Emuss wants to introduce accelerated learning techniques which have worked in his school.

He said: "My wife, Marian, is a deputy head and is very happy that I'm continuing. She knows I love what I'm doing.

"She is a tower of strength and it does help that she feels the same way about primary education."

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