How would we describe our school?
CURRENT SCHOOL CONTEXT as of September 2023: NOR 397. Our school is a school that ensures that children’s best interests are at the heart of every decision we make. Our amazing children and staff make our school - and pre school- the success it is, and it is our moral duty to continue to ensure that we provide the kind of experiences seen by Ofsted in November 2018 so that the Yr 6 pupils leave us genuinely ‘secondary ready’ - in every sense, academically, emotionally and socially. As well as delivering a high- quality education, we pride ourselves on putting the safeguarding and pastoral care of all our community - pupils, staff and parents - at the forefront of our service and we therefore prioritise resourcing this area. Our rationale is that if children and staff are in the right mind-set to learn/teach - then they will achieve more. We maintain a heavy pastoral presence on the gate at the start and end of every day to be a constant point of contact for the most vulnerable families and this is reflected, we believe, in our positive ‘Parent View’ Ofsted scores - 92% would recommend us to another parent.
We have 2 ‘Nurture and Pastoral Family Support’ workers to ensure that there is greater consistency between home and school and feedback is that this is working exceptionally well ,especially for the parents. The pastoral team have developed strong working relationships with parents, external agencies such as the MHST and charitable organisations such as SPACEYOUTH PROJECT and CAP to ensure we are able to offer a comprehensive package of support for the whole family, including running the ‘Incredible Years’ parenting course. Staff have also engaged in extensive training, such as the ‘de-escalation’ training to be able to provide a varied range of therapeutic interventions for small groups and individuals which we are continuing to refine in order to build a ‘mentally healthy’ and inclusive school. The vast majority of children who transfer in year come to us because of our reputation in this field, and the ‘feel’ of the school.
The formal intervention programmes focus on core subjects but we concentrate very much on emotional well-being and making the children feel secure within themselves. We have invested heavily in INSET for our staff during training days to reflect this, and currently are working with the MHST to provide a more bespoke and therapeutic service for our most vulnerable families. Staff are now using ‘Zones of Regulation’ techniques regularly, and we also use drawing and talking and Lego therapy, to name but a few, for the children most emotionally vulnerable. We have also established a diversity group for those children who are struggling with how they ‘fit in’- looking at diversity and inclusivity in its widest sense.
School outcomes in Summer 2023 indicate that our children in Year 6 leave us secondary ready. Their SATS results show this, [we are in line or slightly above the national figure in most areas] as do their attitudes to their learning, which visitors frequently comment on. Our EYFS GLD is above the 2022 National figure, and an increase on our last years’ figure. Our KS1 Phonics check result was significantly higher than the previous year and was in line with the National figure of 2022. Our MTC results were also high, in line with last year’s school figures. However, Yr 2 SATS and Teacher Assessments were again lower than we’d hoped for, but this was not entirely unexpected considering how much disruption these children had faced without the most basic of key skills being firmly embedded. This year group will be a particular focus right from the start of the year to ensure that they make rapid and sustained progress.
In the previous two years, we have established baselines in core areas for where the children were, having used a recovery /tutoring programme that allowed for them to make as much progress as possible. We recruited an experienced retired teacher to help us with this and also used the expertise of a Governor who used to lead an outstanding infant provision to help us with KS1 recovery work. We are also using a highly experienced member of the Senior Team to create a bespoke group who have been identified as not quite next year ready to so that she can use more personalised ways of delivering the curriculum to suit their needs. Our pre school and EYFS staff ensure that our youngest children get off to a flying start; initial baseline assessments highlight areas of need and early support is put in place immediately. EYFS [ and our pre school] are using the Wellcomm programme to support children’s communication and language needs.
In addition to this, we have a formal enrichment programme giving opportunities that the children in school may not have had in recent years. We want them to feel that it’s OK to get ‘out of their comfort zone’. Activities have included Forest Schools, Art for Wellbeing, Master Maths, Creative Writing, Veggie Cookery, Marvellous Music, to name but a few. We also have recently introduced the junior Duke of Edinburgh award for our lower Key Stage 2 pupils - which has been brilliant! Our termly extra curricular clubs list typically consists of between 14-20 activities available every week. Over 75% of pupils last year attended these.
We are very fortunate to have a talented, committed staff who always strive to create positive and memorable learning experiences for the children from pre school age right through to Yr 6. They have regular subject based INSET and access to the National College webinars/training to continuously refine their practice and they are always ‘open’ to new, different ideas to enhance their professional performance. Staff also receive weekly CASPAR safeguarding updates. [ They also manage to retain a real sense of humour even when things get tricky!]
Staff and pupil well-being are prioritised at all times; this ensures that we retain and motivate our staff, many of them have been here for over ten years, and that our children are supported effectively so they have the best possible chances of thriving in all aspects of school life. Our Thrive team have close links with the mental health team and regularly disseminate any new training and knowledge to all staff. Our two Senior Mental Health Leads ensure that mental health and well-being permeates all of our practices and policies. The Thrive team and ELSAs provide support and regularly ‘check in’ on identified children throughout the day. To promote staff well-being, our SLT will always make time to listen to any concerns and provide whatever support is required. The headteacher’s door is very much ‘open’ for any member of staff, whenever they might need a chat. We minimise the number of meetings we have to those that are only absolutely necessary and we encourage staff to work from home when they have their PPA time and whenever possible, during directed staff meeting and INSET time. We actively encourage a healthy work-life balance by closing school at a reasonable time at the end of the school day.
For this year, our main priorities will be very much about : Improving the achievements of identified cohorts currently underperforming so that they are narrowing the gaps between the national figures/national expectations, empowering parents to better support their own children’s emotional health and ensuring a robust succession plan is in place for the next cohort of teachers wanting senior/middle leadership roles.