North West London
over 40 per cent of the school at this time were in the official category of disadvantaged children. I acknowledge that previous leadership teams tried very hard to achieve improvements and money had been spent on additional teaching staff, particularly for year 6. The IEB changed direction and now spent money on leadership to get the raised results we were looking for. Before even beginning, we addressed the school mission statement – then “aim, believe and achieve” – and changed it to “building the future today”. We wanted to be clear about why we were doing what we were doing. Every action stems from the belief that we are building the future through the education of children at a critical point in their development. Our vision, enshrined in our school development plan, became “give every child in our school the character, confidence, skills and knowledge to make the best choices as they build their futures”. We introduced character cards and best effort work commendations known as “golden marshmallows”. These served to emphasise character and positive attitude – and it’s character and positivity which I believe are Earlham Primary School’s superpowers.
The staff had experienced a succession of leadership changes, including the disbanding of the governing body and the installation of an Independent Examinations Board (IEB) by the Local Education Authority (LEA). There were monthly project board meetings with the LEA and the school improvement officer visited at least every fortnight. The IEB resolved to raise the outcomes for pupils by appointing a permanent head teacher and an almost entirely new leadership team in 2015. The improvement this entailed would be visibly affirmed by a “good” Ofsted grading. The situation in Earlham Coming in as a new head teacher, there were various areas that needed addressing. Staff morale was low – teacher turnover had been very high and many of the teaching staff were new to the school. Earlham School had undergone so many changes implemented by successive leaderships that there was no established “Earlham way”. The curriculum had to be addressed, a new form of assessment strategy had to be established and the way we implemented teaching needed to be confronted. National changes in assessment systems, going “beyond levels”, came at a fortuitous time, for it provided the opportunity to develop an entirely new approach to assessing our children and establish our “way”. The children complained of “feeling dizzy” about staff changes and the biggest immediate issue was the 2015 KS2 outcomes, following a year in which every government floor target had been missed. In 2015, only one floor target relating to progress was met and children were leaving primary school hopelessly underprepared for secondary school. Making matters worse, these issues were additional to other challenges the children faced due to the socioeconomic sector to which they nominally belonged –
Staff morale was low – teacher turnover had been very high and many of the teaching staff were new to the school
Achieving through positive energy
41 EARLHAM PRIMARY SCHOOL |
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