I want to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Once upon a time there was a primary school. In general the children were very happy but there were pockets of behaviour issues and it had a bad reputation that went back decades. Results were not as good as they could have been. People in the town looked down on the school.
A year ago, a handsome prince (sorry, headteacher) came to the school. He said, “We will make this a very good school. Parents will soon be wanting to send their children here.”
He made changes to the management and brought in chickens and rabbits and iPads which made the children happy. He filled his office with Addictaballs and games. He got them singing pop songs in assembly. He took them to sing at the O2 Arena and the Primary Proms at the Albert Hall. He took them on wonderful educational school trips, including an overnight stay at Cheddar Gorge for Year 5. He took every single class to London on the train. He encouraged them to play in the snow in the winter. He improved the children’s behaviour. He set boundaries. He instilled the children with respect for themselves, their friends, their teachers and their school. He gave them a sense of pride in their work and their school. He encouraged them to do their best work, independently. He raised standards in reading, writing, spelling, comprehension and maths. He encouraged the teachers to work as a better team and gave them hope. He gave them a lot of extra work to do but he also gave them the encouragement and support they needed. He showed them how to create incredible displays and use themes, such as storytelling, in all their lessons.
The scary Ofsted inspectors came to visit. They were very impressed. The children proudly showed off their work. The inspectors said they “thoroughly enjoyed listening to the African drumming” which the children wanted them to see. The children told them lots about their time in school. One of the inspectors was asked to sign a child’s card to his mummy so she did. The inspectors said they would be happy to send their children and grandchildren to the school. They wrote that “the school no longer requires significant improvement”. They said that “a good proportion [of EYFS children] is already starting to write full sentences, which is better than expected for this stage of the year”. They said that “progress in Key Stages 1 and 2 has accelerated rapidly since the last inspection…It is getting faster each term because of better teaching and an exciting curriculum. Pupils are readily engaging in learning. They are filling gaps in their learning and developing new knowledge quickly.” They wrote that teachers “are consistently challenging pupils to achieve their best at all times so expectations and aspirations are rising continuously”. They declared that “The new themed approach to teaching subjects has brought a ‘buzz’ to learning. Teachers plan a comprehensive range of activities that help pupils learn the National Curriculum subjects in an exciting and interesting way. It is fostering their curiosity, enthusiasm and motivation because teaching is imaginative.”
Ofsted said that “Pupils’ behaviour has improved significantly, in a very short period of time, because of the firm stance taken by senior leaders and other staff… Equally they are motivated by the broad range of rewards and praise systems that have been introduced. They are polite, courteous and take good care of each other.”
Ofsted said, “This is a good school.” They saw what we see and they said what we’ve been saying.
And they all lived happily ever after.
But it’s not the end; it’s just the beginning of an incredible journey for a once put-upon school. And I’m so glad to be there for the ride.