Courtwood is an average sized primary school in Croydon. This was their first assessment.
A Warm Welcome at Courtwood
On arrival at Courtwood Primary I received a warm welcome from the Executive Headteacher Trisha Farrelly. Trisha sets the tone for a supportive, caring and inclusive environment with high aspirations for all.
The school’s values permeate the life of the school and the SLT lead by positive, and enthusiastic example. The SENCO, who is a member of SLT, oversees the provision for children with SEND and ensures the classroom environment and support provided at every level is appropriate to their needs. In short, a forward-thinking Leadership Team who are committed to ensuring the best outcomes for all pupils leads the school.
Purposeful and Positive Environment
The school environment is purposeful and positive. Light and bright with lovely displays in corridors and classrooms. Many of the outdoor spaces have beautifully painted and themed murals. The school benefits from being located on a green site that is used to great effect through a well-developed programme of outdoor learning.
Courtwood is a Forest School
There is a fabulous woodland area aptly named ‘Wise Owl Woods’ (WOW) which were gifted to the school in 2013. The WOW is used to enhance learning across the curriculum, to facilitate this learning two members of staff hold a level 3 ‘Forest School’ accreditation.
Nurturing knowledge; learning for life
Teachers and support staff, work closely together planning carefully to meet pupils’ individual needs. All the staff I spoke to during my visit were positive, energetic and fully committed to the pupils and to the school. They share a common, inclusive vision and they feel they have excellent support to enable them to do their work. Staff are encouraged and enabled to develop their skills through a range of CPD. All staff were included in the development of a strapline which they felt fully encompassed the school ethos ‘Nurturing knowledge; learning for life’.
A Supportive Staff
All staff are involved in supporting pupils and have the drive to improve their own practice to benefit the children. Lessons are well planned, interesting and challenging with many imaginative and exciting activities planned for pupils. Features of lessons include active learning, good modelling by all staff and assessment for learning strategies.
Meeting Each Child’s Needs
Professionals work closely together to ensure focused and specific targets are set to meet each child’s developmental and education needs. A combination of robust teaching and learning strategies, strong inclusive values, a thorough tracking system and excellent behaviour systems, support the progress of all pupils including those from low starting points, pupil premium and MAT pupils.
The Importance of Pupil Voice
Pupil voice is valued. Children have roles and responsibilities in the school including peer mediators the school council, digital leaders, playground buddies and helping hands. The children love being involved as young leaders and relish the opportunity to do more. Pupils were keen to talk about their school. Comments included,” I like all my teachers because they make me happy and they are fun.” “It is easy to find a teacher to talk to”. Pupils achieve well and teaching and support staff work very hard to ensure they are continually improving.
Excellent Relationships with Parents
The school has fostered excellent relationships with parents and communicates with them in a variety of ways to involve them in the life of the school. Parents speak very highly of the school and its staff. A group of parents spoken to talked about the caring and kind approach that the school takes towards themselves and their children.
‘The school always goes the extra mile”. “You can really talk to the teachers here, even the Headteacher or any of the senior staff they will always find the time”. “I moved to this area because I wanted my child to go to this school”. “Everyone wants to come here”. “The only help I got when my life was difficult was from this school”. “The staff here are excellent”, “All the teachers here are brilliant”.
How Parents Help Out in School
Parents come into school to read with children on a weekly basis and they also volunteer to help in various ways in the school. In addition, parents also participate in school projects, such as fund raising. Parents of children with SEND are delighted with the way their children’s needs are met, whether these are medical needs, emotional needs, ADHD, ASD or a disability. Comments made included “Our kids are fully supported by all staff and by the other children, this is a lovely school”.
Making Sure No Child is Left Behind
The school has a positive reputation in the local community and has fostered close links with partner schools with whom it shares CPD, planning and expertise. The school has good links with local agencies, such as speech therapists and EP services. Without exception, all staff, parents, governors and pupils spoken to during my visit were extremely positive about the school’s work. There is a very genuine sense of team effort, of mutual support, of listening, discussing and of including everyone. Courtwood Primary School is a very inclusive school where all children are valued and staff endeavour to ensure no child is left behind.
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