High Halstow Primary case study
The collaboration between High Halstow Primary School and Avenue Primary School is a prime example of why it is crucial for schools to work together in partnership, and to be outward looking.
High Halstow Primary School is a small, one-form entry rural school on the Hoo Peninsula in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. In contrast, Avenue Primary School is a large three-form (part-way through expansion to four-form) entry school in the South London borough of Sutton.
Through the London Leadership Strategy (LLS), the head teacher at Avenue, a National Leader of Education (NLE), was asked to support at High Halstow on an interim basis until the school’s new leadership structure of substantive executive Head teacher and Head of school was in place. The Williamson Trust, an academy trust of which High Halstow is one of four schools, supported this.
Two areas were quickly identified as the main challenges in the school, which were:
- Low expectations of attainment
- Little opportunity for the modelling of outstanding teaching
The school’s end of key stage 2 attainment was broadly average over time compared with the LA’s average. However, as a low-attaining authority, the school’s standards had declined over time in relation to national.
Within the first four weeks of the term we had:
- Secured two places on the LLS’s Successful Teaching & Learning programme for KS2 teachers
- Arranged for teachers at Avenue Primary School to take classes at High Halstow to avoid using supply teachers
- Begun to train senior and middle leaders in the school on classroom observation skills
- Re-written the school’s SEF
- Created a Raising Attainment Plan (RAP) to secure rapid progress
- Arranged for teachers at High Halstow to observe teaching at Avenue Primary School
- Raised the expectations of attainment for the whole school community
After just four weeks of the term, Ofsted arrived for a Section 5 inspection. Governors had discussed the position of the school in the preceding weeks, and the two-day inspection was a professional and robust journey with the leadership team, governors, the Trust, and the inspectors.
The inspection graded the school as ‘requires improvement’, and recognised that, ‘the interim executive headteacher, acting head of school and governing body are deeply committed to raising pupils’ achievement and are clear about how to achieve this’.
For the rest of the term, teachers at Avenue Primary School continued to work with teachers from High Halstow. Building the capacity to provide school-to-school support enables Avenue to retain great teachers and to provide opportunities for them to experience a range of schools. Avenue has benefitted from the experience as much as High Halstow.
KS2 attainment will be higher in 2013 for High Halstow, and the school can expect to go from strength to strength over the next few years as it continues to work with other schools.