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 was a large three-form (now four-form) entry school in the South London borough of Sutton. Through The London Leadership Strategy (LLS), the Headteacher 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 Headteacher 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:
The school's end of Key Stage 2 attainment was broadly average over time compared with the local authority's average. However, as a low-attaining authority, the school's standards had declined over time in relation to national averages. Within the first four weeks of the term High Halstow had:
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.