Academic news from Alan Petrie, Educational Consultant
I have been working with Madeleine and the staff as an education consultant, bringing an independent view of the school, its systems and provision, for the last six and a half years in order for them to reflect on their practice and feel confident that they are offering the best for your children. I have been fortunate in that time to be associated, at a distance, with a school which I feel is doing exactly that.
I have been in education for over 45 years, 23 as head teacher of four state primary schools in Nottinghamshire. In the last 10 years I have been involved with assessing national professional qualifications for senior leaders, prospective and recently qualified head teachers for the National College for Teaching and Leadership. My last school was a high performing church primary on the edge of a former mining town which was rated outstanding by Ofsted and often had a waiting list. This was a lovely school to work in with children eager to learn, supportive parents and first-rate staff. We offered a rich curriculum, some limited lunch-time and after school clubs (mostly sport or music) and a variety of visits and a residential for Year 6. Each year the older children in the school had the opportunity to take part in a production, ably produced and staged in the church hall by several of the staff with a talent for music and theatre. We did all we could but still we could not offer what Springmead delivers each day.
At Springmead the curriculum is similar to the one in my last school, based on themes which enable children to learn in a holistic way, seeing how knowledge and concepts link naturally across subjects rather than in discrete and compartmentalised chunks. But here learning is enriched in so many more ways, with “Seize the Day” opportunities, in a way that my school could not. Further, the regular outdoor learning from “Go Explore” and the innovative teaching of Bushcraft, chimes well with recent views of getting children out and active, this was in place from the inception of Springmead 18 years ago!
All of this is crowned by the personal development of the pupils. They are imbued with the ‘Springmead Way’ which provides a moral compass for developing personalities, children are encouraged to participate in a whole host of clubs and activities, challenge walks, awards and sporting activities. Add to that the opportunities for them to build their confidence by performing in class assemblies, the poetry competition, productions and Showcase and Springmead is well ahead of similar schools.
None of this, however, would be possible without a dedicated and talented staff and far-sighted leadership. As parents of children who attend Springmead I’m sure that you are acutely aware of the quality of the education your child receives from all the above. You are also aware that the prime reason for a school is to provide an education which prepares them for their future and expect that education to be the best academically.
This week I have been in school conducting joint lesson and assembly observations with Madeleine. We have, yet again, seen teaching which is universally outstanding and, at times, inspirational with lessons and assemblies ranging from Tutankhamun, maths through computer spreadsheets to Mercy-in-Action, the Lord’s Prayer, 17th century London, Ancient Greece, phonics and letter sounds, to shape work and building blocks with shaving foam! A truly varied curriculum but one with clear academic outcomes.
When visiting Springmead I am reminded of something a Professor of Education at Cambridge University once said to a head teacher’s conference I attended, “think of a school that makes you long for childhood – and try to make yours that school”. Springmead is as near to that dream as I think it is possible to get. Enjoy it through your children and be pleased that you are enabling them to experience it first-hand.