We are working with local schools to help improve educational standards for all children in South Gloucestershire.
South Gloucestershire Council’s education, learning and skills team work closely with schools in the area to help improve educational standards for all, the top priority for the local authority.
Cabinet Member for Schools, Skills and Employment Cllr Erica Williams visited two of our highest performing primary schools at the end of the summer term to hear about their improvement journeys and to celebrate both the schools’ and their pupils’ achievements.
The visits offered an opportunity for Cllr Williams to meet with the head teachers and pupils at the schools – Abbotswood Primary School and St Helen’s CE Primary School – both of which have produced exceptional results in Key Stage 2 this year.
Cllr Williams spent time talking with the head teachers about how they have achieved such high standards and the importance of creating a clear vision. Both heads recognised the role of the local authority in supporting the raising of standards.
There was also an opportunity to observe the classes in action at Abbotswood where Cllr Williams was impressed with the standard of writing in the infant years, and she enjoyed listening to the Year 5 and 6 pupils at St Helen’s perform a song from their end of year performance.
Cllr Williams said: “Both schools have a warm, welcoming environment and it was an absolute pleasure to talk to the children who, although engrossed in their work, were happy to explain what they were doing with such enthusiasm. The staff and children should be very proud of their achievements.
“Abbotswood under the leadership of executive head Rob Cockle, has come such a long way to raise the expectations and quality of teaching in such an understated way. Rob demonstrates the enthusiasm and commitment that is inspiring.
“Similarly Andy Spens executive head of St Helen’s Primary School also has high expectations of his staff and pupils. The quality of work produced by the children was excellent. Andy explained how he is taking his school on a journey to maintain high standards, which as an authority we applaud and support.”
These are two very different schools with very individual stories to tell but share a common thread of high expectations and highly effective leadership. Both head teachers are operating as executives, are system leaders in education, and the schools showcase some of the very best practice in South Gloucestershire.
Abbotswood Primary School (executive head teacher – Rob Cockle) in Yate has seen a second year of strong performance, with exceptionally positive progress shown across the board. Until Rob took on the executive leadership role, the school was under performing. It is currently judged as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted, a rating which was given before Rob took over, however we believe it would now be rated ‘Good’ across the board and is one of our most improved schools. Rob has supported staff to become high effective teachers and leaders and has set high expectations of all across the school.
St Helen’s CE Primary School (executive head teacher – Andy Spens) in Alveston is the highest performing maintained school this year for progress and over the years has been on a journey from Requires Improvement to now ‘Good +’. The school will be re-inspected because there is evidence that it has the potential to be ‘Outstanding’. Andy has created one of the best visions of any school in South Gloucestershire and is focused heavily on people, practice and high quality curriculum. This is a school that others visit to look at effective governance, and Andy, because of this success, is collaborating and sharing his expertise with other schools.