How a Head Teacher got this Derby school from zero to hero...

The secrets of how an Allenton head teacher won its first ever 'good' rating. A school is celebrating after transforming itself from "inadequate" to "good" with the help of a new headteacher. Allenton Community Primary School's Jon Fordham took over in November 2013 after it was slated by Ofsted inspectors.

 

Now after receiving its new rating, Mr Fordham has paid tribute to the hard work of teachers and pupils in turning the school around. He says that the secret was to "raise the aspirations of children" and "increase the expectations of the staff". He brought in a set of rules, dubbed "the Allenton Way", for all the staff to follow and help understand what is expected of them.

 

Mr Fordham says it was important for him to prove that you can encourage a student to get to the best possible level, no matter what their background and especially in Allenton. He said: "When I came here, I noticed there was a strong feeling that the quality of teaching definitely wasn't where it should be because we are in Allenton. "I wanted to make sure I changed that, which is why I brought in our motto: 'We care that our children understand, believe in and achieve their full potential.'"

 

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The school asked children to believe in four key values – toughness, cleverness, thoughtfulness and exchanging ideas. It describes these as the four "superheroes" – resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and reciprocity. Students and staff are asked to use them every lesson to help them learn.

 

Back in 2013, the school was placed in special measures after Ofsted inspectors judged it to be inadequate in all areas,except behaviour and the safety of pupils. Mr Fordham came in as a deputy head teacher but was promoted to run the school after the previous head teacher, Julia Tiley, left.

 

In 2014, the school converted to academy status, which took it out of local authority control and gave it more independence. It was taken over by the Transform Trust, a group of academy schools based around the East Midlands.

 

Mr Fordham said: "I think becoming an academy has allowed us to do far more, such as working with other schools in the trust to collaborate and improve ourselves, including our teachers. We have a coaching model at the school where we can reaffirm with teachers what they can do to make sure pupils get the best possible from their students. Being an academy has allowed us to do these things and to use resources available to us as part of the trust we are in."

 

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Students from the school's council also said they enjoy the systems that have been brought in. Connor Massa, nine, said that "the teachers are kind and they help you try to understand something, whatever happens", and Anna Aziz, 11, added: "If you struggle, teachers will try to help where they can and they make sure you know what you learned in the lessons."

 

The newest Ofsted report praises the leadership of the school, saying that "the head teacher is determined" that all pupils do the best they can. It also notes the good teaching at the school compared to 2013's report, which said that that teachers "did not match work well enough to pupils' needs or plan carefully enough". 

 

Inspectors did point out in the current report that "pupils are not always challenged by their work" as "teachers' expectations are not consistently high". Teachers don't always follow the school's doctrine by the letter, according to the report, but Mr Fordham has said that will soon change. He said: "We now know what we have to do so when the next inspection comes, we can hopefully work towards an outstanding rating."

 

Click here to read the article in the Derby Telegraph

 

 

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