STAFFORDSHIRE SCHOOL VISITS – 8TH OCTOBER 2015
REDHILL PRIMARY SCHOOL, CANNOCK
Redhill Primary School relocated into the new school building in time for the start of term in September 2014. Previously, the school was located in an ageing and time-expired building on the same site but it was a difficult situation as the KS1 and KS2 elements were physically separated.
First impressions are always important for any organisation. On arrival, a visitor is directed towards a warm, welcoming and professional reception facility with plenty of space for visitors to sign in without compromising access for other users of the school. Security is very effective, but without feeling intrusive.
The overall design of the school leaves a visitor with a feeling of large, light and airy spaces that offer pupils and staff a variety of teaching spaces specifically designed to aid the delivery of the modern curriculum. Wide circulation routes offer terrific opportunities for displays, and breakout spaces for 1 to 1 teaching or small group work. The school is determined that pupils should be able to develop independent learning skills for, to quote Libby Banks the headteacher, “we want interesting children, not just educated children”.
Every classroom is spacious, light and airy, with very good furniture and IT equipment. All classrooms have direct access to outside, enabling indoor and outdoor teaching. Interactive whiteboards are standard throughout, with clever use of furniture for storage. Furthermore the pupil toilets can be accessed from outside, meaning that dirt and mess need not be carried from outside and through the classrooms in times of poor weather. The headteacher feels that the new toilet designs have had a significant improvement on pupil behaviour.
Every child has a locker within his or her classroom for coats and hats, meaning that these don’t clutter up the classroom or corridors. Most importantly, the consistent design of the teaching spaces assists the consistency of teaching across the school.
The school has an open library that, once again, is light, bright and airy with a welcoming feel to it. Pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their own reading with the support of teachers. The library also serves as a multi-purpose space for meetings, 1 to 1 support and a variety of other uses.
Another great space within school is that used for cooking, which is also used for the breakfast club and a variety of nurture groups. These multi-functional spaces are so important in busy schools and they enable a flexible approach to the curriculum for staff rather than being frustrated by a rigid and one-dimensional building.
It is now possible to make an early assessment of the impact that the new building has had on teaching and learning, and the lives of staff, pupils and parents. So, the recruitment and retention of staff has improved, with student teachers eager to be appointed to the staff after their individual placements. Parents are equally keen to enrol their children within school, with a noticeable increase in out of catchment applications.
Pupil attendance has also improved. Attendance rates in February 2014 (the old school) were 94.04%. In this new school, and against a target of 95.2%, an attendance rate in September of 98.01% was achieved – an impressive improvement.
Finally, the new building is much more efficient in energy terms and maintenance, allowing school funds to be targeted on teaching and learning.
The headteacher spoke of the school’s values being “tolerance, respect, independence, resilience, cooperation and responsibility”. All of these values were very evident on my visit and it is clear that this is a school that is thriving.
Neil Turley MRICS
Business Development Manager