It only dawned on me recently that, when we selected the infant school for our kids, we hadn’t actually looked at the junior school that it feeds into and that, seeing as they will be spending longer there than at the infant school, this was probably unwise. Anyway, last night the junior school had an open evening and I took my eldest along. And, boy, was I impressed! The head’s presentation was far from slick – the remote broke down for the PowerPoint presentation and he had to keep bobbing up and down to move the slides on, and he only remembered to introduce himself a couple of minutes into his talk. But I think that says a lot – actually, he was more keen to tell us about his school and his children than about himself. He struck me as a really kind man who genuinly wanted the best for the children in his care. Everything he said was positive, everything was about building up children’s self-esteem, everything was about the children.
The point at which he won me over completely was when he said; “We’ve tweaked the National Curriculum a bit. Well, actually, we’ve used it to suit our purposes.” He went on to explain that, whilst the kids have full access to the NC, they are not bound by it. If a class shows a massive interest in, say, learning Russian, and the teacher can accomodate it, then they go with it. Despite this, SATs results (yawn) are excellent (I would argue it could also be because of this?).
The school is incredibly well cared for and well resourced – swimming pool, football pitches, library, ICT etc etc. The staff we met are friendly and approachable. They have links to about 8 countries, are committed to learning outside the classroom and have an excellent pastoral system. Yet, last year, when Ofsted made a (one day) visit, the inspector only deemed it a ‘good’ school with many outstanding features. The reason? SATs results had ‘dipped’ that year.
I have one question – what is more important? A positive learning experience that builds confidence and self esteem and teaches children to respect each other and their environment, or level 4 SATs? To me the answer is obvious.