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New deal for youngsters at Weston St Mary Primary School

Pupils show Mrs Walker their work in the sand pit at Weston St Mary Primary School.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-210918-080TW
Pupils show Mrs Walker their work in the sand pit at Weston St Mary Primary School.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-210918-080TW

Senior staff leading the turnaround at Weston St Mary Primary School want parents to know that they are in it for the long haul.

After a turbulent and chaotic period when the school had six different head teachers in three years, new head of school Rachael Walker is leading “a focus on teaching, learning and assessment”.

The school went into special measures after an Ofsted inspection in July 2017 which concluded that Weston St Mary was “inadequate” in every area.

But Mrs Walker, along with executive head teacher Alison Flack, teachers and governors, are in the second year of a “complete overhaul” of leadership and management since Weston St Mary was officially affiliated with Whaplode Primary School last September.

Mrs Walker said: “We have 28 children, although we’re in the process of having some mid-year admissions as well.

“We must be one of the smallest schools in Lincolnshire but we have a very strong finance team that has really secured the budget over the last year since we’ve been in situ.

“The past year has been both rewarding and challenging, but we’ve just been driven by the knowledge that children two villages along from Whaplode weren’t getting the deal they should be getting.

Ofsted’s inspection report on Weston St Mary in July 2017 spelt out that “leadership of the school is inadequate, successive cohorts of pupils have significantly underachievedand governors have failed to ensure that the school improves”.

But a special measures monitoring inspection by Ofsted in May this year found Weston St Mary to be a very different school.

This report said: “Teachers use their subject knowledge effectively to ensure that pupils are being taught at the correct level and are challenged to achieve more.

“The permanent appointment of the executive head teacher and head of school has provided much-needed strength and stability to the school.

“Governors have a secure understanding of the challenges the school faces and are determined to bring about permanent and sustained change for good.”

Mrs Walker said: “Weston St Mary has a new lease of life, our children are both challenged and excited to learn, they are independent and have opportunities to aspire in a way that hasn’t been seen for a long time.”

When pupils returned for the 2018-19 school year three weeks ago, they found new-look classrooms with lockers, cupboards, new tables and chairs, library room and outdoor area.

Mrs Walker said: "A parent who came and looked round the school because their child is starting here in a couple of weeks' time said 'The atmosphere here is lovely'.

"The children here are happy and safe, we're providing some exciting learning opportunities and our children just love coming to school because they are doing so well."

Jackie Waters-Dewhurst, chief executive officer for Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust which oversees Weston St Mary, said: "As chairman of the interim local board (ILB) of governors, I have watched the school develop over the past year into a place where children are able to access the very best provision.

"The changes made are thanks to the hard work and dedication of the leadership team, the rest of the staff, my fellow governors on the ILB and the support of parents, not to mention a wonderfully engaged group of pupils.

"It has been a privilege and a joy to work with them all."

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