Community feel at heart of Sheffield primary - School focus: Mansel Primary School

Mansel Primary is more than just a school, it is a hub for the community it serves and is a place where families and their children always come first.

By Alana Roberts
Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 11:25 am
Mansel Primary School headteacher Emily Matthews with pupils
Mansel Primary School headteacher Emily Matthews with pupils

‘Building a caring learning community where everyone belongs, is valued, and believes they can achieve their best’ is the motto at the primary school on Chaucer Road.

Every child that walks through the doors is treated as an individual and learning and extra support is tailored to them, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

That support is also extended to their families, with a whole community feel ingrained into every aspect of the school.

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Children enjoying art lessons at Mansel Primary School

Headteacher Emily Matthews said: “We look at the child and say what are their needs then provide for that. There is a focus on building relationships with our children and their families so that builds in a community.

“Our whole ethos is around relationships so we make sure we know the child inside out, we know their family inside out but also from that comes a sense of belonging which a lot of our children don’t have.

“Once the child belongs somewhere they then start to believe they can, whether that's believe they can go to university or they can achieve stage three swimming, anything.”

Every morning families are invited to use the school’s free breakfast club, which is very well-attended by those from both Mansel and the nearby Yewlands Academy.

A Mansel Primary football team following their recent win

It offers children the chance to enjoy a healthy and balanced breakfast ensuring they are settled, ready, and eager to learn as soon as the school day starts.

However, if a lighter breakfast is better suited the bagel bar, situated at the school entrance, is open so that every pupil can collect a free bagel if they wish.

It’s part of something Mansel Primary calls ‘wrap-around care’ ensuring that every child gets access to as much support as they need before, during, and after the school day.

School business manager Danielle Sapsed-Byrne said: “We’re opening our doors to the community early which means that children are able to be here on time and it also supports working families and also starts children here earlier so they're getting that provision and some of them really like that routine.

Pupils enjoying reading at Mansel Primary School

“They’ll come and play sports for half an hour before school and some need that energy expenditure – it’s that wrap around care before and after lessons. It’s the pastoral team that run the breakfast club, they are around and again it is just bridging those relationships with families and children before the school day.

“We’re all about making those positive relationships with children that break down some of the other barriers that they might have.”

After school clubs are also available for the children at Mansel Primary, who can choose from a wide range of extracurricular activities including football, writing, kickboxing and ICT, which change each half term.

“Some of the children here have a vast amount of talent you wouldn’t really be able to unveil with the PE lessons necessarily,” Miss Sapsed-Byrne added.

Children having fun during breaktime at Mansel Primary School

“We’ve got some really talented footballers and they won a Sheffield tournament the other week. We’ve had a few girls go to a gymnastics competition, again over the city, and we were in the top 10 – they’re getting more and more rewards from these competitions but it is through doing the after school clubs that they realise all this talent.”

Whether having a visitor attend school or sending the children on a trip, school visits are planned every half term and made accessible to every pupil to help boost their confidence and allow them to become fully immersed in their learning.

This is particularly evident during the schools two residential trips – a visit to Kingswood Hall for Year 3 children and to The Oakes activity centre in Year 6.

During these trips, they take part in adventurous activities such as the high rope and night walks to boost their self-esteem and give them experiences they wouldn't necessarily be able to have in the school environment.

There are also regular school performances where students take on various roles.

Mrs Matthews said: “That’s all around raising aspirations and giving the children that confidence to try something new. That is an amazing experience for some of our shy children who then have a go and you see a completely different side to them with regards to confidence.

Children at Mansel Primary School enjoy climbing on the adventure playground

“For the parents and for the community, it shows that these kids have got some real talent.”

Family events also planned into the school calendar such as the ‘Christmas eve-eve’ celebrations in which families can enjoy a free Christmas dinner and entertainment or the annual Easter egg hunt.

Miss Sapsed-Byrne said: “We recognise we are at the heart of the community so one, we want to build those relationships but positive relationships. We want families to feel welcome to come into school for these events and just to be a part of their children’s education.

“It is so important that they are part of their child’s education. Some parents are really confident and will just be proactive, others will have had a negative experience themselves with school so it’s about breaking down those barriers.”

During the recent parent evening, the school also decided to invite both parents and children to enjoy their evening meal for free in a bid to become even more welcoming for families.

Parents were full of praise for the school and its staff, with one commenting: “My kids love coming to Mansel, you all do a fantastic job.”