School focus: Abbeyfield Primary Academy
Abbeyfield Primary Academy is a creative place where students are given every opportunity to thrive.
Through every lesson and activity pupils are encouraged to express and challenge their creativity by exploring new skills.
The school recently took part in its first ever arts week where children go off timetable and focus on cultural activities.
Deputy headteacher Kate Abell said: “We’re trying to develop the arts side of the curriculum and make sure all our children have access to a really powerful week.
“We’re doing creative arts, music, dance and drama and all year groups were given a poem and a painting to inspire their arts week. One year group is concentrating on watercolour, another has acrylic perspective painting – so they're all developing different skills.
“The school has managed to find the money for lots of new resources which is amazing for the children that they get the use of those.
“The idea is that, during the week, they develop their skills and then at the end we have a gallery where we show their work to the parents and celebrate with the community.”
Situated in the heart of Burngreave, Abbeyfield Primary caters for a diverse population – something they recognise and celebrate on a daily basis.
Reading is also an area which is heavily promoted within the school. Children are encouraged to develop a love of literature.
Mrs Abell said: “This year we’ve just started the I Love Reading project which is where children, intensively for two weeks, read every single night and they write about what they’re reading.
“In Key Stage 1 parents came in every morning to read with their children, in Key Stage 2 they came in to do that Monday and Friday and then we had a big celebration at the end and presented prizes to children who had done the whole thing.”
The I Love Reading project was a suggestion by parents, who are heavily involved with school life through a forum which is used to address concerns.
Abbeyfield Primary also launched a children’s charter this year – a list of things the school pledges their pupils will have completed by the time they finish in Year 6.
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For reception pupils, this includes having gone pond dipping and travelled on the train and by the end of Key Stage 1 they will have visited an art gallery and done something to benefit their community.
Mrs Abell said: “We believe in all our children being able to achieve their best and achieve their potential. What we do is work to make sure that happens.
“We have a lot of children who have English as a second language – a lot of international, new arrivals – so all of our lessons are language lessons where we promote children developing good vocabulary and good writing skills across the whole curriculum.
“This includes in topic. We have a very balanced, broad curriculum and our topics are planned to give children the best experience.
“We know that lots of children in this area don’t get a lot of wider school experiences so we plan in lots of trips and visitors to make sure that they get the best experience when they’re at school.”
Conscious about sustainability, Abbeyfield Primary also tries to be eco-friendly, taking public transport for school trips when convenient.
Mrs Abell added: “In Year 4 they travel to the Peak District so they can understand their local environment but they go by public transport to try and show them that if they want to go back in the holidays they can.”
Children also enjoy a structured PE curriculum and have a strong voice within the school to speak about issues affecting them and bring about change.
“We also have a school charter based on rights and responsibilities,” Mrs Abell said. “We’re working towards becoming a rights respecting school and our school charter was actually designed by our school council.
“Our school council is made up entirely of pupils and offers a very strong pupil voice. We also have a rights respecting council who make sure everybody in school has their rights respected – both of these are very active.
“Classes elect a school council representative and a rights respecting representative and they meet to talk about things that the children bring in.
“For example our homework strategy, we changed that following talks with the school council and parents. Now, the school council are in the middle of replanning our anti-bullying strategy.”