After teaching at Pathways in Sheffield for 14 years, Elizabeth Long, knows the pupils and their families well, which is why she was so delighted to become the primary school’s headteacher.
She spoke to the Star to share what makes the school so special for her and to set out her vision for the future.
“Children always amaze me,” she said. “Our children are very special and we encourage every child to be unique and celebrate their talents and wellbeing.”
Mrs Long has over 20 years’ experience as a teacher, both in Stafford and Sheffield, but started working in the Longley community in 2008 as year six class teacher.
“After my first year, I was hooked and have a strong connection with this school which holds lots of memories,” she said. “After becoming the Assistant Headteacher in 2010, I worked across all year groups and was here when we joined the E-ACT trust and became E-ACT Pathways. I became Deputy Headteacher in 2019, a week before going into lockdown which held its own unique challenges – and it is a huge honour to now be appointed Headteacher.”
One of the things she loves is the connection with the community, and building up those relationships over the years.
“Over the years, I have taught lots of families of children here, which helped to keep in touch when they needed our support during recent remote learning,” she said. “We have strong connections with those families and I am really looking forward to building positive relationships with all stakeholders as the Pathways team creates a supportive, innovative and inclusive school community together.”
Come and see for yourself
Prospective parents, guardians and pupils are warmly welcomed to visit the school to have a look for themselves. And you can find out more via their website.
Pathways to the future
There are over 400 pupils at the school, who Ms Long sees every day.
“The best parts of my day are assemblies, playtimes and when I see pupils learning or speak with them at lunch times. All Pathways children are special and amaze me every day with their learning and personalities,” she said. “We embrace team spirit and I have a dedicated staff for the benefit of all our pupils. We support the whole child and families with excellent pastoral care to enable children to learn.”
“Knowledge is power” and with that in mind the school teaches the core curriculum principles to develop vocabulary, curiosity, connectivity and community.
But it’s not just about the curriculum. The school has a varied and exciting range of subjects which enrich pupil’s experiences. For example it provides wellbeing workshops for every child including yoga, dance, circus skills, Caribbean drumming, Indian dance, after-school clubs including basketball, netball, tag rugby and football, as well as art, the choir, reading, STEM, photography and homework.
And there are community events – such as coffee mornings for parents, Jubilee celebration days, the academy chef working with students to make smoothies (using a smoothie bike) and work with the school on healthy eating and Greek food projects. We have had a variety of artists work with children on art projects throughout the year.
And there’s the chance to explore the world outside the school gates – with Egyptian, Viking and mad scientist workshops, Victorian and Greek days, a sailing trip to the Isle of Wight and visits to the Weston Museum, Cannon Hall farm and Magna Science Adventure Centre. Staff have worked incredibly hard to plan these experiences and get them back on the calendar.
The school had a recent focus on careers last month and we welcomed nurses from the Northern General Hospital, as well as an inventor and influencer, the CEO of digital company Paper and a ‘dress as your future’ day. “This supports our work on aspirations which is planned throughout school.”
“I truly believe that excellence within teaching, together with excellent attendance and a rich, inspiring and engaging curriculum tailored to the needs and interests of our children supports the best they can be. Placing well being at the centre to our work so that everyone learns in a safe, supported, nurturing environment where they can feel confident, worthy and valued.
“We are establishing a team of educational professionals who work relentlessly and go above and beyond for our children. My staff are committed to our children, with both their energy and passion,” said Ms Long, who is committed to building a staff group who love coming to work.”
From September the school will have a new Deputy Headteacher Jack Merrick, who will lead the pastoral team and bring expertise in science and maths, as well as in coaching and working with newly qualified teachers.
Being part of the school – whether as a teacher or support worker – means being part of a team – and that goes for the pupils too.
“I have worked hard this year to develop pupils’ team spirit by being part of our Pathways team – dressed in purple uniform and supporting each other,” said Ms Long. “I want to grow our children to be lifelong learners as we develop our 4R learning behaviours of respect, resourcefulness, resilience and reciprocity.
“We have established a calm, orderly and nurturing ethos which is often commented on by visitors.”
Providing stability and reassurance to all parents and staff is also important. “We are very keen to work with parents to support attendance and learning, and we are creating and developing a reading culture which has been supported by Sheffield reading volunteers,” she said. “We aim to be the beating heart of the community.”
Early learning expansion
Pathways boasts a number of facilities including an immersive classroom, art room, computing room (as well as classroom sets of devices), a bright and comfortable library, cosy reading rooms, wellbeing hub, sports hall and outdoor learning spaces for forestry, PE and playtimes.
Links with E-ACT Parkwood, means they can use its facilities such as the main hall, minibus and kitchens, and work closely with its teachers.
The school is also expanding its pre-school provision. As well as offering morning and afternoon sessions, it plans to introduce more flexible two-and-a-half-day arrangements from September 2022, with up to 26 children in each session.
“As a mother of a six-year-old, I know and understand how important early learning is for a solid foundation on which to build a child’s continued education,” said Ms Long. “We have a fabulous team who ensure that our school is safe, creating an inviting and attractive environment.”
And, as one of E-ACT’s 28 academies, the school benefits by sharing ideas and getting support from the trust which makes life even better for its children. The Academy has strong links with local secondary E-ACT Parkwood Academy, who share resources and expertise to enhance the learning of Pathways’ pupils.
You can get in touch or visit their website for more information at https://pathwaysacademy.e-act.org.uk