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How Doncaster primary school is turning around under new trust

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It's been a year of change - and headteacher Laura Carr reckons it is making for a better school in Hooton Pagnell.

Hooton Pagnell All Saints Primary School, on Clayton Lane, started 2017 as a school rated by Ofsted as good, and in local authority control.

Class Three children pictured working on Comprehension. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP SchoolFocus-HootonAllSaints MC 6 'Picture: Marie Caley

Class Three children pictured working on Comprehension. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP SchoolFocus-HootonAllSaints MC 6 'Picture: Marie Caley

But now, the school is in the process of transforming itself after being told by inspectors in the middle of January 2017 that it required improvement.

Last June, Mrs Carr was appointed as the school's new headteacher. And just a few months ago, the school was taken over by the James Montgomery Acadmy Trust, an organisation based in Wath, with a number of South Yorkshire Schools on its list.

The improvements the school was asked to make revolved around quality of teaching, and progress in reading and writing. There were also strengths, and the pupils' attitude to learning was described as a credit to the school.

But after a year in the job, Mrs Carr reckons things are getting better for the school.

The trust which now runs the school provides support from much bigger schools than Hooton Pagnell, which has only 84 pupils.

There have already been improvements to the school building, and some of the issues highlighted by Ofsted are already in hand.

The first thing was th make sure everyone was in the right mindset to feel that the school could make the improvements it needed to bring in.

"There were some easy fixes, and we brought them in really quickly," said Mrs Carr. "We made the action plans, and got the views of the teachers and the parents. Ofsted had said that handwriting needed improving, so we put handwriting schemes in.

"More difficult things were around the building. The school was built in 1969 and was neglected. We had a fair amount of work done in the summer, but budgets don't allow for everything to be done at once."

Two of the classrooms were refurbished. And alterations were made to the hall, with a dividing well put inside to create a library using what was previously unused space. That library had now been filled with new books.

There have also been new interactive white boards brought in to replace ageing ones that were previously used, and new computers for children to use in the classrooms.

Changes have also been made to the school day. While pupils were previously in lessons until 3.40pm, they now finish at 3pm. The idea is that they will be less tired.

And the changes have opened the door to a rage of after school clubs at Hooton Pagnell including cookery, yoga, arts and crafts, sports clubs, choir, robotics and performing arts.

"The children have adapted really well," said Mrs Carr. "They have embraced the changes wholeheartedly ."

And there are more changes to come. Next year, the school is looking to bring in a new system which will see a topic brought in each term to influence what is taught. For instance, there are plans to use the novel Fox as a topic, with the whole school's learning themed around that, but with older pupils looking at different work to the younger ones.

And there also more changes afoot in the school environment.

There are to be changes to make the playgrounds and playing fields easier for youngsters to use all year round. The idea is to make them more appealing in winter, so children can play outdoors and run around when there has been wet weather.

Part of the Key Stage one area, which currently becomes muddy in the winter, will be changed to artificial turf. There will still be grass, as the school has large playing fields. There will also be a sensory path created.

And on top of that, there are plans for a golf course and a climbing wall.

"We have a big field which is a real asset," said Mrs Carr. "We want to encourage our children to participate in outdoor play. I think we have a really special outdoor space already, and this will make even better.

"We already have outdoor play equipment like chain bridges, slides, an outdoor classroom. We are making the outdoor activities available all through the winter too."

Plans are also in the pipeline for a new roof for the building.

Mrs Carr is optimistic that things are improving and is looking forward to seeing the SATS results after pupils completed the exams this summer.

Technology

Youngsters from Hooton Pagnell are pretty good when it comes to tecnhology - but weather dashed their hopes of winning a prize in the field.

The school entered the VEX IQ competition to build and programme a robot, and won a place in the competition's final in Birmingham in March.

But after winning though the regional heat, the youngsters were unable to take part in the final because a thick snowfall prevented them from getting to Birmingham to take part in the final.

"The children were disappointed, but delighted to have qualified in the first place," said Mrs Carr.

Parents involved

Parents are set to get more involved in the classroom at Hooton Pagnell.

The school is looking to invite parents and carers into the lessons to work with the children in future, to take part in learning along side their youngsters.

Some such work has already been introduced, but there are plans for more in the future.

Class three pupils took part in a scrapheap challenge to make their own robot, after reading the book Iron Man. Parents are carers were invited in to make the robots with them.