Laura joined Mossbourne Parkside Academy in 2020 as Vice Principal. There were no published results from that academic year, as it was midst the COVID pandemic, which meant the schools last results were from 2019. These showed that only 42% of their pupils met the expected standard in Year 6 for reading, writing and maths – the national average for this year was 66%.
She went into the academy with drive and the determination to turn the school around as it had never performed as well as it should have since conception. It had never met the Ofsted criteria for good. In April 2021, she stepped up as Head of School and the first thing she introduced was the ‘teaching and learning policy’ which was a rubric that codified the quality of teaching and learning and provided a framework for consistency in teaching across the academy.
“One thing that I completely underestimated was the importance of changing the culture. It’s so important to ensure that everyone is on that bus with you, driving it forwards through some very tough times!
The first thing I had to do as a leader was to really reflect on what my values were and my vision for the academy was. I knew I wanted the best for our pupils, but to be able to articulate a vision and explain why those values will get us to achieving that vision took time. And then, I had to work to ensure our team were able to buy into those values and join us on that journey to achieving our goal.
In stepping up in a school where staff had historically had turbulent leadership, I wanted them to be able to build their trust in me and I wanted them to really know what the values were that I stood for. This was shown through the development of ‘Parkside PRIDE’ which is a set of values that all of our pupils and staff try to embody at all times in the academy:
These sit alongside the Mossbourne Federation values of excellence, no excuses and unity, but it was important for us to develop values specific to our school, and just as importantly, pride itself within the Parkside community as being told you’re constantly underperforming takes its toll.
We also developed our curriculum, collaborated and built strong relationships with our sister academy, Mossbourne Riverside, to see where we could learn best practice from them, whilst at the same time championing great practices within our own school.”
Identifying pockets of excellence
Mossbourne Parkside Academy received a ‘Good’ inspection rating in 2021.
“We had a Requires Improvement Ofsted rating when I took on this role, but that doesn’t mean to say there weren’t pockets of excellence within the academy, and it’s important to recognise that in schools that are struggling.
I could see from the ProgressTeaching platform that we use that there was great work being done! For example, one of my teachers was fantastic at scaffolding Maths for the SEND pupils, so I asked them to share that practice with others and impact started to be made.
From looking at the data in ProgressTeaching, my leadership team and I were able to create a personalised CPD calendar which highlighted where the biggest priorities for our staff were. It was a time to analyse, reflect, and adapt so that we could have the foundations in place drive our school forward.”
Continuing to achieve their vision
“We had Ofsted in October 2021 which was a fantastic recognition of all the hard work that had gone into the academy by our brilliant team! It was a great achievement for the community to see the school succeed, and it was a special moment – particularly for the teachers that have shown such dedication to the school over the years. Being able to say to parents on the gate that the quality of education that their children were getting was finally good, was a moment I’ll cherish.
But the fun has only just begun! We’re more committed than ever to achieving our vision and we’ve continued to drive the academy forward – the results from 2022 speak for themselves. In 2019, our Phonics pass rate in Year 1 was 83%. This academic year, it was 94%. Our KS2 results were 8% higher than the combined national average this year, with 36% of pupils achieving greater depth in reading and 25% of pupils scoring greater depth in maths. A phenomenal success for our pupils and a great pleasure to be able to say our pupils were prepared for their secondary education.
For us, our next steps are to build on the fantastic outcomes we’ve had and to continue to think about how we can keep on improving our practice further to drive us towards exceptional.”