With the permanent appointment of Miss Lindsay Gabriel as Head of Wellesley Park Primary School, staff, pupils and parents can feel reassured that evidence of change, apparent since January, can be maintained and accelerated. Having been appointed as Interim Head in January following the retirement of headteacher, Maureen Crofton, Miss Gabriel took up her permanent post in March after a national recruitment process. She was commended by Governors for her ‘experience, professionalism and unlimited enthusiasm’.
The Ofsted inspection in October last year had judged the school as ‘inadequate’ in its overall effectiveness, requiring improvement in the inspection’s four key areas – achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management.
In an interview this week, Miss Gabriel paid particular tribute to her staff: “Morale is extremely high. Teachers here have good skills and have responded positively to changes in the leadership team and to the clearer definition of their roles and responsibilities. Two new interim deputies have been appointed with separate responsibilities for teaching and learning and assessment. The school has a post-Ofsted plan and we are working towards addressing all the key issues in the report. The staff here are fantastic. We have introduced robust development programmes for all teaching staff and they are all contributing positively to refinements in the action plan.”
Earlier this month, prior to Miss Gabriel’s permanent appointment, an Ofsted monitoring inspection report acknowledged the progress already made this year: “The interim headteacher and her senior managers are enthusistic and focused on improving performance. They have made a very positive start and are clear about the actions which need to be taken to increase the pace of change and bring about sustainable development. Decisive action has been taken by senior leaders to improve the quality of teaching.”
To raise the levels of pupils’ achievement Miss Gabriel has made timetabling changes, is promoting curriculum innovations to “bring learning alive”, is accelerating a phonics programme to enhance literacy skills and has brought in literacy and numeracy consultants to the school to advise on best practice. Pupil progress meetings are held every half term and data on pupil and group performance is now more readily available.
Detailing the process of communication with parents, Miss Gabriel said, “We have weekly newsletters which include diary dates, use email and website information and have introduced a ‘parent voice’. We’re even doing twitter! We’ve had very positive feedback on these initiatives. The PTA plays an active role and all the senior leadership team are involved. Parents have been really supportive.”
With plans for more school clubs, staff minibus training so that pupils can take more trips out of school, work with the prefects and support for charities – such as a Wellesley Park’s Got Talent’ day for cancer research – the school is moving in a number of new directions. Miss Gabriel also referred to plans for an “Eco-Committee working towards starting Forest Schools’ provision using the wonderful school grounds”.
It is expected that Wellesley Park will embrace academy status after Easter. The Ofsted monitoring report states: “The local authority in partnership with the Department for Education has secured a sponsored academy solution with the Collaborative Academies Trust to support the school in moving forward and securing sustainable improvement.”