Meanwood Church of England Primary School in Leeds has been named as the Sunday Times State Primary School of the Year.
Head teacher Helen Sanderson says, “We’re just bowled over by the news - that’s out of 20,000 schools in the country.”
The school's SATS results and Ofsted reports have been exemplary, and Helen thinks that there are many reasons for their success. She says, “We have some particularly young and enthusiastic staff who have amazing stamina and are keen to learn from outstanding practitioners. We have high aspirations for everyone and I think our communication is also really good; everyone works closely together.
“But above all we put the children first. I think it’s all too easy for them to get lost in the system, so we make sure they play an active part in their own learning. So for example in planning the curriculum we might say, ‘What do you want to learn about the Romans? What do you know already? Where do you want to take your learning to?”.
Many arrive at the school with below average skills, yet in the key stage 2 tests in 2014, 96% achieved level 5 or more in maths and 100% in reading.
The school has a broad socio-economic mix and Ofsted inspectors praised as outstanding the achievement of pupils from low-income households, those who are disabled, those with special education needs and those from minority ethnic groups. They were also impressed by the very close checks made on individuals’ progress and the fact that learning is made fun.
Six year old Isla says, “When I come into school I want to jump because there are so many happy butterflies in my tummy”.
Helen says that they also have “a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship with our parish church, Holy Trinity”.
Bishop Nick says, "This is fantastic news for Meanwood school. Church of England schools do consistently well, and rather than being exclusive or divisive, they're open to all and serve the communities in which they're set. Meanwood Primary is a great example, and the Christian ethos of valuing every child is very evident."
According to last year's league tables from the Department for Education, six of the top ten performing schools and over half of the top 100 performing schools are Church of England primary schools.