Abbotskerswell Primary School
Dear Parents and Visitors,
We are a small school at the heart of the village community where we have strong links and long-standing relationships going back to 1875 when the school was originally built. Log books trace the story of school life in some detail, from 1875 until 1998 providing further intriguing insights into the past. For example, in 1888 there was an outbreak of measles which reduced the number of children from 57 to 16 resulting in “The timetable has been disregarded.”
The Education Committee for Devon County once created a Punishment Book for the school which is full of fascinating snippets. For example, on 20th June 1916, Harry Cowell received “one cut on hand” for “talking” and Phoebe Roberts got the same punishment for “inattention”. On 21st September 1923, Joseph Coombe was caned with a small stick for “continual idleness and noisiness in class”.
It is also interesting to note that inspections and HMIs (Her Majesty’s Inspectors) have been around for a long time. On July 14th 1879, Edward Burrows (HMI) inspected the school and was unhappy because there was “no evidence whatsoever that the Board [of Governors] pay visits of supervision or encouragement to the school.” Things had clearly picked up by 1926 when the Reverend Hall inspected on 15th July and reported that “The junior class has made conspicuous progress during the past year.” (Well done to Miss Hull who was teaching that class back then.) Then by 22nd July 1942, the school was clearly flying as the inspector, Miss Savage, commented “it was evident that the teaching had been given with great care” and that “there was a joyful note in the singing of hymns”. (Congratulations to Miss Willott who was teaching Infants I, Mr Cocks who was teaching Juniors I and G.A. Hull who was teaching Juniors II.)
You will find that many of the current children’s parents, and some of the staff, used to attend the school when they were younger and in our entrance foyer you can find trophies engraved with some of their names, going back to 1973.
Children are currently taught in three mixed-age classes. Puffin Class, including children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 is taught by Mr Lawrence. Swift Class, including Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4 is taught by Mrs Gill. Kingfisher Class, including Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 is taught by Mrs Williams and Miss Walsh.
In January 2013, the children were divided into four houses (Priory House, St Mary’s House, Carsewell House and Henley House), chosen by the Student Council to reinforce our links with the local community. These houses are used to foster a sense of team work and healthy competition which support our positive behaviour policy (we decided not to maintain The Punishment Book). The children earn points for themselves and their house which translate into exciting trips, extra activities chosen by themselves and even vouchers provided by our excellent PTFA.
Pupils at the school have a history of achieving well. Attainment at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 has almost always been higher than the average for other schools; sometimes significantly so. A slight dip in 2012 has been rectified and results in 2013 and 2014 show that we are once again performing above the average, and in an upwards trend.
As well as providing children with the best possible start for their secondary school journey, we also provide an excellent start to school life in the early years. Our five year olds made super progress in 2013-2014 and we expect this trend to continue.
The school has always provided a large range of extra activities and enrichment to the curriculum. For example, visiting specialists have taught various areas such as Lego Robotics, Handball and engaging Maths activities to stimulate thinking. The school council has visited the Houses of Parliament to support their work in improving the local Newton Abbot area. Adventurous types have participated in the Exmoor Challenge and others have taken part in Science, Creative Writing, Maths Challenges and the record breaking sign to sing.
The oldest children (those in Year 6) work hard in their final year to leave a positive legacy at the school. To facilitate this, they work on a Year 6 Leavers Award that includes a range of categories – Wider Community, School Community, Academic, Environment, Adventure / Personal Challenge, Legacy and Creative. Within these areas, the children earn points for different activities and at the end receive either a gold, silver or bronze award complete with a special leavers’ book of memories and photos.
The school has a strong tradition of performing arts with innovative music performance, choir singing and fully fledged amateur shows. In July 2014 the school staged a ‘Letter to the Trenches’ for the village community. As well as live acting, it cleverly interspersed a professional film produced, directed and acted in by the older children as part of their literacy work. The anti-war themes resonated strongly with visitors, many of whom were moved to tears by the show.
With the introduction of the new curriculum in September 2014, we are looking to extend this enrichment even further. For example, in line with our September learning theme of ‘Respect’ children will be visiting the Exeter Mosque to help them understand modern Britain. Our curriculum also looks to take advantage of contemporary events such as the Scottish referendum when the children’s learning across a range of subjects was based on an internal referendum about whether classes should break away from the whole school and go it alone.
We believe in providing an education that is fit for this present day world. We want to foster the values of responsibility and respect. Our curriculum outlines this in more detail and you can read more about it under our ‘curriculum’ section on the website.
There are a variety of creative, academic and sporting clubs that the children can also access. These include multi-skills, football, chess, cooking and gardening. Competitions are also on offer – some that run between houses (such as an Apprentice Challenge to see who can come up with the best business and termly sporting events) and some that run between other small schools such as football, netball and chess.
In PE this year we are focussing on strengthening the quality of provision and increasing participation. In addition to the competitions mentioned above there will be a wide range of festivals taking place across the Newton Abbot schools as well as other competitions. Last year we had some significant successes even against the biggest schools – for example, our golfers made it through to the Devon finals.
Governors play a significant role in the success of the school. They bring important areas of expertise that helps to challenge and support us on our continuing journey. Our Chair of Governors, Catherine Denning, tells you more in the ‘Governors’ section on the website.
We are also supported by an excellent and very active PTFA who raise a lot of money for the school. Clair Tucker is the Chair of the PTFA and you can find out more about their work on the website.
We are very lucky to have a talented group of teachers and support staff who are motivated and like to make things happen. You can find out more detail about the staff by downloading our ‘Staffing Structure’ from the website.
This is a happy place to be able to work and learn. If you would like more information or to have a look around, please feel free to make an appointment with the office.
Mr Tim Hughes
Headteacher September 2014