Jackie Waters-Dewhurst, CEO of Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust (LAAT) explains how plans to transform two of its schools in Grantham into primaries will bring benefits for local families and their communities.
Following a period of consultation, LAAT’s Harrowby Church of England Infant School has been given the go-ahead to transition into a single form primary school, while the Trust’s National Junior School, also in Grantham, will change into a 1.5 form entry primary. Also included in the consultation, the town’s Little Gonerby Infant School, a member of Infinity Academies Trust, will make the transition to a primary academy at the same time. Despite being part of different Trusts the three schools have always worked closely together and we believe this change will facilitate even closer ties, whilst also providing more choice for parents and their children.
Alongside these exciting changes the National will be renamed St Wulfram’s National Church of England Primary School. This is to reflect the school’s close links with the local St Wulfram’s church (whilst still retaining the historically important name of National) and the start of this new chapter as a primary school.
Currently, pupils at the infant schools must apply for a place at the junior school and then transition from one school to another. Under the proposed changes, pupils would not need to change schools and would benefit from a seamless transition from Reception through the Key Stages up to Year 6 in the same school. This would allow pupils and parents to build a long-term relationship with the school over a 7-year period ensuring that school and home links are strong and consistent for the benefit of all.
Spending the whole primary phase in one school enables pupils to receive a curriculum provision that builds on prior knowledge year on year right through their time in primary education. This will enable pupils to know more and remember more as they progress through their curriculum journey. They will also benefit from the familiarity with school systems, the approaches to teaching and learning, consistent expectations around behaviour and relationships with staff. If any children have additional needs, then working with the same school and SENDCo builds a shared approach and an agreed direction for the required support that doesn’t need to be interrupted with a change of school during the primary years.
As a further benefit, the change will mean that parents and their children can attend school events as a family, regardless of year group, and the challenges of having children at different schools and trying to manage different drop off and collection times will be removed.
As part of our commitment to this transition, LAAT is investing well in excess of half a million pounds in making sure that Harrowby and St Wulfram’s National are not only fit for 21st century education, but also fit for the whole age range of primary students. Building work at each school will be phased to ensure facilities are ready for each new year group. Classes will be opening for their new year groups from September 2023.
The scope of works across both schools includes some new build facilities as well as internal alterations to existing space to create the appropriate size and number of classrooms and toilets for the new age ranges. At Harrowby, for example, while existing Early Years provision with a dedicated classroom, toilets and play area will remain, a new building incorporating a classroom and toilets will be built on the existing staff car park to accommodate Year 6 pupils. A new parking area for staff will be created at the front of the building.
At St Wulfram’s National there will be a remodelling to create dedicated Early Years provision with a classroom and toilets and some of the existing toilets will be converted into infant toilets for use by Year 1 and 2 pupils. There will also be some changes to cloakrooms and the layout of the school’s existing entrance/reception will be improved. Externally, demolition of a temporary classroom and concrete store will free up space for a new dedicated Early Years play area.
Pupils, parents and staff can be assured that contractors and the schools will work together to ensure any disruption during these works is kept to a minimum and does not have an impact on pupils’ day-to-day schooling. Wherever possible, work will be scheduled during the holidays.
We are delighted that Gareth Smith will continue in his role as Executive Headteacher of Harrowby and St Wulfram’s National. As a previous student at both Harrowby and what was then the National, Gareth shares a long history with these schools and the local community. This is a truly inspirational story of a boy leaving his home town to learn his craft and then returning to his roots to become one of the most experienced headteachers within our Trust. I know he is really looking forward to being instrumental in the amazing transformation that this change will make for current and prospective pupils and their families.
With plans for the transition already well under way admissions for the new age groups have now opened and will close in January, ahead of the proposed September 2023 start. These exciting changes reflect LAAT’s passion for the communities in which we operate and our commitment to transforming lives by creating schools that meet pupils’ needs now and into the future. We believe that being able to make this important investment in a better future for our children is what being part of a multi-academy trust like LAAT is all about.