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'Focused approach to learning' turns round struggling school

PUBLISHED: 16:46 04 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:11 05 April 2016

St Mary Cray Primary Academy was rated good in a Challenge Partners inspection

St Mary Cray Primary Academy was rated good in a Challenge Partners inspection

Archant

St Mary Cray Primary Academy has improved dramatically over the past 18 months

A focused approach to learning has helped to transform the fortunes of a struggling school in Bromley, according to its headteacher.

St Mary Cray Primary School was deemed to require improvement in 2013’s Ofsted report, facing substantial problems with children’s achievement and the quality of teaching.

The last 18 months have seen a dramatic improvement, however, and the new school, St Mary Cray Primary Academy, is now rated as ‘good’, according to an independent Challenge Partners review.

Adam Lowing, who became headteacher 18 months ago, told the Bromley Times: “The first thing we did was to focus on teaching and learning.

“We adopted an approach which understands exactly what children can and can’t do and involves teaching in a very focused way to help accelerate their progress in key areas.

“The school had been through some hard times and there had been a gap in leadership, and there was some staff turnover. So recruiting was a problem, but since then we have been a very stable workforce.”

As a result of the changes, pupils achieved the school’s best ever set of SATS results, which were above the national average at key stage 2.

The Challenge Partners review - which was led by an Ofsted inspector - commented on how the children at the school were benefiting from the new approach.

“The inspector commented on how articulate and creative our children were. They have gained in confidence and resilience,” Mr Lowing explained.

St Mary Cray is now part of an academy chain sponsored by Hayes Primary School, and the head added that this has helped the school to make improvements.

“It has helped in terms of sharing best practice and sharing ideas, and it has worked both ways,” he explained. “It has been a really rich working experience.

We intend to improve even further, and it is a good place for the adults and, most of all, the children at the moment.”

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