Friday, 17 November 2017

Children attend blessing of jubilee tree

THE headteacher of Wargrave’s secondary school has tried to reassure parents about their children’s education as she prepares to launch

THE headteacher of Wargrave’s secondary school has tried to reassure parents about their children’s education as she prepares to launch a primary school in Charvil.

Sixteen parents attended a meeting at the Piggott School last week which included a presentation about the project followed by a question-and-answer session.

The new school, which will be funded by Wokingham Borough Council, will open in September on the East Park Farm site and will initially cater for 30 reception pupils.

Piggott headteacher Hilary Winter said: “We know exactly what we are taking on and that is a lot of hard work but we are doing it with this school’s best interests in mind. This is my first love and I am passionate about what is going on in this school. I want it to be the best it can be.”

She said the new school was an opportunity for Piggott teachers to broaden their experience. “I think knowing the way your subject is taught at primary level makes you a much better teacher in secondary school and I think we can really learn from this project,” said Ms Winter.

“We do have a lot of staff that have had some outreach experience but I want all the staff to know what primary teaching is about and that will happen increasingly.”

Parent Diana Laverty said: “I do not see what the benefits are to students... how can it not affect them if the primary school is the focus?”

Ms Winter replied: “I think it will benefit them if staff become better teachers. This project is taking time but I do not think it is taking time away from this job. We are making sure that all the other things are being done as well.”

Ms Laverty responded: “That is time you should be spending improving the education of children here, especially after last year’s dip in GCSE results, but you are spending it at a neighbouring site.

“This is also the first time that parents have been told that this is what is happening and I do not feel we are being consulted. Is this a case of being a jack of all trades and master of none? Your focus on the secondary school is being diluted and it cannot be good for the current students.”

Deputy headteacher Kevin Harley replied: “With regard to the GCSEs, we have been put under the microscope over what we do. We have been aware for quite some time that maybe we need to focus a lot more on literacy skills and we have introduced two schemes to improve that significantly.

“We have also put in place a lot more support for better outcomes at GCSE. We are very aware that we cannot ignore our current community and our governors are not going to let us do that.”

Fellow deputy head Maggie Urwin said: “Every single member of staff that teaches here is totally focused on their teaching and so far this project has only impacted on senior management.”

Ms Winter confirmed that the new school would be an extension of Piggott, adding: “We will change our current school age range with regard to admissions, from 11-18 to 4-18, so that Piggott is seen as one school but operating on a split site.

“This is a school for Charvil but it is part of Piggott Academy Trust, so we would call it something like Charvil Piggott Primary School or Piggott Charvil Primary School.

“My idea would be to keep the same logo as we have now but with Charvil written round the bottom and I think the uniform should be royal blue. The current area from which pupils are taken will be the same for the new school as it is for the existing school.

“It will take us seven years to fill the school and we will have been through two Ofsted inspections by then. In seven years I would expect it to have its own head and I would like there to be other things going on at the site, such as it being used by the community. I want it to be successful and be proud of itself.”

Ms Winter said she hoped that pupils from the primary would naturally progress to the secondary school.

“We are going to be the beneficiaries if and when they come up to our school so it is imperative to get it right,” she said. “I think our school’s vision applies just as readily in a primary setting as it does in a secondary setting.”

The primary will have one full-time teacher at assistant head level and another part-time member of staff as well as teaching assistants and administration staff.

Ms Winter said: “We will be a presence down there because the parents have to have that confidence. It will not affect the pupils here. There are going to be enough people to make sure this school doesn’t curl at the edges.”

For more information, visit www.piggott.wokingham.sch.uk

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