Thursday, 23 November 2017

Pupils encouraged to mix more with the community

THE new headteacher of Peppard Primary School says he wants the children to engage with the community.

THE new headteacher of Peppard Primary School says he wants the children to engage with the community.

Nick Steele, 46, took over from interim head Amanda Rogers in September and has already set up a number of projects that will encourage the school’s 91 pupils to interact with residents.

The school choir sang at the Abbeycrest care home in Sonning Common and collected food for a harvest festival in Springwater Church. It will also perform at the Henley Christmas Festival.

The school has also had visitors from the local community, such as members of All Saints’ Church, coming in to talk to pupils about subjects they are studying.

Mr Steele said: “It’s a fantastic community and our vision is to engage with it in a big way. We’ve had a big push to get the community into the school and vice-versa. I’ve set teachers targets to have people in and to get the class out on a regular basis.

“There’s a danger with a school this size in a rural position that we could become isolated, so to prevent that we want to get out into the real world.

“My aim is that we provide the best opportunities and experiences to prepare the children for life.”

Mr Steele, who has been teaching for about 15 years, said staff had embraced his vision and were keen to take the school forward. He also held a meeting with parents to set out his plans for the school and at an open day he asked about 12 parents to show prospective parents around.

Mr Steele said: “I can sing the praises of this school but the best advert is to have parents saying, ‘we’ve got three children here and we’re ever so happy because the school does things that no other schools around here do’.”

The school has hired a minibus from Stoke Row primary and pupils now receive professional gymnastics training at Thames Valley Gym.

Mr Steele also wants to develop competitive sport at the school. The football team has a new black-and-red-striped kit, which was designed by pupils, and a cross-country team which competes with other primaries. He said Peppard common was a vital amenity for the children at his school.

“At the end of the day I often see half the school population playing on the common,” he said. “That gives such a community and family feel, which I don’t think any other school could because they don’t have that kind of facility on their doorstep.”

Mr Steele is married to Katie, a part-time office assistant at Sonning Common Primary School, where their two children, Scarlett, eight, and Annabel, six, are pupils. The family lives in Caversham.

Governors want the school to be moved from Church Lane to a purpose-built complex next to the B481 to the north of Peppard Common.Planning permission was granted 18 months ago but in April it was revealed the building had been delayed due to funding issues.

Oxfordshire County Council says it can’t afford to pay for the new school and the governors have been urged to seek funding elsewhere.

In September, David Bartholomew, who represents the Sonning Common ward on the county council, said if a large part of the cost could be sourced then the county council could fund the rest of the project.

The school has a new website that provides weekly updates for parents and will have a page for each class. For more information, visit www.peppardprimary.co.uk

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