School Reviews: River Mead
Headteacher: Mrs Karen Austin
The school has grown in popularity, and we have seen an increase in applications for reception class places this year. There has also been an increase in ‘in-year’ admissions, both locally and moving into the area.
The implementation of cornerstones was beginning to embed just before lockdow began, and children and staff were excited by the curriculum. The breadth of learning offered ensured that engagement was high, without narrowing the curriculum. Children were challenged to present their work differently and a high standard of presentation and pupil discussion was beginning to demonstrate this. The development of the curriculum continues into 2020-21.
Our support for children with SEN throughout the school (including Nurtured learning support and support within classes) enabled a smoother running for the whole school whilst ensuring the children accessing nurtured learning provision received targeted learning. There is a clear financial cost to creating this support in terms of staffing, space and resourcing. We began to think and plan differently for all children with a SEN need including the children in the Complex Needs Resource Base (this approach continues to be developed in 2020-21) to ensure the education they are receiving is appropriate to their need. The ‘Warren’ KS1 Nurture provision supported 5 children, with a couple more joining for lunch times. ‘Dragonflies’ KS2 nurtured learning provided support for 5 children, again with several others dipping in/out as necessary, all of these children had or were awaiting an EHCP. The children received a bespoke curriculum and were successfully included in regular work with their mainstream classes.
This targeted approach reduced the number of behaviour incidents across the school.
By the end of the academic year 2019-20 5 pupils were allocated Special School Places and one child a complex Needs Resource Base placement.
SEN support and individualised learning approaches continue to be a strength of the school.
COVID-19, Lockdown and Bubble School
Following the announcement of a National Lockdown in March, River Mead remained open including during school holidays and on Bank Holidays. Children in school enjoyed active imaginative learning, with lots of outdoor activities. Children at home were provided with learning on See Saw and were supported with many practical activities that motivated them and encouraged engagement.
There were a high number of children of key workers and vulnerable children who needed to attend school. Attendance as a proportion of the whole school and of those children deemed to be vulnerable was strong compared to the national averages:
Where children were not able to attend school and had difficulty accessing remote digital learning staff provided resources and packs of learning for the children to use at home. Team working was exceptional, with staff demonstrating flexibility and dedication to our children, to ensure they were all happy, safe and fed.
Significant resource was spent on equipment needed for cleaning, handwashing and individual resources for each child. We welcomed more children back to school in June with a rainbow of arches, bubbles in the breeze, and plentiful smiles. In June one of our Tweets of the Early Years environment was retweeted by the DFE as an example of best practice.
Throughout the school year, community engagement has remained a strength with work across the school with:
- Wiltshire Air Ambulance, learning First Aid Skills.
- Engagement in the ‘Mini-police’ programme – a group of Year 5 & 6 pupils
- Support for Melksham Community Lunches with artwork, letters and visits.
- Links with Blenheim house care home both prior to and during lockdown.
- Engagement with the local council in the development of King George V Park sensory garden.
Engagement in local activities including:
- The River festival raft race.
- Celebrating 800th anniversary of the Royal Charter.
- The annual Remembrance service parade.
Anti-Bullying All Together Now Award
The Anti-Bullying Alliance recognised all the work the school has done on the All Together programme, and felt that we had done such a great job of reducing bullying they awarded us the All Together School SILVER status.