School Reviews: The Mead
Headteacher: Mr Mark Stenton
We welcomed an Inspection Team in November 2019 and were delighted that the they recognised how well behaved our children are, and the way they engage with the world; being ‘articulate and well mannered’, showing respect for others and working hard. Ofsted recognised that reading sits front and centre of the school’s work and that our children gain a strong appreciation of the arts, including music, and enjoy wide-ranging sporting activities and clubs.
The Inspection team found that we are giving children the very best start, with provision in our reception and nursery classes identified as a strength of the school. The support we give children with Special Educational Needs helps them do well.
Although Ofsted only see a snapshot of our school life, the rigorous new inspection framework validated our self-evaluation as good, and provided some clear guidance on how we can continue to improve.
The areas for development identified were:
- Providing time for children to practise and deepen their writing skills over time and helping them to use and apply more complex sentences.
- Further development of the curriculum to ensure that children learn well across a wide range of subjects – particularly in history and science.
- Ensuring that teachers are using their assessments to plan for pupils’ onward learning.
COVID-19, Lockdown and Bubble School
Following the announcement of a National Lockdown in March, The Mead remained open including during school holidays and on Bank Holidays too, as there were a high number of children of key workers who needed to attend school. We also identified children who were vulnerable and worked hard to ensure they also were attending school. Attendance as a proportion of the whole school and of those children deemed to be vulnerable was strong compared to the national averages:
Staff worked on a rota basis in colour teams for the 10 weeks of Lockdown before wider opening at the beginning of June. At that time, we opened 8 part-time bubbles (of 15) for children in Nursery and Reception at both sites and Year 6 at Wingfield. We also had 5 full Key worker bubbles (of 15 children) who accessed school full time, 2 of which accessed wrap around care from 7:45-6pm. Offices were transformed into staff restrooms and Bubble School began with staff allocated to each bubble and not coming into contact with others.
Significant resource was spent on equipment needed for cleaning, handwashing and individual resources for each child. In June one of our Tweets of our reception classes was retweeted by the DFE as an example of best practice.
In July we opened another full time Key worker bubble of 8 children and welcomed Year 6 back for 1 day per week in 5 separate bubbles.
Whilst our other children were at home we provided amazing learning opportunities for them using Seesaw as a digital platform. We also sent messages home and made videos to make them smile and ensure that they know that we were thinking of them.
At the end of the school year we received a letter from the County Commander of the South Western Ambulance service thanking us for the work we had done to enable key workers to attend work consistently throughout Lockdown:
I am writing to thank you and your team for the excellent care that you have provided the chidlren of key workers during this period of school closure.
In particular, both Oli and Jenny Bourton wanted to convey their thanks for the excellent care and support that your team have provided their chidlren over the last 3 months. This has been unwavering and gone beyond their expectations. This has undoubtedly meant that they have been acle to concentrate on their roles within the local community as frontline paramedics and ultimately save lives.
The continuous nature of the provision across the whole school week and also every school holiday is exemplary, and I recognise not achieved elsewhere. It is also clear that the emphasis has been on the children’s wellbeing and supporting them at a time of great uncertainty and this has been greatly appreciated.
Wiltshire Music Education Awards
The first ever Wiltshire Music Education Awards were launched this year by Wiltshire Music Connect. The awards are designed to celebrate people and schools in the county who dedicate themselves to creating outstanding music education for children and young people. Even though Covid-19 caused restrictions and school closures, young people, schools, and music teachers in Wiltshire have been working hard to keep music going. They’ve converted to online music lessons, provided musical activities and instruments to use at home, and continued music in schools for children of key workers. So Wiltshire Music Connect decided to go ahead with the awards as part of their #DontDropMusicCampaign – as there was no better time to recognise and celebrate the power of music!
Nominations for people and schools who have made an impact on musical learning were invited from young people, teachers, schools, parents and organisations in five categories. Over 150 nominations were received, and the panel had a difficult job deciding who was most deserving – all the nominees are inspirational and dedicated. Sandra Dixon (long-serving music specialist teacher at The Mead) was winner of the Wiltshire Primary School Music Teacher of the year 2020 category.
Sandra, who retired from teaching in the summer, has provided vast numbers of children with high quality and wide ranging, rich experiences: an inspirational and progressive music curriculum, numerous workshops with professional musicians, individual instrumental tuition, ensemble groups, parent workshops and opportunities to perform in inspirational spaces.
I feel honoured and privileged to receive this award from Wiltshire Music Connect. The Mead School values music highly and this has allowed me to nurture children’s love for music, see them grow into talented musicians and watch them have confidence to perform together. This has given me so much joy and it is wonderful to have this recognition of my teaching as I retire from the front-line classroom. I am also incredibly grateful for the support we have received as a school from the local music hub in their generous subsidies and excellent training opportunities.
I am absolutely delighted that Sandra has been recognised with this wonderful award. Wiltshire Primary Music Teacher of the Year is a perfect designation for Sandra who has dedicated her long career at The Mead to inspiring young musicians to flourish and to nurturing their growing talents. Music is right at the heart of our school and although Sandra is due to leave The Mead at the end of this term, we are incredibly proud of the musical legacy she leaves us with.