Spotlight on schools

The great outdoors 

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of child development from 0-5 years. There is scientific evidence that brain development in pre-school is as important as school-based education.  

The pandemic has had a substantial impact on this aspect – indeed on all aspects – of children’s lives.  

In those challenging circumstances, Moor Park School, at Ludlow, made the most of its extensive school grounds and provided the children with a rounded educational experience by delivering its broad curriculum in the outdoors.  

“We believed that embedding skills for life were more beneficial than the watered-down school experience,” explained Nic Marshall. Head of Early Years. 

Kindergarten Teacher Jackie Parry added, “The natural environment helps to develop a positive relationship with nature. This practice has an emphasis on learning through play where our children established boundaries and felt safe and secure alongside a healthy engagement with risk.  

“Climbing trees, stepping stones, digging in mud, den building, story time, stream splashing, making marks in mud, counting sticks and leaves and bug hunting are just a few ways that lead our holistic and learning approach.” 

Nic continued, “The more time we spent immersed in the natural world the more skills we saw develop. 

“The typically quiet child, who needed support with their speech and language development, showed improved confidence and began to spontaneously interact with their peers over a shared interest.  

“With the freedom and space to explore in their own way, children had the motivation to concentrate on a focus of their choice for longer periods of time. They developed relationships with new friends while learning how to share tools or knowledge while spotting birds or collecting treasures. 

“Other children who had become used to frequently washing their hands in a world centred around germs suddenly discovered a range of textures thanks to the multisensory nature of the outdoors. Mud becomes paint, soup, sculptures. The positive consequences of working together saw a shift towards improved confidence, independence and emotional and social skills that will stay with our children for life. 

“Learning outside makes the children feel calmer and more optimistic, but it also has a huge impact on our staff wellbeing. Taking our team of staff out of the classroom into our natural setting fosters improved communication and collaboration between individuals. This has developed a deeper social connection between staff, which ultimately creates a successful workplace.  

“Reducing stress, inspiring compassion, cultivating resilience, and restoring energy; there are many obvious reasons why we will continue to embrace the outdoor environment. However, the most important reason is that it makes the children and staff happy.” 


Room for big imaginations 

Why not visit Abberley Hall School on Saturday June 11th and tour the beautiful, historic grounds. There’s the chance to meet Headmaster, Jonnie Besley, and start your Abberley adventure.  

With 90 acres to explore, children at Abberley Hall make the most of learning in the great outdoors, exploring the world in a unique, safe environment that instils a sense of adventure, life-long curiosity and happiness.  

The optional Saturday morning Discover programme further supports the holistic development of pupils – readying them for the wider world.  


“Whether you want your child to board full-time, part-time or to be a day pupil, and whatever your curriculum preference, Abberley gives you the choice and flexibility to ensure your child thrives.”


Just as academic excellence is at the core of what the school teaches, so too are the Abberley values, including kindness, collaboration and adventure. It is about building resilience in the children so that they grow up equipped to deal with the reality that life is not always easy, and that it’s okay to fall, get up, dust yourself down and carry on. That is at the heart of the Abberley approach. 

Unstructured time outside is a great way to develop resilience as well as creativity and physical health. Many children are growing up in a world in which getting muddy or climbing trees will take second place to sitting in their bedrooms interacting with a virtual world of computer games and social media.  

Thankfully, there is a growing understanding of the importance to us all of interacting with nature. More schools are embracing the Forest School movement and seeing the positive impact of outdoor learning, and Abberley Hall is at the forefront of this movement. Pupils enjoy endless hours learning in nature, from lessons in the school’s tree house classroom, to learning wilderness and survival skills in the grounds.  

This is certainly not to say that life in the classroom is neglected at Abberley, but rather complemented with an inspiring approach to learning which ensures children are rarely bored and are always able to learn about topics in ways which they find interesting.  

Abberley children go on to the best schools in the country, often with a scholarship or two under their belt. This is proof that Abberley Hall’s unique approach to childhood education is giving them the very best start in life. 

Whether you want your child to board full-time, part-time or to be a day pupil, and whatever your curriculum preference, Abberley gives you the choice and flexibility to ensure your child thrives. Alongside high academic standards, the school celebrates individuality and nurtures confidence that shines through. From horse-riding to the chicken-keeping club, from debating to coding, there will be something that sparks every child’s imagination and interest. 

So why not experience what 90 acres of classroom looks like at Abberley Hall’s Open Day on Saturday June 11th.  

Register at www.abberleyhall.co.uk or call Head of Admissions, Mrs Kirsty Falzon, on 01299 891814. Mr Besley and his team very much look forward to welcoming you to Abberley Hall. 


Nurturing global citizens 

St Leonard’s CE is a large primary school, home to nearly 300 pupils. The school is set in its own expansive grounds, close to the edge of Bridgnorth town centre but firmly at the heart of its community.  

Headteacher Kay Ferriday leads a team of well-qualified teachers who are backed up by an excellent team of support staff. 

The school encourages everyone to ‘enjoy success’ by embedding Christian values in hearts and minds, within a nurturing, safe and inclusive environment. This enlightened ethos equips all children to become global citizens.  

A recent OFSTED inspection recognised that ‘Leaders leave no learners behind’ and that ‘Pupils work hard and achieve well at this happy school. They are safe and well cared for. They develop positive attitudes to learning and behave well.’  


“At St Leonard’s, the well sequenced and cohesive curriculum is complemented by many enrichment activities.” 


The inspectors’ report also said that ‘Leaders have high expectations of pupils and want the best for them. Their high ambitions are realised through pupils’ good behaviour and successful achievement.’ 

As a Church school, the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of all pupils are promoted well. At the same time, pupils are prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life by placing an equal value on each person involved in the life of the school whether they are a pupil or member of staff. 

“Our vision and Christian values underpin everything we do as a school: our aims and ethos, policies, procedures, the design of our curriculum, how we treat one another, the decisions that we make and the school’s management and governance,” Mrs Ferriday says. 

The school aims to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice. It encourages an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers its pupils.

 

At St Leonard’s, the well sequenced and cohesive curriculum is complemented by many enrichment activities such as sports clubs, choir and the learning of a musical instrument (currently the Ukulele!) amongst others.  

Parents are encouraged to go into school to join in with whole school worship and the termly Eucharist, as well as social events such as craft afternoons with pupils, family picnics, summer fayres and bonfire nights. 

There is an excellent provision for children from as young as Nursery age, for up to 30 pupils. Nursery pupils follow the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) framework, whilst also having the opportunity to explore the outdoors in dedicated learning areas along with an excellent Forest School provision.  

St Leonard’s also offers an established wraparound care facility on site; Little Lenny’s, where children are well looked after both before and after school, providing peace of mind for working parents.  

Visit www.stleonardsprimary.co.uk for more information. If you would like to view the school, please arrange a tour with Mrs Ferriday by calling 01746 762781 or emailing at admin@stleonardsprimary.co.uk. 


Achieving excellence together  

Wolverhampton Girls’ High School is looking forward to completion of a new building project of four new state of the art science laboratories and a new multi‑use activity studio.  

This investment is from the Department for Education’s Selective School Expansion Fund and the awarding of a £3.5 million grant to the school. Work is set to be completed this Spring. 

The school offers a broad and rich curriculum with over 20 subjects available for study at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School providing an educational pathway that is tailored to the individual student’s needs.  

The extensive programme of extracurricular activities is an integral part of this. A wide range of options is available including sport, music, debating and drama. There is also a thriving house system. Care, support and guidance are key elements at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School. Whilst academic achievements are exceptional this is not a solely academic school. High quality pastoral care and support are a key part of school life. Students join the school knowing that they can fulfil their academic potential as well as developing the key skills essential for success both in and beyond school.  

The school is highly skilled at ensuring students are able to secure places at outstanding institutions as well identifying and supporting applications for other opportunities when the time comes.  

Further details about the application process are available at www.wghs.org.uk or email admissions@wghs.org.uk 


Happiness at its heart 

High quality teaching with children’s wellbeing is at the heart of every decision. That’s the ethos of St John’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Bridgnorth. 

“We have an excellent team of staff who are totally committed to providing an environment where learning is enjoyable and where children feel safe and happy, with our faith central to what we do and who we are,” says Head Teacher Jessica Buzzing. “With Jesus we can achieve what we dream and believe. 

“We believe that every child is a unique individual and we encourage them to explore and develop their learning skills, grow with confidence and enthusiasm, learn how to accept responsibility and, very importantly, strive to reach their full potential.  

“Always at the top of our agenda is the high quality of teaching and learning for the children. Their wellbeing is at the heart of every decision we make. We nurture the talents of all our pupils, whether religious, sporting, musical, artistic or in drama. Pupil voice is very important to us and we have an active School Council, Faith Council and Sports Council,” Mrs Buzzing says. 

The school, for pupils aged 4 to 11, offers wrap-around care from 7.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. In addition, there is a range of after-school clubs throughout the year. 

St John’s believes in strong parent and community links. “Parents are vital partners in their child’s education, safety and wellbeing. Here at St John’s, we have an enthusiastic and effective PTA which always warmly welcomes new members to organise exciting events to raise funds to support a range of educational experiences or new resources.” 

The school works hard to ensure all children are happy and engage fully in all areas of St John’s life, including activities such as Forest School and outdoor learning. Several members of staff are qualified Mental Health First Aiders. 

“We provide the opportunity for every pupil to develop into responsible, confident, self-aware and capable young people equipped to cope with the challenges ahead.”  

St John’s was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted and ‘Outstanding’ by its Denominational inspection. Please contact the office to arrange a visit. 

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