During an unprecedented time for education, St Elisabeth’s decided to run its own survey of children and parents/carers to see how they were feeling about school. The results, as Head of School Bev Burrows explains, were both hugely encouraging and testament to everyone’s hard work.
Schools are sometimes characterised simply by results. As a thriving school community which has grown immeasurably since our previous Ofsted report thanks to a committed team of staff, we understand the impact of that – both positive and negative – more than most. But there’s one result that came out of our recent Parent Questionnaire that made us really proud. A fantastic 97 per cent of parents and carers agreed that their child had enjoyed the year at St Elisabeth’s.
The questionnaire also revealed the direct consequence of children enjoying school. There was a huge impact on their ability, focus and enthusiasm for learning. We know this because 100 per cent of parents and carers agreed that their child had worked hard – and 94 per cent felt their child had progressed over the year.
Bear in mind this was an unprecedented time for primary education. The school was only open to key worker children for an entire term – and as you will know, we also had to take the step of closing completely for a short period. There were bubbles, staggered start times, online learning and naturally, significant concerns about everybody’s health. So these results are an incredibly encouraging expression of support and thanks from our parents and carers.
They’re also testament to the caring, nurturing environment we’re so keen to foster at St Elisabeth’s – as well as the hard work of our children. The Year 6 leavers in particular got through what felt like a year’s work in two terms; there was some real graft going on! And I believe this work ethic came about because they were engaged and enthused by their learning.
Some of that engagement comes about because we involve children in the direction and values of the school – via a similar questionnaire to that which parents and carers fill in. I just want to take this opportunity to share with you a few of the children’s reflections:
“Everyone is treated well and looked after… the school welcomes children from any background… you make lots of friends.”
“The amazing teachers are lovely and every day teach us new things [through] fantastic interesting topics.”
You can read more comments on our website – where you’ll also see that 95 per cent of children agreed they were happy at St Elisabeth’s. They also had plenty of suggestions as to how school life might be improved further. When a child asks for a seven day week at school you know you must be doing something right, even if we all need our weekends! But when we get children asking for even more reading resources, lunchtime choirs, forest school sessions or quiet areas at lunchtime, we take their vision for their school seriously. The work the School Council has done via the leadership team to make some of their ideas and wishes a reality has been really first class.
And with happy, fulfilled children you begin to see excellent work being produced. Their books are amazing, and some of the displays in the communal areas of school, from art to geography, architecture to PHSE, are genuinely stunning. I’m only sorry that Covid restrictions mean the wider community and parent/carer body haven’t been able to see it.
Still, as we begin to emerge as a school from the pandemic, we are so pleased to offer once more the broad range of experiences that our balanced curriculum supports. A trip every half term for each class remains our aim, as do residentials for Years 4 and 6 – and an outdoor activity day for Year 5.
Even returning to collective worship has been so lovely. We’ve kept it in the Key Stage groups for now, but to see Year 1 children experiencing that togetherness for the first time, having missed out on collective worship all last year, felt really important. It felt like having your family back together.
That sense of community and family is ultimately what I really took from these questionnaires. In the last half term, our circle time was about belonging and what that meant in terms of where we live and where we go to school. As we came up to Harvest, our theme was about thankfulness – not just in terms of the things we are able to eat, but how we should be appreciative and mindful of the people all around us.
And from that there is certainly a much greater appreciation of the role a school like St Elisabeth’s can play in the community of Reddish. The pandemic highlighted how crucial we were as a safe haven during troubling times. As we navigate the coming years, I’d like to think our lived ethos of Belonging, Believing, Becoming will have a real impact on the young people – and families – we serve.Visit St Elisabeth’s CE website