Horsham primary school helps shape best practice in education

Leechpool Primary School pupils and head teacher SUS-191209-132541001
Leechpool Primary School pupils and head teacher SUS-191209-132541001

Sweeping improvements at a Horsham primary school have led to new UK-wide recognition.

Best practice at Leechpool Primary School has been showcased in this year’s Parliamentary Review, an annual series of publications spanning key public and private sectors in Britain.

Leechpool’s head teacher Nicola Davenport was invited to contribute following changes that have transformed the school in recent years - seeing it go from an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’ to ‘Good.’

In the review, Mrs Davenport tells of the challenge of addressing issues such as “pupil behaviour, curriculum change, teaching quality, the learning culture, staffing structure, quality assurance and assessment processes – while bringing everyone and everything together and resolving major infrastructure issues.”

She says that throughout the process of improvements “we refused to compromise on our broad curriculum in which music, modern foreign languages, art, PE and sport add to our children’s energy, fun and understanding.

“Education is about preparing our children for life beyond school.”

She says that demands faced by today’s head teachers need a focus on the academic and social well-being of pupils accompanied by a rapid response to rolling changes in regulation and curriculum requirements and a laser-like attention to budgeting.

She writes in the review: “Successive reductions in our grant funding have forced us to cut all non-academic costs ... We thrive only because we pursue imaginative solutions that secure value for money and long-term sustainability.”

Like fellow head teachers, Mrs Davenport is concerned about future funding and she highlights “the tragedy that those who have been most damaged by lack of funds are children with special educational needs.”

Chairman of Leechpool governors Stephen Humphreys said: “Good schools like Leechpool play a vital role in providing a safe, stable, nurturing and rewarding environment for their pupils.

“Mrs Davenport’s important contribution to this year’s Parliamentary Review reminds us that no school achieves these goals without a clear vision and immense effort.

“Outstanding leadership has its costs. Nicola does not spare herself, or her staff. Together, they are tireless in their determination to provide every child with the wherewithal to thrive in school, and beyond. I, and my fellow governors, are proud to give them every support with this critical mission.”

The 2019-2020 Parliamentary Review’s South of England Primary Education edition includes contributions from the heads of 14 schools and is accompanied by articles from leading figures in politics and the media. In addition to Leechpool School in Horsham, there are contributions from head teachers in schools in Kent, Devon, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Cornwall, and Berkshire.