High expectations – how one primary school went from failing to outstanding

Feb 10, 2018 by

Evelyn Street primary in Warrington says change in fortune is down to raising aspirations both in and beyond the classroom

When Louise Smith first took the job of headteacher at Evelyn Street primary in Warrington in 2004, the school was in a state of decline. Results were poor and the number of children enrolled was dropping. “There were parents who lived across the road who were choosing not to send their children here,” she says.

By 2007 Ofsted had judged the school to be “good”, and four years later the schools inspectorate rated it “outstanding”. Analysis has shown that while on a national level pupils who receive free school meals are falling behind their more advantaged peers, Evelyn Street primary now tops the list of those bucking the trend.

According to official data, the school’s entire year 6 met national standards last year and 55% were judged to be at a higher level in maths, writing and reading. Of that final year, 45% of the children qualified for free school meals.

Sitting in her office in the school’s well-kept 100-year-old building – complete with its old girls’ and boys’ entrances – Smith says she doesn’t attribute the school’s transformation to a set of specific measures but to a general change in culture that involved pushing for improvement at every turn.

She stood down as headteacher in 2015, becoming CEO of Warrington Primary Academy Trust, which was formed in 2016 and of which Evelyn Street is a member. She was replaced by Jenny Hindley, who is sitting beside her.

“When the school got its first ‘outstanding’ from Ofsted, we asked ourselves ‘What more can we do?’, because when you get a label like that you can never be complacent,” she says. “You have to constantly change and reinvent yourself or you will go on the decline again.”

Although Warrington has affluent areas, the school is located in one of the town’s pockets of high deprivation. Smith says the parents who send their children to the school “are hardworking and very committed” but are often on low incomes or struggle to find employment. A key part of the school’s success, she says, has been educating them to have high expectations of their children’s school.

Source: High expectations – how one primary school went from failing to outstanding | Education | The Guardian

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.