Harbour Primary and Nursery School in East Sussex opened its doors in 2013 following the amalgamation of Grays Infant School and Southdown Junior School after the latter was deemed by Ofsted as requiring special measures.
It has 510 children on roll, many of whom have complex special education needs and more than 50 who work with children’s services. This means that accurately tracking pupils’ progress, attainment and attendance is absolutely critical in ensuring every child reaches their potential, no matter their circumstances.
Christine Terrey, the school’s inspirational and tireless headteacher, had already made fantastic progress with vulnerable children in her role as head of Grays Infant School.
“When I was asked to take on the headship of Southdown too, my sole focus was to lead it out of special measures and ensure children were receiving the best possible education,” says Christine.
“We needed to highlight the barriers preventing pupils from doing their best and ensure we were supporting each child as an individual to develop the skills to learn. Based on my experience of using SIMS at Grays, I knew it would help us do this.”
Christine believes that teachers should know everything they can about each child. She supplied every teacher with an iPad to enable them to enter information directly into SIMS from the classroom or wherever they were.
Christine says the data is just as important to middle and senior management too: “We need to ensure our pupils are ‘secondary ready’ when they leave us, yet the disadvantages some of these children face can put them at high risk of underachieving.”
Christine uses SIMS to spot patterns or trends that might adversely affect children’s learning.
“When I look at the information in SIMS, it prompts me to ask the right sort of questions. Why hasn’t a pupil moved up the expected sub-level? Is it because they have experienced a period of absence, and if so why? Have they been off sick or is the absence connected to the fact that they have a parent in prison a long distance away and need to travel to see them?
“Having this information means my staff and I can talk about how to make sure this child gets the right academic and pastoral support to make better progress.”
SIMS has been key in helping the school to provide evidence of the considerable progress it has already made.
“It’s part of our commitment to provide an outstanding curriculum for all of our pupils. I have seen inspector’s reports that say a school isn’t addressing issues quickly enough, but by using the data in SIMS, we are able to demonstrate to Ofsted just how proactive we are being at identifying and removing barriers to learning.”
Read the full Harbour Primary School case study.