Situated in Old Basford, three miles from the centre of Nottingham, Southwark has 720 children on roll, aged from three to eleven years and is extremely fortunate in having a new building. The school has been designated as an “exemplar project” so the building has a VERY high budget - £14 million! The average new build of this size has a budget of about £8 million. Consequently, our new build offers state of the art facilities. Everyone in the school was involved in the planning process.
The school buildings accommodate up to 630 children and has a 90 place F1 unit. This means a potential total of 720 children on roll. There are three bases or “hubs” to the building: Nursery, Reception and Y1 inhabit one area, Years 2 and 3 another, and Years 4, 5, and 6 in the third. This is designed to aid transition. The EYFS and Y1 hub consists of two 45 place F1 Nursery units, three F2 Reception classes and three Y1 classes. Across the Year 2/3 hub there are three Y2 classes and three Y3 classes and in the Year 4/5/6 hub there are three classes in Y4, Y5 and Y6.
Southwark has an extremely talented Senior Leadership Team under the direction of the Head of School. This consists of an Assistant Head Teacher for each hub as well as Assistant Heads with responsibilities for Safeguarding as well as Assessment. All have a proven track record of exemplary teaching and are extremely effective at leading their whole school responsibilities.
Team spirit is vital to us at Southwark as we face many challenges that come with inner city education. Southwark staff all share a “can do” philosophy and have very high expectations of the children.
We are a forward thinking school and believe that our pupils deserve the very best provision. As part of this, we employ specialist teachers in Music, Art, Science and PE to enhance the curriculum provision within the school. We also deploy a two teacher model across Year 2 – Year 6 for English and Maths lessons every day. This means that each class has two teachers who share planning, teaching, marking and assessment responsibilities. This has proven to have a dramatic and positive impact on the academic progress of all of our pupils as well as improved behaviour and more effective use of teacher time and resources. In Year 6, all of our pupils get the chance to undertake vocational courses in addition to the Year 6 curriculum engaging in activities such as Construction, Hair & Beauty, Food Technology and Electronics. We have created strong links with both secondary schools as well as local colleges to offer our pupils a wide and diverse educational experience! In addition to this, we have adopted a daily teeth brushing initiative across the whole school as well as annual dental check-ups in-school to promote positive, lifelong health habits.
Here at Southwark, we regard excellent behaviour as essential if children are to learn and achieve their full potential. We also acknowledge our influence in promoting positive behaviour which will enable our pupils to be successful, life-long learners and responsible citizens. Staff provide experiences for the development of a number of personal qualities and attributes. As our pupils enter the Early Years & Foundation Stage, we focus on the ‘characteristics of effective learning’ and as our pupils move further up the school we focus on six main learning behaviours: teamwork, determination, focus, curiosity, creativity and reflection. We promote these learning behaviours through all areas of the curriculum, as well as discuss these in assemblies and explicitly recognising, encouraging and celebrating when these are shown. Each learning behaviour has its own superhero character, designed by pupils, to support pupils adopting ‘super hero powers’ to display each desired characteristic.
Parents are very supportive of Southwark and school events are well attended. Parental feedback has proven that parents are happy with our new approach to feedback and parent evenings. Instead of rushed parent evenings on two evenings during the academic year, we have adopted an assertive mentoring approach which enables teachers, pupils and parents to engage in high quality dialogue at a flexible time – this might be straight before or after school. This more structured time enables communication to be focussed and effective.
Our outstanding facilities ensure that our pupils receive the very best in academic and extra-curricular provision. There is a 3G pitch, a multi-use games area, and a grass area. The outstanding 3G facilities are available to the community when not in use by the school. We also have a Sports Hall and a Main Hall. Additional community facilities incorporate a community room, and a variety of meeting rooms. All pupils have access to adventure play areas and habitat areas during play times and every classroom has sliding folding doors to give direct opportunities for outdoor learning. We also have a beautiful quiet courtyard and a gardening area. Consequently, our school council, eco club and gardening club are always busy! We run many, many sporting extra-curricular clubs and are extremely proud of our sporting success and passion for physical activity both competitive and for enjoyment. We also have a beautiful stage and theatre standard sound and lights to make our annual performance extra special – every child takes part in our summer production!
Southwark has a mixed clientele and the popularity of the school means that children come from far and wide in addition to the immediate neighbourhood. There is a high degree of deprivation, as indicated by the very large number of free school meals and children on the special needs register, but we also have many children of high ability.
There is a high turnover of families moving in and out of the area, so children tend to come and go throughout the school year. An increasing number of our children are from ethnic groups other than White British, coming from many different backgrounds. We have a few pupils who are asylum seekers; the number of pupils who enter school with EAL is increasing considerably year on year. The constant intake of pupils during the year, and the increase in pupils with EAL, has implications for everyone who works at Southwark as induction and catch up programmes are essential throughout the year groups. We have a member of staff who is specifically responsible for admissions of children throughout the year.
Punctuality and attendance of our pupils is extremely important for our pupils to continue to develop and progress both academically and socially. Southwark’s attendance is above national figures and has steadily risen for the past four years. Our attendance team, alongside all of our staff here at Southwark, work tirelessly to promote the importance of punctuality and attendance with regular prizes and incentives in place for pupils with excellent attendance as well as those who demonstrate significant improvement.
The school also offers an extended day with a Breakfast Club and an After School Club, both available for a small cost. Our Governing Body is an active one and they work hard to ensure the school is deploying resources and investments as effectively as possible to ensure all pupils receive the best possible education.
Southwark has a reputation as a highly inclusive school. Our approach to supporting pupils with special needs, as well as deployment of behavioural strategies to maintain a calm and effective working atmosphere, has received praise from the Local Authority and from OFSTED. We are an active and forward thinking school with staff of many different ages, backgrounds and interests. Southwark is a challenging place to work and we expect a lot from our teaching staff in terms of high quality teaching – our children deserve no less! However, the two-teacher model, PPA and additional leadership time supports our teachers with this. We are highly supportive towards new staff at all levels in the school and we try to make induction as effective as possible.
Southwark is a large, active and exciting school. Our staff demonstrate passion and drive to ‘go the extra mile’ for our pupils and local community. Working here can be demanding, because only the best will do for our children – they only have one chance and many of them have to overcome the issues that can come from a deprived environment. We work tirelessly to support and develop all staff through outstanding professional development opportunities led by our dynamic senior leadership team in partnership with the Believe Academy Trust. Here at Southwark, we also recognise sustained outstanding performance and give opportunities for accelerated pay progression as a result. We have a clear staff engagement strategy to make working here as rewarding as possible through additional benefits and incentives. If you like a challenge, and want a school that “buzzes” about teaching and learning, then Southwark is the place for you!