Our Ofsted report, carried out in January 2019, grades the school as Requires Improvement. We now have a new Headteacher and I have an ambitious vision for making this school an exceptional place for children to learn and embrace a range of life experiences. Substantial changes to the school have already taken place to ensure we provide the best possible provision for your children and you as families.
We have also received recent nominations for four teaching awards for: Wellbeing School of the Year, Headteacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year (TES, 2020). In 2021 we were nominated for a National Pearson Award: Making a Difference Primary Award and are pleased to share that we were awarded a certificate of excellence following this.
I want to highlight some aspects of the report to let you know how Woodlands has improved over time and about the things we are prioritising.
The following indicates the key areas that we are addressing, as highlighted by Ofsted and we will continue to improve these areas and others to make our school exceptional. There are many more changes we have made to ensure we are continuously evaluating our provision to offer children the best possible education but here are the key points of the report and what we have done to improve. We hope that the many other aspects are showcased through our website:
- The leadership team has completely changed, as a new Headteacher, I lead an incredibly ambitious team to improve Woodlands provision. Our senior management team ensure that staff know what is expected of them and how we can drive progress in school through working together. We have been working on key priorities, dramatically changing and adapting our curriculum and making wellbeing central to everything we do at Woodlands.
- Leaders now plan in advance, thinking of the school’s long term goals, priorities and budget to ensure we have the financial capacity to deliver on things such as training for staff and curriculum improvements. We have been training our middle leaders to become ‘experts’ in their subject and support other staff within school. We know what we are good at and what we need to improve to make our provision even better and this is robustly linked to our School Development Plan and staff targets. In our most recent Local Authority review (November 2019) they noted that ‘Leaders and Governors understand what they need to do to improve further. They have open and honest discussions to identify expectations and to develop distributed leadership'. This was identified as a recommendation during the 15.11.2018 review and has been addressed.
- We have a dedicated staffing team which includes new members, including myself, since the Ofsted report last January. The staff who have remained at Woodlands are ambitious to move away from the label of being ‘Requires Improvement (RI)’ and have taken on the challenge of 'Really Improving!' New staff have joined our school aware of the exciting challenge ahead of us and have risen to that challenge.
- Morale of staff was an issue when Ofsted visited us and we have worked incredibly hard to address that. We reward staff in many ways to thank them for the additional time they put in, their positivity and to support retention and recruitment at Woodlands. Staff wellbeing is also key to our school improvement plan and will be a focus as part of our three year cycle whilst we embed this, modelling to other schools how far we have come and we believe we set a strong example of recruitment and retention for other schools to follow.
- To support pupil wellbeing, we have been driving wellbeing for all within school. We have wellbeing champions (pupils that support pupil wellbeing), a team of staff named our ‘Wellbeing Team’ who support families in many ways - sometimes just being here to listen is enough and at other times, directing them to other professional and specific support as necessary in order to get it right. Please see more in the wellbeing section of our website, whilst created by Woodlands it has been adopted by many other schools!
- As well as supporting and developing leaders (and future leaders) in our staff, we have also developed leading roles for pupils. Woodlands is proud to have an active School Council, Eco Council, Wellbeing Champions and Playground Leaders. We also have a dedicated group of parents, our ‘Parent Partnership Group’ who work closely with myself, the Headteacher, to drive improvements at Woodlands. This is having a positive impact and developing relationships between parents and school well. Our Parent Partnership Group feedback to other parents and include their points of view during our termly meetings.
- In May 2021, we completed our Wellbeing Award for Schools status, a very desirable award held by few schools locally and nationally showing how important wellbeing is to our everyday curriculum.
- Another group of highly valued leaders in our school are our Governors. We have two new Co-Chair of Governors and have developed the members of our Governing Body. They attend training and are a supportive, yet challenging Governing Body to ensure we deliver on our promises. Our Governing Body includes parent Governors and both a teacher and teaching assitant from other settings. In a recent review from the Local Authority, a selection of our Governors were questioned and it was noted that our Governing Body is ‘well lead and functions effectively…Governors are knowledgeable about the school, their roles and responsibilities; they know what the school needs to do to improve. They have confidence in the Headteacher who provides the information needed for them to perform their role well. This includes both financial and performance data and suggestions for further reading. As a relatively new board they recognise their skills gaps and are actively looking to broaden the education expertise within it. Minutes demonstrate appropriate levels of challenge and show that the board takes a strategic role in school improvement. There is strength within the board.' (November 2019). Since this review, our Governing Body continue to move from strength to strength and as a Headteacher, I recently nominated them for a National Governance Award (NGA, 2021) where we were shortlisted.
- There were elements of our paperwork for safeguarding that needed addressing. This was immediately addressed. We asked for a safeguarding audit (as well as a health and safety audit) that have taken place to ensure we are doing everything to the highest standard. We have even shared our practice with other schools to support them. We also now use an computer based safeguarding programme (CPOMS) to track any safeguarding concerns to identify vulnerability of pupils and track these within our leadership team.
- As Headteacher, I am also a member of the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ working group which is made up of Health and Educational professionals to look at how to improve Heath and Wellbeing for all children within Solihull. I have also been actively involved in the development of the Solihull ‘Early Help’ Strategy to further support the development of safeguarding within the Borough.
- We are continuing to improve how we use teaching assistants to maximise learning opportunities at Woodlands. They now play a more active role in the introductions and plenaries of lessons and support many groups of children during the day. They continue to offer interventions at times of the day, particularly in afternoons and these are more strategic, impact monitored and are beginning to link to specific staff strengths as a future area for us to develop training opportunities.
- All teaching assistants are involved in our drive to improve phonics and support those with special educational needs to ensure that everyone is accessing their full potential. We have been focusing staff meetings towards these areas, as well as understanding and developing other areas of our curriculum. Some staff have had specific training to develop their roles long term.
Whilst this is only a snap shot of the improvements we have made so far at Woodlands, we believe they demonstrate our commitment and show how far we have already moved on since our Ofsted report was published.
We are an incredibly ambitious school, always looking for ways to improve and evolve- we welcome our next Ofsted inspection so that they can see how far we have come also!
Thank you for taking the time to read through some of our improvements in-line with the key findings from our Ofsted report. Aside from this report, we have grown our school in other key areas such as staff training, reading for pleasure, progress for all, SEND provision and much more! Please find our report below and please do see our prospective parents page for further information on who we are now: