From the bottom of the heap to the top in just six years

Copnor Junior School pupils celebrate after the school received an outstanding Ofsted report

Copnor Junior School pupils celebrate after the school received an outstanding Ofsted report

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

Parliamentary candidates grilled by students at Portsmouth College debate

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A SCHOOL has transformed its fortunes by achieving an outstanding Ofsted rating less than six years after it was placed in special measures.

Copnor Juniors has gone from languishing in the bottom one per cent of primary schools in England to flying high in the top nine per cent – an amazing feat for a school with just 415 pupils.

Headteacher Doug Brawley

Headteacher Doug Brawley

Headteacher Doug Brawley, who was appointed a year before the school was placed in the lowest possible category in November 2004, said: ‘It’s not just the fact that we’re outstanding that is great news, but that we’ve come right from the bottom of the pile and out in an incredibly fast time.

‘When I first arrived at this school I realised there were some issues, but I’ve been blessed with the hardest working, most dedicated team here and our standards have improved.

‘My staff always put the children first and they have excellent relationships with them and know them as individuals – that’s what it all hangs on.’

Mr Brawley explained the two-pronged strategy that shaped the positive changes. The short-term plan, which helped get the school out of special measures by November 2005, was to focus on the core subjects, maths and English. In the long-term, Mr Brawley wanted to embed a culture of enthusiasm.

Mr Brawley said: ‘As a school we are very focused on learning first, and then teaching. We regularly ask the children what they want to do and what interests them, and we study their feedback to work out the best ways to bring the curriculum to life.’

An example of this approach sits in a corner of the school behind a draped curtain – an ancient Egyptian museum created by the children complete with painted life-size coffin and hand-made artefacts.

In another corridor there is a display of intricately crafted body organs including a sponge in a papier mache head and an apron with intestines stuck to it.

Hands-on learning is a recipe that works, as expected level 4 combined English and maths Sats results have shot up from 61 per cent in 2004 to 81 per cent last year – well above the 73 per cent national average.

Mr Brawley said: ‘Look around the school and you see the children are motivated and happy.

‘I always knew we’d get an outstanding rating, but I didn’t realise it would happen so soon.’

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