READING has been the key to a primary school’s meteoric rise from being given a notice to improve by Ofsted to a good rating in less than five years.
Carol Koerner, headteacher at Sharps Copse Primary and Nursery in Leigh Park, said she was thrilled with the result, which recognised the excellent work of her staff, pupils and parents.
Despite many youngsters joining the school with well below expected skills, they leave with broadly average attainment in maths and English.
And this year, a 100 per cent of all 11-year-olds achieved the target two levels of progress in their Key Stage Two writing exams – against the 86 per cent national benchmark – despite half of them having special educational needs.
Ms Koerner, 46, said: ‘I’m a local girl and I went to school in Leigh Park myself but I didn’t have a particularly good education.
‘I decided I wanted to get into teaching to come back and make a difference. That’s been my mission.
‘The beauty about Sharps Copse is that every single person at the school is out to get the best for the children.
‘I’m absolutely delighted with the Ofsted.’
Ms Koerner highlighted her school’s emphasis on reading as an important starting point.
The curriculum involves lots of hands-on activities and trips, and it is based on subjects that interest the youngsters, such as the emergency services and motorcars, to get them writing as much as possible.
In the course of their school life, all youngsters learn 18 stories off by heart which gives them a strong template for their own writing.
On top of this, the school has invested in three trained ‘reader recovery’ teachers to give intense one-to-one tuition for struggling five to seven-year-olds. And last year, a family room was built for parents to visit and hear their children read.
Ms Koerner said: ‘If children can read, write and speak with confidence they can do anything.’