A ‘Gold Award’ School
Watercliffe meadow is an amazing school. Jenny has worked with the school for several years and, unusually, the school opens its doors annually for one day for practitioners from other schools to come and train with Jenny, see their systems working and meet staff and pupils!
David Blunkett MP congratulates Watercliffe Meadow Golden Model School after Scoring Amazing SATs results after a tremendously golden journey.
Watercliffe Meadow School in Sheffield has been on a journey no school should have to go on but please read to the end as we all love a happy ending!
The fantastic Watercliffe Meadow Primary School, ably led up by Headteacher Ian Read and his dedicated and professional teams, was awarded our very special Gold Award a few years ago for introducing the Golden Model and becoming a shining example of communication through circle times, positive lunchtimes and playtimes, superbly managed behaviour and positive systems all round for staff and pupils to keep everyone safe, motivated and with improving skills for learning.
Looking back, a few years ago I wrote:
“I love Watercliffe because, with creative and innovative leadership, over the past few years they have taken a very difficult situation and turned it around in a totally inspiring way. Originally Watercliffe evolved when three failing schools were closed in Sheffield, a wonderful LA that often features near the bottom of the SATS league tables. It is in an area scoring high on the indices of deprivation, yet together they have transformed it into a place of joy and learning where every child and adult’s potential can flourish. I really mean this – it is not said glibly and every visitor to this school will back me up.
At the very beginning everyone had to work for ages to create calm, within which happiness could flourish. They used my Golden Model and eventually, through training, consistency and love they embedded it in its entirety. The Golden Rules gave everyone in the school and the outer community, a shared vision. The practical imperatives, ie, three listening systems, golden time, a whole school lunchtime policy and therapeutic circles of support gave the school such an emotionally safe framework and ethos, which meant that finally everyone could relax and be themselves. The minute this happened, the old flight and fight reflexes stopped sending out their flames of emotional poison and the children and adults could start to hope, explore and take on the best ideas in education whilst maintaining a sense of perspective and shared laughter. The school abounds with uproarious loud laughter, constant chuckles and shy smiles, rituals, celebrations, jokes, dressing up, singing, looking at funny films of themselves – it is a place where eccentricity can abound!”
When I was visiting the school for training in 2011, I arrived on SATS day, the children were pale and some were visibly upset. The teachers seemed drawn and tight jawed…….I have seen it in many schools for many years.
I felt very angry and so wanted that this golden school’s team members could be finally, after years of hard work, feel happy and relaxed and able to feel safe enough to find their true, hard-working, loving, funny, kind and supportive selves. Having just met the 55% floor target of 55% of pupils attaining Level 4+ in English and Maths, a new figure 60% was introduced from somewhere and held over them. What struck me was that I could not see anywhere in this league table any provision or acknowledgement of how many of these children have moved from being frightened, wild, needy, hurt and angry to being 100% calmer and happier so that any adult and child can wander around the school and the playground feeling valued and respected.
SO can you can imagine how delighted we all felt when we received this email from Headteacher Ian Read:
“I am writing with good news (perhaps the best possible news we could have hoped for)!
We will get 82% of our Y6s as Level 4 in reading, writing and maths (floor standard is 65%)
We got 32% level 5 in reading and 28% level 5 in maths
And over 90% 2 levels progress from KS1…our best results ever … and all with happy teachers and children!!”
The Right Honorable David Blunkett MP for Sheffield and Brightside & Hillsborough, who already visited Watercliffe Meadow and was keen to support the school. He has also shown support of our Golden Model and wrote a wonderful foreword to my book “Better Behaviour through Golden Time.” David Blunkett MP wrote:
“Like you, I am over the moon. I don’t usually use exotic language on these occasions but I am so very pleased.
Please pass on my congratulations to all the staff, and a big cheer from me for the efforts of everyone concerned (and the involvement of parents, that has obviously been crucial).
What a difference aspiration makes, as well as damned good leadership and teaching. Once again, well done to everybody.”
The Rt Hon David Blunkett (MP for Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough)
So I would formally like to congratulate the leadership team, the staff, the pupils and the parents for turning round this school, for making it a safe and totally enjoyable place to teach and learn, and for outstanding achievements in every sense!