National praise for headteacher Selene Sawyer as Lionwood Junior School in Thorpe Hamlet is found to be ‘good’ by Ofsted
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:35 08 December 2016
Archant Norfolk 2016
“I’ve never had a boring lesson in this school and I don’t think I ever will” - these were the words of a pupil at a Norwich junior school, as inspectors rated it as ‘good’ in its latest Ofsted inspection.
Lionwood Junior School, in Wolfe Road, was inspected in October and the report released at the beginning of this month.
Ofsted praised executive headteacher Selene Sawyer, and senior leaders, as “highly skilled and effective.”
And the school was given an ‘outstanding’ grade in two categories, with a ‘good’ rating in the remaining two,
Mrs Sawyer was especially praised as being a “highly skilled and dynamic leader” with the rest of the team recognised for their “relentless focus on ensuring that every pupil achieves the very best.”
The school joined with Lionwood Infants School in 2014, and inspectors said this collaboration had benefitted pupils and teachers.
The infants school went from a ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ rating earlier this year.
Mrs Sawyer, who leads both schools said: “When we got outstanding down at the infants it changed my life, and now I just feel so proud. To get one outstanding in a year is one thing, but to get a junior school with outstanding elements, it’s just massive.
“It’s all credit to the staff, the team of inspectors said if they could lift our senior leadership team from here they would put them all over the country.”
Mrs Sawyer also praised governor and parents for their role in the school’s success.
And it was not only the inspectors who were impressed with Lionwood, as pupils had their points to make too.
Lennie Johannes, 10, said he thought the school was good because “everybody gets along in our school, we’re always friends with each other.”
Flynn Johnson, also 10, added: “I’m human proof to being friends with everyone.”
To improve further, inspectors said the same rapid progress which had been made in maths and English needed to be extended to other subjects, such as history and geography.
And the progress of the “most able disadvantaged pupils” needed to be further accelerated.”
Mrs Sawyer said she agreed with these points.
“The judgements the inspectors picked up on are the things we picked up on, it will get there.”
Ofsted inspectors found:
• Staff provided “outstanding leadership which is rapidly transforming the school”.
• Governors recognise the school’s strength and “provide a very effective balance of support and challenge.”
• The personal development and welfare of pupils was a major strength, with the pastoral team working with outside agencies.
• There was good support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, which was dubbed as “extremely effective.” Inspectors said: • “The school is highly inclusive and all necessary steps are taken” to meet children’s needs.
• Disadvantaged children achieved well, but it was recognised that more could be done to help the most able disadvantaged children to progress.
• In some subjects other than English and maths there was not always a “sufficient challenge for the most able pupils.”
National leader of education
As well as being praised in Ofsted reports, Mrs Sawyer and her staff have been selected for a top role supporting other schools which may be in challenging circumstances.
Mrs Sawyer is one of more than 80 headteachers to be appointed to the role of national leader of education (NLE) in the latest recruitment round.
NLEs along with staff in their school - designated a national support school (NSS) - use their success and professionalism to provide additional leadership capability in other schools.
NLEs are deployed to suit the needs of each school needing support. The type of support provided is flexible and can sometimes involve NLEs becoming executive headteachers. They also have responsibility for developing the next generation of NLEs and national support schools.
Infants school Ofsted success
Lionwood Infants School was one of just seven schools to be highlighted in the East of England in Ofsted’s annual report.
This year’s findings were that schools in Norfolk have “hauled themselves up by their boot straps” and the county was the fifth most improved in England for the proportion of pupils at good or outstanding secondary schools over the last four years.
Lionwood Infants was put forward as one of the case studies after moving from a ‘good’ rating to ‘outstanding. in March.
Mrs Sawyer’s leadership was praised as having “created a culture of high ambition”.
“Central to the school’s success is her drive, vision and innovative approach to making the school the best it can be,” the report said.
It also praised the “rapid progress” made by pupils, the school’s support for educational improvement across wider Norfolk and a “commitment to do things differently”.
When the rating was announced, Mrs Sawyer said the support they had received from parents had been “overwhelming”.