Mercury Article: Weston should be proud of huge improvements in local schools

Any parent, wherever or whoever they are, wants a good education for their children. In today’s global ‘knowledge economy’ it’s what’s between your ears that matters most. And if we get it wrong, there’s an ever-growing crowd of highly-skilled people from India, Brazil or China who will happily do a lot of jobs online, from the other side of the world.

Weston always used to have a problem with this stuff. Our staying-on rate (the number of pupils who keep learning beyond school leaving age) was below the UK average for ages, which put local businesses on the back foot when they needed to hire skilled workers.

Nowadays that’s (mostly) a thing of the past, with huge improvements at lots of local schools. But I was particularly interested to see what’s been happening in Bournville Primary School, where they won a national award for educational ‘value added’ (i.e. how much pupils learn, after allowing for what they knew when they started) putting them in the top 2% of all schools in the country.

So I invited myself along to find out what they’ve been doing. The first thing to remember is to ignore the building; it’s fairly new, and very nice, but what happens inside matters more. It’s the quality of the teaching and the teachers, led by the Head Adam Matthews, which is the secret ingredient. It’s incredibly hard to define, but it’s absolutely central to their success and really stands out when you’re there.

There are some other things too, of course. The Pupil Premium, which means Government cash follows pupils from the least well-off backgrounds, so neighbourhoods like Bournville get that crucial bit extra, has probably helped as well. But, ultimately, it’s down to an impressive team, and to their pupils too. Weston can be proud.

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