Hugh Myddelton Primary School’s remarkable turnaround from ‘worst in Islington’ to stellar SATs scores
- Credit: Archant
When Hugh Myddelton primary school received an Ofsted rating of “requires improvement” in June last year, many there were surprised.
“I think it was a real shame,” says teacher Sophie Robinson.
“As a teacher you work incredibly hard, and all you want is the best for your kids. And when somebody comes in and says basically you’re not doing that, it’s really hard to take and can be really demotivating.”
The inspection had come off the back of some poor exam results in 2014, which saw Hugh Myddleton pick up the unwanted title of worst performing school in Islington.
But the appointment of a new headteacher in the summer of 2014 brought with it a new approach to schooling, and changes immediately began to be enforced.
“We were served a warning notice to improve on my first day,” Nathalie Parker, that new head, told the Gazette.
“It means you’ve got a deadline by which to turn things around. Otherwise the whole school is scrutinised. So I put aside what I was planning, and thought: ‘OK, this is what we need to focus on right now.’
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“You know, when I came in I had all these fancy plans, slow working plans, and then we got the warning notice and I thought: ‘Time to roll up our sleeves and get on with it’.”
And that’s exactly what they did. Last week the school hosted an open evening to showcase its transformation since Nathalie started at the school. The choir sang, the brass band played, and there were guided tours of the school conducted by the children.
“It wasn’t just for the kids – it was for the adults,” explained 11-year-old Chloe Selzer, one of the helpers on the day.
“The parents had lots of questions which only we could answer, so it was really good for the parents and the children.”
And nine-year-old Mal Cani, who led some of the tours of the school on the day, said it was a struggle to get the visiting parents from one classroom to another.
“I think they loved it,” he said.
“Most of them didn’t want to leave the showrooms, especially the activities and ICT rooms.”
It’s easy to see why there’s such a buzz around Hugh Myddleton now. The children seem genuinely proud of their school, being adamant that it’s the best around.
And this can be seen in exam results. Shortly after Ofsted’s visit, Hugh Myddelton received its first set of SATs results since Nathalie took over. They showed 91 per cent of the children achieving Level 4 or higher, placing them fifth out of 125 comparable schools in the country. The government requires 80pc of children to be at the national average.
“Even though that inspection was classified as ‘requires improvement’, it was very results-based,” said Nathalie.
“Ofsted were recognising that the green shoots were there and we were starting to improve, and they hoped it would continue. I think the exam results show that we have.”
And it’s not just SATs scores that have improved. Attendance has risen from below the national average to above it; student enrolment is up the equivalent of two classes in 18 months; and behaviour has improved significantly through a new programme of restorative justice.
Needless to say, then, that the school can’t wait for its next Ofsted inspection.
“We just want people to have a different attitude toward the school,” said Nathalie.
“We intend on becoming outstanding. The staff want to be amazing, the children want to be amazing. The school has completely changed.”