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Once failing Purley school celebrating after posting best SATs results in Croydon

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A SCHOOL deemed "inadequate" by Ofsted has achieved the best SATs results in the borough.

This summer every Year 6 child at Wattenden Primary School achieved at least a level 4 in English and maths - the benchmark standard.

Last month Wattenden completed its transformation into New Valley Primary, with a new uniform, many new teachers and a transformed building.

In May 2013, just four months after head teacher Pete Steward arrived, Ofsted placed Wattenden into special measures. Mr Steward says this was one of the best things to have happened to the school.

"It gave me a mandate to say to people that things weren't good enough and had to change.

"The children have now begun to get the quality of teaching they deserve and need.

"A lot of it is about expectation. I demand a lot of the staff, a lot of hard work and a lot of care.

"We've set out the expectation that nothing less than good teaching is acceptable. It was a challenge.

"It was tough and there were some tough decisions to make, and significant improvements had to be achieved, but we started to do that quite quickly."

At this time, nearby "outstanding" school Chipstead Valley Primary took Wattenden under its wing and the two schools have worked together ever since.

Chipstead Valley became an academy earlier this year so the relationship could be cemented, and New Valley opened under the Chipstead Valley Academy Trust. New Valley is a one form elementary school with one class per year group, while Chipstead Valley has two. The teachers from each year meet once a week to plan lessons and review children's progress together.

Mr Steward said the school has the best of both worlds. "Teachers get the support of a bigger school while keeping the atmosphere of a small one."

Ofsted visited Wattenden each term since May 2013, giving positive feedback and saying the school had made progress towards coming out of special measures, progress reflected in its SATs results.

"We knew that this group of children could achieve highly," Mr Steward said. "And because we tracked the children's progress so carefully through Year 6, we knew they were going to do well.

"We try not to think too much about league tables. What counts is that we help the children to be the very best that they can be – to achieve the best results in the borough is a bonus."

And the school's most important critics, the children, have embraced the changes too.

Mr Steward said: "On the first day we had an assembly first thing. It was wonderful, and quite moving, to stand at the front and watch the children come in and look around and go 'wow!', and they were all sitting there in their new uniform looking so smart."

Mark Rosewell, executive head of Chipstead Valley and New Valley, said the children have always been excited about the changes.

"The kids have been enthusiastic the whole way through," he said. "They've just needed something in place to allow that enthusiasm to translate into good learning."

Mr Steward added: "What is key is taking that enthusiasm and pride in their new school and absolutely making it happen. We've told them that it's going to be great and outstanding and we're absolutely determined that that's what it's going to be."

New Valley Primary School will hold open days on October 8 and November 19, both at 9.15am. If you wish to speak to Mr Steward about the school, or want information on enrolling your child now, call the office on 0208 660 1325.

Once failing Purley school celebrating after posting best SATs results in Croydon


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