Applegarth Academy - The Times 6th highest performing school 2019
School Name: Applegarth Academy
Local Authority: Croydon
Ofsted Rating: Good
Pupils on roll: 451
Age Group: 3-11
Pupil Premium: 59%
The Challenges faced by the school
Applegarth is one of five schools serving the largest housing estate in London and has an extremely challenging context. When the school joined the STEP Multi Academy Trust in 2013, the Junior School was in Special Measures, and the Infant School Required Improvement. School closure was a possibility due to the extreme challenges.
John Halliwell joined STEP in 2015 as Head Teacher, now Executive HT, of Applegarth, and implemented SfA from Nursery to Year 6. Applegarth was named by The Times newspaper as the 7th most effective school in England in 2018 and the 6th most effective in 2019.
How the SfA Programme addresses these challenges
John had used SfA previously and considered the Co-operative Learning, EYFS and reading and writing strategies of SfA essential for the development of children’s vocabulary, language and literacy skills. John and his staff are extremely reflective and clear that every element of the school day must have an explicit purpose. Their tips for success include:
- Using Co-operative Learning effectively across the curriculum so children build real understanding, rather than simply learning procedural strategies. Adaptations to teaching resources and methods are required.
- Applied writing sessions in the afternoon allow children to practise and apply the writing skills taught in SfA.
- Sentence stems develop understanding of vocabulary, structure and develop discussion throughout the school and the curriculum.
- Write Away activities in Reception use theme-linked vocabulary taught the previous week.
- Cross-curricular links are made as often as possible, e.g. every classroom has a world map and globe which are referred to frequently.
- Staff workload is managed carefully, for each new task, another task is removed.
- Weekly philosophy lessons are designed to help children to consciously consider a range of possible alternatives when making decisions, so improving their life choices.
The Impact of SfA
Children enter Applegarth’s Nursery with skills in the lowest 10% in the country. The data below shows the high progress scores that result in excellent attainment.