School focus: Headteacher proud of 'amazing children' who make Derbyshire primary school ‘a lovely place to be’

We have visited a welcoming primary school in Ilkeston which thrives academically and has helping at its heart.

St Thomas Catholic Voluntary Academy, at Church View in Ilkeston, has been praised by Ofsted inspectors for being a school where pupils feel safe and happy.

The primary, which has about 230 pupils on its roll, has continued to be rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted for over 20 years and has welcomed a new headteacher Michael Sellors 18 months ago.

Mr Sellors, who has been working at the school for 26 years, said: “We aim to provide an environment which is safe, happy and nurturing so that all of our children can learn effectively. Every individual is valued and their successes are celebrated. We have high standards of behaviour within an educational environment that challenges and motivates. We provide a curriculum which develops the full potential of every child."

The school aims to provide a warm, welcoming atmosphere and has five gospel values at its core – including love, respect, forgiveness, honesty and friendship.

Mr Sellors added: “We are most proud of our amazing children and staff who make St Thomas a lovely place to be with their positivity. Pupils are encouraged to live out our values during their time in school.

"Older children look after the younger children, especially at break and lunchtimes. We are proud that our children can reflect when things have gone wrong and respond honestly and they build friendships that last a lifetime.

"Children of all ages regularly arrange charity sales and games for causes that matter to them and we have very generous parents as well.”

There are always charity projects going on at the Ilkeston primary – with pupils helping both the local community and disadvantaged communities around the world.

Recently St Thomas Catholic Voluntary Academy held whole school line dancing lessons and raised over £1,300 for CAFOD (The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development). The Advent Reindeer Dash earlier this school year raised over £1,500 for the Treetops Hospice. Pupils also visited a local nursing home around Easter– delivering chocolate and chatting with residents.

On top of that the primary has links with a school in Gambia and children write to the pupils there and fundraise for items that the school needs. The school also has a sustainability squad made up of children who come up with great ideas that we can implement in order to become more environmentally friendly as a school community.

The school has received LiveSimply Award from CAFOD – recognising that pupils and staff are living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the world’s poorest communities.

The school, which plans to open a chapel at its site to a special place for children and staff to go to be quiet and reflective, recently completed an important project. A lovely eco memorial garden was built to remember Daniel, a pupil who sadly lost his life just over two years ago. The garden was designed by Daniel’s classmates and will be officially opened during the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Sellors said: “We are also looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school being on this site. The Bishop of Nottingham will be leading Mass to mark this wonderful occasion. We are looking forward to bringing everyone together for this happy and joyous event.”