School focus: Small school at heart of Derbyshire village inspires children to learn to the best of their potential
The school, which has 100 pupils on roll, is more than a century old and is located at the heart of Horsley Woodhouse, a little Amber Valley village.
Despite a glowing ‘good’ Ofsted report published in March this year, Parmjit Atwal, headteacher at Horsley Woodhouse Primary, wants to improve the school further with plans to strengthen its links with the community, introduce more extra-curricular activities and continue with the ambitious curriculum that has earned acclaim and praise from pupils and parents.
Mrs Atwal said: “The children who attend our school make us proud every day and we feel privileged to work with them to ensure that they receive a high-quality education.
“We have close links with our community. The church is just next door and, at times such as Harvest Festival and Christmas, we will take pupils there to celebrate the occasion. Our school prides itself on working as a team with staff, families and governors in order to achieve the very best outcomes for all of our wonderful children.
“We do, though, feel that there is always room for improvement and have approached community organisations such as charities and the local carnival committee asking if we can be involved in one of the highlights of the year here in Horsley Woodhouse.”
Children are encouraged and supported to achieve and develop and, particularly in mathematics, the school, which is a part of the Embark Federation is excelling.
Mrs Atwal added: “This was a point recognised by Ofsted inspectors – we have a 92% attainment in Year 6 in maths and were praised as school leaders making sure that pupils’ mathematical understanding builds in small steps, right from Reception age. We want our pupils to be confident and competent mathematicians.”
There is much praise, too, for the variety of clubs available to the children – from jazz with local musicians from Hot House Music, to karate, gymnastics and gardening club.
Horsley Woodhouse Primary, being in the heart of the county, has views over Amber Valley from its playground and boasts an extensive Forest School area complete with a wooden shelter for when it rains and a hut.
And it’s not only the youngsters who enjoy being outdoors.
Mrs Atwal said: “The Forest School area is hugely popular with members of staff, too. We’re very conscious of a healthy work/life balance here at Horsley Woodhouse and staff are encouraged to get outdoors and take in the stunning views.”
Because Horsley Woodhouse is a small school, older pupils are encouraged to ‘buddy up’ with the younger ones. One of the most popular ways that this is done is via a befriending scheme at the start of the academic year. It can, though, cause quite a few tears come the end of the year.
Mrs Atwal added: “Starting school is a big deal and as well as our Year 6 pupils being a friend for the new starters, it can help the older ones to develop a sense of responsibility and achievement.
“We did have quite a moment earlier this year, though, when the Reception pupils made ‘thank you’ cards and sang a special song for those who were leaving to go to secondary school. A few happy tears were shed that day!”
Mrs Atwal is proud of how inclusive her school is, with the Ofsted report stating that most parents of pupils with special educational needs were very positive about the support their children receive. The introduction of an early reading programme that meets the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND helps to deliver effective reading and the brand-new library – formerly a condemned kitchen – helps pupils to develop into accurate and confident readers.
The school values opportunities to learn about various cultures and religions, with the most recent topic being the study of Islam – a session led by Derby Open Centre.
Mrs Atwal added: “We live in a wonderfully diverse world, and we want that to be reflected in what we teach. For a small, village school, preparing pupils for life in Modern Britain is important.
“We have a beautiful environment and wall displays that share British Values, too, which have been created by skilled members of staff and take pride of place in the school. We want our school environment to inspire our children to learn to the best of their potential and to be proud of their achievements.”
Applications opened in October for those parents whose children are due to start school in September 2024. For further details, visit the school website or contact the school office. Spaces are available in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 for this academic year.