All change as school joins academy trust
Cherry Orchard Primary School has formally joined The Rivers CofE Multi Academy Trust.
The change, effectively making Cherry Orchard a new school, is part of its ongoing recovery from being placed in special measures last year.
The Rivers trust is a group of 15 mainly primary, first and nursery schools across Worcestershire and Sandwell.
A monitoring inspection carried out remotely by Ofsted in March has noted improvements under the school’s new management, which included the academy trust appointing Karen Banford as headteacher.
The inspection found that the school’s leaders and people responsible for governing it were taking effective action to provide education against the backdrop of Covid restrictions.
Among the findings were that: “Leaders have already made improvements to the way that lessons are planned and delivered in reading and writing.”
Also noted was: “Leaders have ensured that teachers have the equipment and expertise they need to deliver lessons remotely.”
Phonics training for all teachers and teaching assistants had “helped teachers to plan well-sequenced phonics lessons that can be delivered in school or at home”.
An area of criticism that had contributed to the school being forced into special measures had been its shortcomings in dealing with pupils with special needs or disabilities (SEND).
The Ofsted inspection said the school’s leaders had since arranged an external review of the school’s SEND provision, resulting in changes in the way support for SEND pupils was organised, with staff receiving additional training.
The report stated: “Consequently, staff have a better understanding of how to support these pupils.
“As a result, pupils with SEND who are currently working in school or at home complete work that is well matched to their needs.
“Some pupils receive additional individual support when needed.”
Headteacher Karen Banford, left, with Kate Brunt, chief executive officer, The Rivers CofE Academy Trust
New head Karen has embraced challenge
The headteacher tasked with turning around Cherry Orchard Primary School has spoken about how she has embraced the challenge.
Karen Banford was appointed by the Rivers CofE Academy Multi Academy Trust.
She said: “We really want to work with lots of different stakeholders locally and to open it up to be the place that it was and it will be,” adding: “It’s just about me really as head making these connections locally.”
She explained: “I have been in a very similar school before. I’m used to being resourceful and asking whether people want to get involved.”
The school marked joining the trust with a day focused on the mental wellbeing of children and staff following the challenges posed by educating pupils during a pandemic.
A circus skills expert got children to try their hands at activities including juggling, plate balancing and diablo.
Balloons decorated the school, a ceremonial cake was cut and a time capsule was buried for future pupils to discover.
Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer Dele Alli recorded a special video message that was played to pupils.
“It’s so important that we keep our spirits up so that’s what we’re doing,” said Mrs Banford.