A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 7 June 2018

Earlier this term, we welcomed the pupils and staff of Braintcroft Primary School to the trust. Located in Neasden, London, Braintcroft is just a stone’s throw away from The Crest E-ACT Academy.

We caught up with newly appointed Headteacher Sandra White and her team to find out what the future holds for our newest academy.

“There’s no excuse whatsoever: we can help all of our pupils to achieve.”

Braintcroft is a relatively large primary academy with over 600 pupils taught in a three-form entry. It is the sixth academy in the London and Bucks region.

Like most E-ACT academies, Braintcroft has a high percentage of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and the proportion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities is higher than the national average.

New Headteacher Sandra White however believes that being classified as disadvantaged or SEND should not act as a barrier for any of the children at Braintcroft.

“It doesn’t matter whether a pupil is SEND or eligible for pupil premium. There’s no excuse whatsoever: we can help all of our pupils to achieve. Yes, there will be challenges. There are pupils who, before they even start their work, are coming in with a range of issues. But it’s about what we do once they’re here. We need to make a safe environment for them and give them the space they need to do well.”

Braintcroft has SPIRIT

Sandra and her team have already begun introducing a number of new systems at Braintcroft, from making simple changes like creating a new morning and lunchtime routine for pupils to setting expectations for pupil behaviour from the outset.

According to staff, these changes are already having an impact. Year Leader for Year 2, Selina Carberry, has been impressed by the reaction from her pupils.

“The children have adapted so quickly. My class, for example, is responding really well to the new behaviour expectations. They can already understand and tell me what is expected of them.”

Deputy Headteacher Kathy-Ann McClean, who has taught at Braintcroft since 2010, can also already see improvements. She points out that having staff members involved in the recent changes has been important.

“The academy day is now more streamlined and works better. Since joining the trust, everything feels proactive. Expectations were set straight away and people get it because it’s being done with them. Everyone has been able to observe each other’s classes and note their own points for improvement.”

To convey her high expectations of both staff and pupils, Sandra has also introduced a new set of core values which she plans to embed throughout the academy.

“Our core values are now SPIRIT: success, perseverance, integrity, resilience, independence and thoughtfulness. Everyone’s going to have spirit at Braintcroft, right across the board.”

Part of the E-ACT network

Thanks to its location, Braintcroft has been able to work closely with The Crest E-ACT Academy. Year 6 pupils, for example, have been taking part in sessions with The Crest’s maths department to support their learning, and pupils from all year groups have been making the most of the secondary academy’s facilities. Year 2 teacher Selina has been taking advantage of the CPD opportunities available to staff.

“I’m currently enrolled in a leadership course which was offered to our middle leaders. It’s held at The Crest across the road, so I’ve already been able to work with some of our E-ACT colleagues.”

And it’s not just The Crest that Braintcroft will be working with: Sandra is eager to develop close links with academies across the trust.

“Being part of a multi-academy trust is about working with like-minded people and having that additional support. It’s about using expertise and working with colleagues from other academies to share best practice. I’ve already visited our academies in the South West and I’ll be working closely with them.”

Prioritising pastoral care

Also high on Sandra’s list of priorities for Braintcroft is ensuring the wellbeing of all pupils and staff, and she is keen to implement mental health initiatives across the academy.

“The Mental Health First Aid work going on at E-ACT is inspiring. One of the things that can be overlooked in primary education is that pastoral side because we’re so busy, but I’m all about wellbeing. Yes, good results and outcomes are important, but at the same time we need to make sure that our pupils’ needs are met.”

We’re looking forward to working closely with the academy over the coming months. Make sure you check out our website for the latest stories and updates from Braintcroft E-ACT Academy.