A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 26 April 2019

We are absolutely thrilled to report that Perry Court E-ACT Academy has been named on the shortlist for Tes Primary School of the Year 2019. Perry Court is one of eight schools from across the UK selected for their amazing work over the last year.

The winners of the award will be announced at the Tes School Awards dinner on Friday 21 June 2019.

  • Click here to see BBC Points West’s report on Perry Court’s nomination.
  • Click here to listen to the children of Perry Court talking about their nomination on BBC Radio Bristol.

Here, Headteacher Richard Healey explains his academy’s extraordinary turnaround.

Our pupils were being failed…

In July 2017, just 16% of pupils at Perry Court Primary School in Bristol achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at key stage 2. Perry Court was the worst performing school in Bristol and placed in the bottom 1% of the country’s primary schools. Over 18 months we had four different headteachers, and it’s fair to say that we had completely lost the trust of our community.

A third of our children live in poverty…

In Whitchurch, a third of our children live in poverty, and over half of our pupils are eligible for pupil premium. As a result, a lot of our children struggle to see past a glass ceiling.

The most improved school in the country in 2018!

When we joined E-ACT in September 2017, we set ourselves a target of becoming the most improved academy in the city. I’m proud to say that we went one better becoming not only the most improved school in Bristol, but in England, going from 16% in the combined measure to 69%.

We’ve since received national recognition from the likes of Sir David Carter, and we’re even being used as a model for how to turn an academy around in a year.

We did it by listening to our children…

We made a number of significant changes to teaching, tailoring our curriculum to the needs of our pupils by embracing topics that children from our area can relate to. Our children come into the academy at very low starting points, so we implemented new strategies for reading, writing and maths with focus on skills progression.

Our staff do not necessarily work any harder than before, but we now work within a more collaborative model. We’ve also taken away a lot of the admin that staff were doing before, allowing them to focus purely on teaching.

Academy and community flourishing together…

When the academy was performing badly, there was an invisible barrier up between the academy and the community. We’ve since built up our reputation while also helping to repair a broken community, and it has been so gratifying to see the two flourish together.

We’re now open to all, addressing past failings while also focussing on how we can build and grow together. We’ve made a real effort to involve parents in children’s learning through activities like our Fabulous Friday learning celebrations and family mental health and well-being.

We also organised a careers fair for the first time last year with people from the local community. Because a lot of our parents don’t work, the opportunity to meet people who can talk about how interesting it is to have a job was invaluable for our children.

School of the year?

We asked reception pupil Raya-Mae this very question. Her response: ‘well, I have fun when I am learning and I feel proud of my achievements everyday. My mum is proud of me too.’

Well that’s good enough for us!