29 November 2015

All The Right Moves

Outstanding Primary Creates Extra School Places for Growing Community

A popular Sutton Coldfield primary school has welcomed 16 new pupils to its outstanding learning community this term, in response to a rising demand for school places in the area.

Mere Green Primary has opened its doors to an additional Year 2 class to accommodate a growing local population, following a major regeneration scheme.

The previously oversubscribed academy, which was given a glowing report by Ofsted this year, has welcomed the six and seven-year-olds, along with their new teacher, Luise Minto. The new class will run alongside the schools’ existing Year 2 class, taking the year group to a two form entry.

Headteacher Anna Balson said: “It’s wonderful to welcome the children and Luise to our school and we’re really excited that they’ve started. Over the past few weeks, the children, families and teachers have visited us and met with staff and classmates, so they already know each other and the school. Our priority is making sure they’re happy and settled: everybody is working together to help them feel completely at home.” 

Ms. Balson recognised that there was a need for additional spaces in year 2 when she met with parents at the start of the school year in September. The headteacher found that because of an influx of families to the area, along with the popularity of Mere Green, some children were on waiting lists and experiencing a challenging start to term.

She said: “Mere Green is a lovely place to live and we’ve seen many families move into this up and coming area. As such, there has been an increased demand in school applications and not all children were able to attend their closest primary. Some of the families were travelling across the city; some had siblings at different schools; and some were even contemplating moving back overseas. It was clear there was a real community need for places.”

It was Mere Green’s “mission” to offer the families places and approached the local authority to make the vision a reality in just a matter of weeks, in time for the second half of term.

Ms. Balson said: “We had the capacity and the right environment to offer those children a quality education on their doorstep at an outstanding, family orientated and all-inclusive school. We wanted to act quickly, so we took the lead to increase numbers and were overwhelmed to receive such support for our decision. The whole experience has been empowering: it’s about doing the right thing, and driving our own destiny to give these families the best life chances.”

Ms. Balson, who was praised by Ofsted for ‘leading with great skill and determination’ said the school’s outstanding reputation for excellence and its relentless drive to raise standards has led to an increase in applications.

The move is the latest in a number of initiatives that the academy has made to meet the demand for places. In September, the top performing primary doubled the number of nursery, reception and Year 4 classes from one to two.  Its long-term plan is to grow with the community and increase the current numbers from 270 pupils to eventually become two form across all year groups.

Ms. Balson said: “This will only enhance our vibrant learning community and make the school even stronger. It will enrich the whole area. We’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received from the local authority, from parents, pupils and our close-knit community. This is because we all share one common purpose: to do our best by these children. And, as part of a network of seven schools – the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – we already know that by working together we really can make a difference.”

Councillor Maureen Cornish said: “This is a real boom time for Mere Green. The whole area is enjoying a renaissance, with significant investment and development. As a result, more and more people want to live and work here.

“Mere Green School has always been at the heart of this vibrant centre.  Anna and her team have answered the community’s call and given families the opportunity to be part of this bright future. This generosity also demonstrates to our children that caring for and supporting each other is the bedrock of any neighbourhood.”