A new name and new identity for Leeds primary school trying to find its place in the community
The re-naming of a Leeds primary school has cemented its place within the community says a headteacher who has been at the heart of its transformation.
Three years ago, Primley Wood Primary School, which was then known as Khalsa Science Academy, had two ‘Requires Improvement’ Ofsted inspections within as many years and had had five headteachers since 2017.
Staff were leaving and pupils weren't coming.
Mr License, a year five class teacher was appointed head of school and an executive headteacher, Deborah Kenny, had been drafted in from Manor Wood which is an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ school.
Now the school in Alwoodley is graded as good by school inspectors Ofsted, and, at the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year there had been another big change.
School leaders felt that the school name, Khalsa Science Academy, was putting people off and wasn't doing justice to its ethos. Established as a Sikh free school in 2013, Khalsa had a desire to recognise the uniqueness of every individual but also the similarities with those they come to school with every day but gave the impression it was a religious school when actually it was open to all.
Today, Primley Wood, as it has been known since September last year, retains Sikh principles such as being honest, kind, creative, active, and living life to the fullest but has a brand and identity that puts it at at the heart of the community it serves.
Mr License says: "It will take a few years to fully establish the relationship and the reputation of the school really. It is known as Primley Wood which was Khalsa so that will change but the name is much more inclusive and we have had really good feedback from current parents and new families.
"We have people moving to the area, now it is one of their first choices and obviously there are many good schools around here.
"We have become a lot more transparent to who we are to the wider community. We always pushed to be a community school and the name puts us back on the map as a location. Primley is a location in Alwoodley and gives us a sense of community without having to shout about it. We have done a lot of work to draw up a catchment area which we had not got before, now we have one for the next academic year . Families will feel that they have a local school for them - it is their top priority."
There are around 160 pupils on the roll at Primley Wood and it can comfortably accommodate 210 children but is looking at going two form and opening a nursery.
And the community links that Primley hopes to form came into play during lockdown when there was a push from all sectors to get laptops and kit for children so they would do remote learning at home and now locals have started knitting hats and scarves so children can keep warm when the school takes learning outside.
Mr License added: "We do a lot of work and the community does so much for us through social media, local councillors and local businesses have donated money to help us with our bid to get new laptops or to collect pre-owned to give families to keep rather than just borrow and that all helped with learning in lockdown."