A Leeds primary school is celebrating a fantastic year of music, improved results and community involvement.
For the past year, Richmond Hill Academy has been an Opera North In Harmony school, with every child learning a musical instrument, receiving weekly lessons and singing in a choir.
Pupils have already been putting their skills to good use with performances at The Great Together, in memory of Jo Cox, alongside a host of other shows.
Principal Anna Mackenzie said the weekly music sessions make a huge difference to the children. “They absolutely love it,” she said.
“One of the things that has impressed me most is the focus and concentration they show through all the rehearsals and performances. They are really proud of their achievements.
“What has also been wonderful is that children who might never have discovered they are musicians have realised they have this fantastic talent. It gives different children the chance to shine who might not have had that experience before.”
And it seems everyone at Richmond Hill has plenty to sing about this year thanks to the hard work of teachers and pupils and the support of the local community.
In 2017 the school was put into special measures by Ofsted before becoming part of The GORSE Academies Trust nine months later.
The changes made since then have helped transform not just pupils’ progress but its relationship with its entire community.
Richmond Hill now works with local councillors, volunteer groups and the Osmondthorpe Hub, among a host of other community organisations. Its pupils have been praised for their outstanding behaviour on recent educational visits and the building plays host to after-school clubs for over 200 children each week.
“Perfectly understandably, historically the community had lost faith in the school,” said Mrs Mackenzie, who took up her post in January last year.
“But that has really changed. All the events we put on now have a fantastic parent turnout, whether it is a parents’ evening, a celebration event or an awards ceremony.”
A recent survey of nearly 200 parents found almost 100 per cent believe their child is happy at school.
Ninety-nine per cent said their child makes good progress, 98 per cent believe their child is safe at the school and 96 per cent would recommend Richmond Hill to another parent.
The improved trust from parents is well deserved – progress has improved in key areas at all levels of the school.
Key stage 2 progress, where Richmond Hill was previously in the bottom 97-99 percentile, is now in line with the national average.
“What we are all about is helping children to achieve,” said Mrs Mackenzie.
She believes there are several key factors which have helped Richmond Hill to transform its fortunes.
“The fact that the school became a part of The GORSE Academies Trust is absolutely crucial,” she said.
“The support provided by GORSE is second to none because they have such high aspirations for all the children in the trust.
“Really significant this year is we have got a really strong team of teachers and
senior leaders who have extremely high expectations of themselves and for
“We have gone from a very high turnover to a very low turnover of staff which is very important to the parents, knowing they are going to see the same faces welcoming their children back next year.
“We are very fortunate to have such a strong team of professionals who all really believe in something – that children in this community deserve for the school to be outstanding.
“We are not there yet but that is our aspiration.”
To find out more about Richmond Hill’s transformation and how it could support your child to achieve their full potential visit www.richmondhill.leeds.sch.uk