Welcome to the second installment of our school spotlight series. This month’s featured school is Kensington Primary School in Newham, East London.
According to a study, young individuals between the ages of 4 and 24 are six times more likely now than a generation ago to suffer psychiatric disorders. In 2019, 57% of education professionals pondered leaving the field. Armed with this knowledge and suddenly more conscious of it, Ben Levinson, the Head-teacher, recognized a problem and devised a remedy, a new Curriculum K that focused more on all areas of health. As a result, Kensington Primary School won Pearson’s school of the year 2022 award. As a result, a better student and teacher well-being over into academics.
“When we looked at the curriculum at that time, we weren’t convinced that the children loved learning it or that the teachers loved teaching it. There were many great aspects, but others where it was hard to see what the point was.” Ben Levinson
Wellbeing among students
Students are the reason schools exist thus schools should be tailor-made for them. Consider what Kensington Primary School has done for its students. After it was determined that the schoolchildren were suffering from either obesity or mental health difficulties, a new school curriculum was developed that included around 2 hour periods of workouts each day and a dedicated Wednesday for everyone to participate in physical activity. As a result, Kensington won the bronze, silver, and gold awards for Healthy Schools London from 2019 to 2022, making it the first of its kind in Newham. In addition, the school received the National Healthy School Award for Wellbeing and Mental Health in 2020. This acknowledgment demonstrates that students’ well-being is increasing as a result of Curriculum K.
Wellbeing among staff
According to one study, seven out of ten parents believe that improving teacher well-being benefits students. As a teacher, I understand the points of view expressed in Ben Levinson’s article. Teachers do not have enough time in a school day to finish everything. Ultimately, teacher burnout occurs, which is harmful to both the student and the teacher. At Kensington Primary School, this is no longer the case. A team member from Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Education receives mental health training at the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools. This shows in how teachers at Kensington Primary School are fully supported reflecting in how teachers are supported fully at Kensington Primary school. Teachers are commended regularly on social media platforms like Twitter, and celebrations such as Thank a teacher day are a norm.
“Our ethos is very much about wanting our children to love coming to school, but our team and our parents and everyone to love being there.” Ben Levinson
With so much emphasis on mental and emotional well-being, one would question how academics do. Academic characteristics improved at Kensington Primary School due to the introduction of Curriculum K. Students at the end of Key Stage 2 scored 104 for reading and 107 for math, with national averages of 102 for both. In 2022, however, 74% of students attained higher reading, writing, and math standards. As a result, the school has received several accolades for its academic achievements, including
An outstanding Ofsted report
Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) award for a well-rounded school
“Our vision is a place everyone loves to be because we fervently believe that if the children love being there, then the staff love being there, and the parents love being there. That will ensure the children learn most effectively and make the best possible progress.” Ben Levinson
Use of Edtech
Digital tools are also incorporated into Curriculum K. The two main tools used are mySchool App and Pickatale.
The mySchool App works very well with the vision of including parents in the school community. It updates them on the day-to-day activities planned so that they are part of the learning process. This positively fuels the students’ well-being.
Pickatale empowers the students to read daily and regularly. This could be the key to how the school moved up the Ofsted ranks from Requires improvement to Outstanding in just 3 years. That is a commendable turnaround that shows the many awards are all well deserved.
Kensington Primary School is a welcoming, inclusive, and caring environment for students, teachers, and parents. According to the IQM Director, the school embraces all parts of a school community, making it a “school for everyone [where] everyone matters because everyone cares.”
© all images in this post are copyright of Kensington Primary School