The headteacher of a Northampton primary school that has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ says he belives the power of sport has played a big part in the school’s improvement.
Leigh Wolmarans, who was appointed headteacher at Lings Primary School in September 2011, has been praised by inspectors from the Government’s education watchdog for “driving forward many improvements” which have seen the school make a remarkable leap from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’.
Mr Wolmarans said a focus on sport had helped create a fanatastic ethos in the school that helped pupils to achieve their potential.
He said: “We started by building up an ethos and vision for sport, this has to be the starting point and it needed to be focused on a solid base of behaviour and discipline. Our children needed to understand the importance of what it meant to be a Lings Primary pupil before we did anything else. “They needed to have a clear idea of what our purpose was and what we embodied. I was lucky that a boy called Lennon gave me our motto / catchphrase on the first day! He said, “Mr Wolmarans we are here to set a standard”.
“I took that statement on my first day and plastered it all over the school, including on a brilliant piece of art as you walk in to the reception area. We made sure that everyone spoke in the language of growth mindset and that it was all about ‘setting the standard’ in everything we did. Learning and teaching is the key to everything so we set about making sure that everyone knew what our non-negotiables in teaching were and how we
were going to achieve these.”
Mr Wolamarans said he set up a number of after-school sports clubs and linked in with the Saints Study Centre to give pupils as many opportunities for sport as possible.
He said: “What happened was truly remarkable. By March 2012 the school had thrown off the shackles of special measures and had become good in
“We built up a brilliant relationship with an amazing company called Create Development and became a pilot school for their programme called Real PE, which had a huge impact on our school, we will be one of their ‘beacon’ school in September 2015.
“We have built up strong links with so many clubs that it is impossible to name them all. We have a partnership with Northampton Sport that has meant we have brilliant coaches in our school on a weekly basis.
“Our school became town sports school of the year for two years running and then became county sports school of the year in 2014. Lings has gained national recognition for the work that we do with our Change for Life scheme, Virgin Active scheme and the work we do on Real PE.
“The work we do with the School Sports Partnership has had an incredible impact on the standard of what we do and the level of pupil leadership that is evident in our school.”
Mr Wolmarans said he believed the sporting success had also helped academic results increase above national expectations.
He said: “My theory is now as follows – You need to start by developing a growth mindset on life that is built on a concrete base of morals, discipline and respect. You then need to use the power of Sport, the Arts and creativity to develop all learning equally so that our children become the individuals that we need in our society. So that they can one day enjoy teaching their children the importance of education.
“Pick your weapon of change – ours was sport! What’s yours?”