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Longwood Primary Academy, Harlow: From 'special measures' to a school of 'happiness makers'.

It's been a long journey for Longwood Primary Academy. From a school in special measures, with pupil exclusions running at 20 times the national average and a legacy of under-achievement, a focus on wellbeing and good mental health has helped turn it into a 'good school with outstanding features'.

In his nomination for the happiest Primary School category of the National Happiness Awards, James Hollinsley, Headteacher at Longwood Primary explained the school's journey from special measures to happiness makers :

'By the time I arrived in January 2015, we had only 20% of teaching staff on a contract, and the longest-serving teacher was an NQT. The behaviour had declined to the point in which exclusions were averaging at 20x the national average. There was not a smile in the place.'

With a legacy of underachievement and negative headlines for the local media on Longwoods slump into 'special measures', the team at Logwood primary decided to place wellbeing and good mental health at the heart of the school.

James went on to say: 'As a team, we spent much time talking and deciding on what was important for our community. It was then that one of our support assistants, Victoria, summed it up 'It's all about the mind, body and soul (MBS)'. We haven't looked back since.'

'We started our MBS Experience (before and after school experiences to shape character and learning through Mind-Body-Soul. In 2017-18 the school went from 23 pupils per day with limited activities to providing over 15,000 free breakfasts in one year with over 30 courses per week.

'50 Things at Longwood' was released in early 2017, providing pupils with an extensive list of resilience, character-defining and memorable childhood experiences. By the end of 2018, our school had developed over 20 different approaches to wellbeing and resilience for pupils.'

Longwood Primary recognised that happiness and wellbeing had to be embedded throughout the whole school if they wanted to achieve long-term change. James went on to say: 'For the staff, we started to provide 1:1 coaching. We ran this for one year (2016-17), then replaced the coaching with drop-in sessions when needed. We also wanted to develop teachers through collaboration and making improvement fun. We, therefore, started TLT (Teaching and Learning Together). A range of structures for the staff in terms of development (Teach), work-life balance (Rest), social programmes (Play) and wellness in the school (Live!)'

Longwood Primary Academy 'live and breathe the science of happiness' and believe that the results they have achieved 'are simply awesome'. A plaudit backed up in 2018 by Ofsted's recognition of Longwood as 'a good school with outstanding features', saying: 'The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good because leaders have found imaginative solutions to difficulties in recruitment.'

If you're a pupil, teacher, or part of the team at Longwood Primary school you can support your school's nomination, with a nomination of your own. Or if your school been through a similar journey, tell us about it by nominating them for an award.

Nominations close in a few days. Don't delay, nominate today.


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