Northlands Wood Primary Academy say ‘we’re all learning together’
“School is a lot more than what we learn academically,” said Mark Sears, Northlands Wood Primary Academy’s headteacher, a sentiment reflected across the campus.
The school has work from pupils adorning walls, shelves and the floor, they have a sensory garden, and a dedicated reading dog called Joey so pupils can ‘develop their reading in a safe and non-threatening way’.
As a school with a higher than average cohort of disabled children, Mr Sears said how they have to ‘consider things a bit differently’.
Of the 400 children at the school, about 20 have autism. Some children wear hearing aids, are blind, and there is also a boy with dwarfism.
Mr Sears said: “We’ve had to find a balance between wanting to give an environment that is right for children and helps them develop and flourish, while ensuring our teachers can keep up.”
They run various events to promote understanding of those in different circumstances, like No Pen Day to show pupils what it’s like to not have a pen or pencil to learn with and to show other ways of learning, World Mental Health Day, and Autism Awareness Week.
The school runs other initiatives to encourage unconventional ways of learning, like forest school where pupils and teachers explore the natural environment, make dens, learn to use tools safely and go on scavenger hunts.
Mr Sears said: “Everyone, including teachers, is on a first name basis to remove any hierarchy - we’re all learning together.”
One recent project launched is the 100 books initiative, all chosen to be books every pupil should read while at the school, supported by Waterstones who have donated books.
He said: “Parents bought a lot of the books, as well as staff, and the children have been very excited about it.
“We feel the books are a good range of vocabulary and difficulty to push them before starting high school.
“School is about what the children take from us when they move into the next stage of their life and about them enjoying themselves and being ready, especially in high school.
“We hope when our pupils leave the school they feel that we have prepared them well for life outside of here.”