In May I visited Iqra Slough Islamic Primary School where the headteacher, Gareth Thomas, and deputy headteacher, Noeman Anwar, told me about the school’s journey from special measures to good in two years.
Mineza Maher, an assistant headteacher, began by giving me a tour of the school and I found it difficult to imagine that this dynamic, inspiring school had so recently been in special measures. In every classroom, pupils were engrossed in their work, surrounded by vibrant displays and exciting learning materials. I was surprised to see one newly qualified teacher supporting a student teacher and Mineza told me that Ofsted had been just as surprised to discover she was a newly qualified teacher, given her outstanding teaching.
We visited almost as many intervention groups as classes and I was impressed that these were all led by teachers or senior leaders. No wonder the school’s results have improved so quickly – in 2012, 57% of pupils achieved level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths. In 2013, this rose to 81%.
I was particularly impressed by the school’s focus on developing their staff – the majority of the senior leadership team had been recruited from within. Noeman had progressed from teacher to deputy headteacher in two years and is getting ready to take over as headteacher in September.
Gareth told me that each teacher has a personalised training programme, with a mentor to support his or her development. Teachers are fully aware of the expectations of them but also know that they will be fully supported.
I came away from Iqra Slough Islamic Primary School inspired by what a strong leadership team and determined body of staff with a clear vision for success can achieve. Over the next few weeks on our school leader service, we will be sharing in more detail how this school and others manage to demonstrate such exceptional improvement.