I visited Mayflower Community Academy in Plymouth recently for what I expected to be a straight-forward meeting with headteacher David Sammels. However, I could tell from the off that this energetic headteacher was keen to give me the full ‘Mayflower experience’.
At the end of our meeting, David suggested that we go for a walk around the school. As we explored the site I was struck by three things:
Every classroom exuded the expertise of the teaching staff, from the carefully planned layout, to the engaging display boards, to the varied and exciting lessons I saw in progress.
Each pupil we encountered wanted to share something about their day with us. From the boy returning to the support centre proudly showing me his fireman’s outfit, to the year 4 students who needed Mr Sammels to arbitrate their playground dispute, I was impressed by the friendly and open nature of this school community.
With parents joining pupils for early morning support with their reading, and a team of parents’ association volunteers wrapping hundreds of presents ahead of the Christmas Fair, I was inspired to see a school making such an impact on the whole community.
However, the most impressive part of my visit to Mayflower was yet to come. As David and I returned to his office, he paused to speak to a year 6 pupil, asking him to round up three or four other members of the ‘ChOfsted Team’. David explained that the school has a team of pupils who work alongside the senior leadership team on all aspects of school improvement, and that these pupils like to interview visitors to the school about their impressions.
I ended my morning at Mayflower with four members of this ‘Children Ofsted Team’ – children with an intense and intellectual interest in their school and how it can improve. As we chatted, they asked me what I thought of their school, what they did well and what enhancements they could make.
Their visible excitement as new ideas came to light was delightful, as was their pride in the many positive impressions I was able to share. I left Mayflower inspired by the impact which can be generated when excellent teachers empower their pupils to work alongside them to improve their school.