Federation - Crowded house: from 300 pupils to 600

5th November 2010 at 00:00

Ann Tanner, head of 600-pupil Whitley Park School in Reading, is working to create a single school after her previous three-form entry infant school was federated with the neighbouring junior.

"All the time I emphasise to staff that we are bringing together the best features of the two schools," she says. "I did work incredibly hard on relationships, but now I have to come to terms with the sheer size.

"Some processes which worked well with 300 pupils are not right for a school with more than 600. Communication is one of the greatest challenges, ensuring everyone has the big picture."

The school community meets in different combinations so that people get a chance to meet. The management structure is based on three phases, each with its own leader, covering nursery to Year 1, Year 2 to Year 4, and Year 5 to Year 6. Assemblies are held for children in Years 1, 2 and 3 separately from those in Years 4, 5 and 6. But for harvest festival things were shaken up so that children in Years 1, 3 and 5 met together, as did those in Years 2, 4 and 6.

And there are physical changes to the school which reflect and support the changes in relationships. "For pupils, we have new sweatshirts which amalgamate the two previous school logos. For staff, the local authority has been absolutely amazing. In times of great financial difficulty, they have provided us with a fantastic staffroom, which makes a huge difference."

The merger was supported by nine out of ten parents replying to the consultation, with comments such as "Best thing to happen to the children" and "Great idea, best thing for both schools".

And as for the children who used to spend playtimes waving at their siblings and friends through the fence dividing the two schools, now there is no fence.

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