Visit to John Keble C of E Primary School, Brent, NW10 4DR 3rd October 2022 – John Davis, Sally Moore, Penny Roberts with Catherine Allard, Headmistress
This school is 2 form entry with 403 children and 70 staff in the deprived catchment area of Harlesden, the London Borough if Brent, North London. The school faces a variety of challenges, which include overcrowded housing (including families housed in hostels or one room), a high number of children who have experienced trauma or have a mental health need including refugee families (Afghanistan, Syria, Kuwait, Ethiopian) over 30% of the children are entitled to free school meals and 29% of children have Special Educational Needs, well above the national averages.
Catherine is doing a really splendid job – the school is OFSTED rated good, and she has been there 7 years and the staff retention rate is very high, so that all children develop with the School’s very special Vision (www.johnkeble.com), and the atmosphere is magical and electric, with messages all over the school illustrating, love, hope, resilience and courage to achieve, and to make themselves and the world a better place. The children obviously adored being there, and some gave me great individual welcome with presents of their work.
Our Grant achieved Catherine’s personal dream of an environmental area in a previously derelict area of the grounds of about 1⁄4 acre. She designed it very carefully with her own staff, employing a landscape contractor, rejecting the Forest School model as too cumbersome. Classes would spend some learning time there each week and also outdoor respite restoring mental health and trauma. It has become a very special part of the school, and has in just two years from concrete mess, gives maturity and oasis in the densely packed urban nightmare surrounding the school. My photos illustrate but do not capture the essence which I describe.
The grant has created an exemplar and is replicable across the Diocese 157 Schools. Catherine should appear on our WDEF website as one of our heroes “Meet Catherine Allard”, alongside “Meet Sally Moore” and “Meet Yvonne Barnett”. I will arrange for this to be written and added to our website.
Sally is arranging another visit for us to catch up with Yvonne in her new School, another of our heroes.