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Feels very rural, on a very quiet, leafy, green site in a delightful setting with a very pretty playing field set in a dell. Fresh air seems to be king at this school. Windows are flung wide and the garden is inside with vases of flowers everywhere – all bright and cheerful.  Parents didn’t need to tell us that this is a happy school; we could see it for ourselves. Our delightful guides were proud, chatty and cheerful. Boarding starts in year 3. Definitely home from home; they even have…

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What the school says...

Stamford Junior School nurtures the academic and social growth of its children, whilst enriching them with values which emphasise community and responsibility. The School is a caring environment in which the children feel safe and happy, and look forward to returning to each day. Stamford Junior School is one of three schools that make up the Stamford Endowed Schools. Pupils normally move to either Stamford School (Boys) or Stamford High School (Girls) at the age of eleven. ...Read more

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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2012 Emma Smith (early 40s). Convent educated in Berkshire, early years BEd from Kingston University. From a Forces background, husband and sister still serving. Previously worked in the state sector in and around London. Bit of a baptism of fire at previous school. Hired as deputy head and within weeks made acting head due to a suspension. ‘I had a very young staff [she was hardly Methuselah herself] with no leadership team. It was an intense experience that I enjoyed, but knew after two years I needed a change. My husband has family in Stamford, so I was delighted to get the job and go back to just teaching for a while.’ Starting to get itchy feet when previous incumbent retired and was appointed head. Nice to see a rather glam head – black fingernails et al.

She’s ambitious, with big plans that are coming to fruition. Reception classes have been moved into a newly converted stable block. A recent bespoke year 6 block. The school is getting larger, but with smaller class sizes, under her leadership. ‘I think emotional intelligence is vital. If you are honest with children they respond well. And never underestimate them. They need to appreciate that they won’t get on with everyone in life but need to treat people, particularly their contemporaries, with courtesy and respect. I want the children to bounce through the door in the morning, have an amazing day and then bounce back out again, full of what they’ve done. My aim is for them to learn to love learning and have a good work ethic.’

Parents are very supportive. ‘She has great vision for the school and is making very positive changes,’ said a year 5 parent. ‘She ruffled a few feathers at first, but listens to people and has learnt to communicate with parents very effectively. Her handling of a very sad, horrible accident involving one of the pupils was exemplary. 'Parents were kept informed throughout, so avoiding any unnecessary speculation,’ said a parent with two children at the school.

Entrance

First come first served into nursery and reception. A few places available higher up the school, via tests from age 7. Quite a large and growing junior school with most children coming from a 20 mile radius. Families attracted by the fact that you can almost certainly stay in the Endowed system until 18.

Exit

Some leave for other schools after nursery, but the majority go into reception. Automatic entry from year 6 into the senior schools means that from year 5 there’s a sharp increase in numbers. A big chunk (some 47 per cent) go up to the senior schools, with the rest going to state sector or other independents. A couple each year are warned early that they might not cope with the senior schools. Handled sensitively.

Our view

Part of Stamford Endowed Schools with its diamond structure. Co-ed in junior and sixth form, single sex 11-16. The junior school is situated just outside the historic town of Stamford. Feels very rural, on a very quiet, leafy, green site in a delightful setting with a very pretty playing field set in a dell. The recently converted stable block housing reception class adds to this, along with the recent nursery building. New-ish year 6 building awash with iPads etc. Lots of outside space, climbing frames and toys obviously well used. The classrooms spill into the outside space down here through large French windows, which were flung wide during our visit. Lots of newly-planted seedlings in the garden. All year 5s do nursery duty at lunch time and go down to help the toddlers. The main building is surrounded by pitches, grass and Astroturf. New learning garden and adventure area by the river. Fresh air seems to be king at this school. Windows are flung wide and the garden is inside with vases of flowers everywhere – all bright and cheerful.

Many parents relocating to Stamford from London, often returning to their roots, choose the school. The town was recently voted by The Sunday Times as the best place in England to live, and we can see why. A lot of pupils are second or third generation. ‘We came from a state school in London and I was very worried about fitting in,’ said one parent. ‘We couldn’t have been made more welcome, by the school, or other parents. I think it’s a fabulous school. My children have gone from strength to strength and will try anything now, whereas they were very cautious before.'

All children learn musical instruments. Recorder for the early years, strings from year 2 (poor parents) and piano in year 5 and 6. Lots of clubs, ranging from chess to gardening, sewing, sports and orchestra, and there’s even a left handed club. New clubs for year 6 include DR, science awards and gardening club, plus Saturday cookery and craft sessions. Artwork all over the place, and it’s good. One of the teachers has her work displayed and on sale, great for the pupils to see.

Sport is thriving and open to all. School gymnasts were U11 Mixed Floor and Vault National Champions. Rugby, hockey, netball, tennis and swimming teams are doing well. ‘The sport is tremendous, but I am disappointed that as a latecomer to the school my son has found it hard to break into some of the A teams, as there are "invitation only" squads for the best players,' said a parent. 'It is hard to improve and catch up if these squads are getting extra coaching. That said, both of my children are very happy and it’s my only gripe’.

A lot of learning is through play in the early years. ‘We came from overseas where a lot of emphasis was on academic success. I worried at first that the children didn’t seem to be pushed hard enough. But I soon accepted that the softly, softly approach works well. My children have been transformed and are so much more relaxed and happy.' ‘What I really like about the school is that it feels like a local school and very much part of the community,’ another parent told us.

Spanish and French taught from year 3, Italian also available. They have a thumb scanner for the library; we enjoyed that. Every child reads for 15 minutes in class daily. Science week when we visited. Lots of excitement about making false blood for homework – from pupils and parents. ILIC – independent learning and intellectual curiosity - is a big ethos throughout all three schools, and they start them young, instilling a good, enthusiastic work ethic.

Special needs not overlooked. Some 63 have SEN status. SENCo teachers praised by parents. ‘My child joined in year 3 and is on the autistic spectrum. The bedding in period took a while, but the school was very accommodating and listened to professional advice. My child has gone from strength to strength and is thriving’. Another mother said, ‘My son is dyslexic and gets lot of support. Extra lessons, spelling groups and assistance are given if needed, but he is not made to feel different.’

Boarding starts in year 3. Most boarders are flexi or weekly, with handful of Forces children full time. Boarding house is a lovely, honey coloured stone building situated in the dell. Large garden with climbing frames, chickens and rabbits. We were welcomed by two slipper clad boarders who showed us every inch, chatting all the while. Definitely home from home; they even have jobs to do, with a rota. Nice and bright and airy. No phones upstairs, taken away at night, and no social networking. ‘The children need to interact and be sociable, not glued to a phone,’ the likeable housemistress told us. Homework supervised and lots of weekend trips: a forthcoming visit to the Natural History Museum involving a sleepover eagerly anticipated. Scruffy the dog is very much part of the boarding family.

There’s a very strong parents' association that offers huge support to the school, providing funding for various trips and talks. They’re listened to as well. The head is reducing class sizes because of parental pressure – mutual respect is the impression we got.

Parents didn’t need to tell us that this is a happy school; we could see it for ourselves. Our delightful guides were proud, chatty and cheerful. Food is good, we were told, particularly the lasagne. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a cheery smile. A joyful place, offering a happy, positive start to education. A very good grounding to take to the increasingly impressive senior schools. Hard to see why you’d go elsewhere locally.

Special Education Needs

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