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When we arrived the whole school was outside engaged in a cross-country run around the 23 acre site. It is a school where children climb trees (‘ I often wonder what a health and safety official would say,’ said one parent wryly) and get muddy (‘You have to expect to have the washing machine on every evening,’ another told us.)  The head says there is a bit less time for traditional English and maths than some other schools give, but he points out that the children nevertheless achieve highly, the vast majority…

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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

Principal

Since 2006, Jim Turner (early 50s), who is not in the flashy CEO-style head mould. He is comfortable feeding the chickens that are on site and breeding the birds that the children delight in watching. But alongside the gentleman farmer image, there is a man who cares passionately about the sort of education that is right for young children. The children are learning from doing – and a lot of the doing goes on outside. Jim Turner‘s first headship was in Sunderland and the children tell us that the trials and tribulations of the football team there are a running theme at assembly time. To say it is just a place of work for him would be travesty – he lives and breathes the whole school. Parents say that he is more comfortable around the children than around them but that is the way everyone likes it. The children want to tell him about all their successes and they want his approval and praise. People often say a good head knows all the children – at King’s Hawford that means a lot more than just knowing everyone’s name.

Entrance

The school pretty well fills up at kindergarten and only occasional places become available later on, if someone moves out of the area. Certainly at kindergarten level it is fairly non-selective. Children visit the school and are informally observed.

Exit

Most (over 90 per cent most years) go on to the senior school King’s in the centre of Worcester. A number win scholarships there each year (11 in 2018). Parents are given plenty of warning if their child might not pass the exam.

Our view

When we arrived the whole school was outside engaged in a cross-country run around the 23 acre site. The school is just to the north of Worcester and has all the open-air feel of a rural paradise. As well as the extensive grounds, the children are encouraged to make full use of the adjacent river, canal and farm. They embrace the full forest school curriculum, working on real tasks with real tools. They start using the school's own swimming pool from the age of 3 and from 7 they paddle canoes on the canal. They learn to be confident around water and this relevant life skills approach characterises everything about the school.

The head and parents described the site as ‘a children’s village’. Apart from the deliciously quirky, original Georgian house where there are now some classrooms and a dining hall, the buildings are all low level and spread out, giving plenty of space for chickens and children to run around. It is a school where children climb trees (‘ I often wonder what a health and safety official would say,’ said one parent wryly) and get muddy (‘You have to expect to have the washing machine on every evening,’ another told us.) You feel the children are not confined in a way that many schools have to restrict movement. ‘The children never stop moving,’ one parent told us, and we saw no child who looked even a tiny bit overweight. There is a brand new sports hall/performance space where the architects have taken the concept of a barn to enhance the village feel of the site.

Drama, music and dance are all prominent for everyone. The children can read music by the time they leave, they all learn an instrument and over 80 sing in the choir that takes part in local festivals as well as school events. There are about 60 in the school orchestra with masses of formal and informal opportunities to perform. Sport is also hugely popular with two sports afternoons a week and the children have had national successes – the U11 netball team had just competed in the national finals when we visited. The head believes in giving children lots of opportunities – he wants them to be open, eager and wanting to try out the new, so the extracurricular programme is extensive – construction and sewing, story tellers and IT, cartoon/comic drawing and bridge to name just some of the startling range.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, the children have the normal school lessons – though even here it is in fact quite unusual. The 3 year olds learn German. Years 5 and 6 take three modern languages. They are taught old-fashioned loop handwriting and the forgotten arts of carpentry and cookery. There is no IT room but the school is dripping with technology that the children can take outside the classroom and use. There is a school radio that you can access from the website which the children run. After the cross-country that we watched, the current radio team did interviews with the runners for next week’s radio show. The head says there is a bit less time for traditional English and maths than some other schools give, but he points out that the children nevertheless achieve highly, the vast majority getting places at the King’s senior school. Class sizes are small – 16-20 - and in year 3 and above, the two classes are split three ways for English and maths. There are tracking systems in place to pick up any progress problems and support teachers are used from year 1 onwards if a need is identified. Additional support is not charged to parents. Nor is the wrap-around care offered from 7.45am to 6.00pm, except at kindergarten level. The after-school provision has recently been restructured so there is a supervised prep time before activities, allowing the children to go home with no school work to complete – totally in keeping with the school ethos of letting children be children and not tiny undergraduates.

The children are happy, healthy, open and engaged – far more interested in getting on with their next activities that making polite conversation to visitors. This is not a school for children who want to sit in front of a PlayStation all day. Parents say King’s Hawford has a warm, close community, village school atmosphere with all the opportunities of a much bigger school. ‘It is no hothouse but it gets the results,' we were told. The discipline seems to work on the basis that highly motivated and challenged children behave well, and parents love the fact the school doesn’t have to be disciplinarian in any way. The parent body is pretty mixed – lots of doctors from the local hospitals, established farming families and business people.

‘No one gives up at King’s Hawford’, said parents, watching the cross-country races. ‘Everyone is encouraged and they all believe they can do anything.’ This is a 21st century Swallows and Amazons school. We want to ship Department for Education officials out here to see what can be done away from the deadening performance table approach to education.

Special Education Needs

The school employs a number of support staff to assist both in the classroom and in individual support lessons. All support lessons are an integral part of our provision and there is no additional charge for such provision. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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