Headteacher hails Tower Hill Primary School's massive turnaround

Witney Gazette: Headteacher of Tower Hill School in Witney, Tracey Smith, speaks with pupils Camron Edwards, seven, and Charlie Green, seven. Picture: OX64751 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo Headteacher of Tower Hill School in Witney, Tracey Smith, speaks with pupils Camron Edwards, seven, and Charlie Green, seven. Picture: OX64751 Damian Halliwell

A PRIMARY school that had among the worst results in the country has now been named one of Oxfordshire’s best.

Ninety-four per cent of Year 6 pupils at Witney’s Tower Hill Primary School reached the expected level in reading, writing and maths.

The Key Stage 2 results – where pupils are expected to reach level 4 – were just 22 per cent in 2010.

This made it the fourth lowest performing in England. But it has more than quadrupled its figures to 94 per cent, well above Oxfordshire’s 78 per cent average.

Headteacher Tracey Smith, who started at the Moor Avenue school in September 2011, said the school is “closing the gap” between pupils.

More than half get the Pupil Premium– funding for disadvantaged pupils aimed at helping pupils keep up with classmates.

Ms Smith said: “We have managed to ensure children receiving Pupil Premium are not falling behind their peers and we are closing the gap.”

Ms Smith added: “The parents are very supportive and have become more interested in helping children to achieve their best. We have become a value school where we talk about behaviour and learning in terms of value.

“We are not a church school so we teach morals through respect, responsibility, positive aspirations and teaching children to be healthy.

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“We have raised the expectations of children of themselves and giving them positive mindsets and telling them they can do well if they try hard enough.”

The school has also increased attendance to 96 per cent and has specialist teachers for reading and maths, as well as running intervention groups to boost attainment for children.

Chairman of governors Liam Walsh said: “We decided to fight to improve the school. We took a deep breath and said we need to improve these results and to improve the school and that is what we did.

“We knew that year was going to have quite low results.”

Ms Smith added: “There has been a fairly negative view of the school in the local community but there has been a major shift in perception.”

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron said: “Tower Hill Primary School is achieving wonderful things.

“Tracey and her staff are successfully plugging the gap in attainment for more vulnerable pupils and they and the parents and pupils alike should be extremely proud of the school’s recent successes. I am looking forward to visiting the school again in the future.”

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