Next month, our Key Stage Two pupils will join their friends from our sister school, Thornhill Primary, on a three-day residential trip to London. The group will be lucky enough to receive a tour of the Houses of Parliament, as well as a visit to the Tower of London, a ride on the London Eye and a day at Harry Potter world. All pupils from Year 3 onwards can take part in a yearly residential which is one of the key events of our school year. The school visit a different city every other year, with trips to York and Edinburgh being venues in the past. School trips are an essential component of our curriculum and we try to embrace the outdoors wherever possible.

Later in the spring all pupils from school will take part in a forest schools day. This takes place termly and is a key part of our curriculum. As a school, we believe that time spent outside is essential to pupil emotional well-being and helps support a healthy lifestyle. The forest school agenda helps to develop resilience, build co-operation and introduce our pupils to new skills within the natural environment. We are lucky enough to have our own amazing outdoor space too, which all children are able to use during the school year to support their curricular learning. We know that much can be learnt outside the classroom.

Last term, all pupils enjoyed a residential as one of the school’s regular ‘sleep over’ events. This meant embracing the outdoors in a different kind of way: to view the stars. The pupils enjoyed a ‘space sleepover’ where they learnt about the night sky and went star spotting. This is a regular event in school and one of a number of special events which take place in our yearly calendar. We are lucky enough to live in an area with very little light pollution which makes star-gazing much easier.

At the end of the month we have our public speaking event. The theme this year is ‘How I would make the world a better place’. All the children get a chance to take part, delivering their speech in front of our judging panel. The winner is the child who delivers their points in a clear convincing way. At Arlecdon, we are keen that children develop their voice and learn to speak passionately about the things they believe in. We see this as an essential skill for the future and even our youngest children are encouraged to take part in the public speaking competition. We often have local people in to speak to the children about their life and work, as an inspiration but also to role model this skill. In November, we were lucky to have a serving member of the armed forces, Mr Crone, who spoke to our pupils about what remembrance means to him.

We are an inclusive school and our aim is to serve our community, preparing pupils for the next stage in their lives and raising aspiration through exposure to varied and differing environments and by providing a challenging curriculum. Our small mixed age classes allow for pupils to work at their own pace, with support if required. We have a hands-on approach in every classroom and promote investigation and enjoyment in all we do.

Pupils interview school staff to find out more about them

Our roving reporter Harry and his colleagues Amelia and Emi, have been interviewing key staff members at Arlecdon Primary School.

They started with the most important and longest serving staff member, Mrs Barbara Campbell.

Harry: How long have you worked at Arlecdon Primary School?

Barbara: Over 52 years! I started working in the kitchens but now come in every single day to clean and keep the place tidy for the students. I have barely missed a day since I first started 52 years ago. I love it.

Harry: Wow, what has kept you working here for so long?

Barbara: I love the children, I have seen generations go through the school from the village.

Harry: What makes Arlecdon so special?

Barbara: Everyone is so friendly, it is great to be part of a big Arlecdon Family

Next, our roving reporter spoke to our newest staff member, Mrs Kerry Farish, who started as a teacher in January.

Harry: How long have you been working at Arlecdon and what do you do?

Kerry: I have only been here one week, although I visited a lot before Christmas. I teach Years 1 to 3 every day.

Harry: What do you like about it so far?

Kerry: Everyone has made me feel so welcome and they all work very hard. Because it is a small school, everyone helps each other.

Our reporter then spoke with Miss Rebecca Routledge, a key member of staff who has many roles supporting pupils in school.

Harry: You do lots of jobs in school, how long have you been at Arlecdon and what is your day like working here?

Rebecca: I have been here four years. I have worked as a teaching assistant all of this time but have recently been trained to support children with emotional needs and this is a key role in school for me, providing one to one support for children who need this. I also support learning in classrooms during the day, which I really enjoy as I can see the progress children make and how they feel when they finally understand something which they have found challenging. I also oversee the ‘Wrap-around’ service which includes breakfast and after school provision. This is a key role in school, as many families rely on this care whilst parents are at work. We try to provide a variety of activities for the children but also host special events like parties and film nights. Some of our parents hire us to host their child’s birthday celebration, which is great- I get to attend lots of parties! I also work as a midday supervisor at lunchtime which allows me get to know the children in a different way and help to keep them safe. I certainly am a key part of the Arlecdon community.

Changing lives through learning

West Lakes Academy became a Multi-Academy Trust because we wanted to work with others who sought to transform their children’s educational experience in the same way ours have over the past 11 years. Thanks to our sponsors, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and the University of Central Lancashire, we have been ‘Changing Lives Through Learning’ for over a decade, carving out our own nationally-recognised performance.

This has continuously relied on improvement in every aspect of school organisation and, inevitably, in order to sustainably improve other schools, there is learning for everyone involved. Arlecdon School, along with Thornhill School, became the first intrepid explorers in to our world where together, learning from each other and alongside each other we are establishing school improvement capacity; supporting each other with a forensic analysis of our collective improvement needs; supporting and deploying world-class staff in all areas; providing access to stunning practice, innovation and expertise at all levels; and constantly reviewing improvements so we can make changes to become even better.

As we reflect on the last term, one of the key aspects of success is the fact that Arlecdon has a boundless energy and capacity to support children. This capacity is founded in credible, experienced staff who diagnose a child’s needs and pull together the efforts of the staff team to change that child’s life through learning. This wouldn’t exist were it not for the selfless and unstinting contribution of the headteacher, Wendy Figes, who is wonderfully supported by everyone who works at the school.

Whilst there is no single way to create and lead a Multi-Academy Trust, I believe what we’ve started with Arlecdon and Thornhill Schools is special. Our design principles (the secret recipes!) are intended to share the wealth of best practice that exists and embed it in the strategic planning and thinking that underpin a legacy of nation-beating performance. The children who get the benefit of that life-changing experience then have the additional benefit of having priority access to West Lakes Academy (subject to our admissions criteria).

If you visit the school, you feel the ambition: it seeps out of the very fabric of the building as well as the staff. This is because the staff are the best leaders, teachers and support staff; deployed to ensure that as many children as possible have their lives changed through learning. We are proud to be associated with such a special school