Highlighting best practice
Head teacher Joanne Carvell
with some year 5 children
Stella Walker, assistant head teacher, and
Sarah Tootell, Key Stage 1 leader, lead an
immersive drama lesson with year 5 children
Vernon is a large, successful and thriving primary school in
Poynton, Cheshire East, with a strong ethos for creativity
and holistic learning, with the individual child at the heart
of everything they do. The school motto, “Nobody Else Is Quite
Like Me” permeates throughout their daily practice. Children
are equipped with lifelong skills, a love of learning and the
key values of respect, independence, co-operation, creativity
and curiosity. Children at Vernon Primary School are confident
in driving their own learning forwards and striving to achieve
their potential. Head teacher Joanne Carvell here discusses how
high expectations, a personalised curriculum and outstanding
teaching and learning enables pupils to flourish and ensure that
standards are consistently high.
Rapid improvement
We became a primary school ten years ago when the existing infant and junior
schools amalgamated. During this time of challenge and change the consistency and
strength of the senior leadership team ensured that the journey, though rigorous, was
ultimately rewarding and successful. Rapid improvements across the school reflected
the outstanding leadership during this time. Two Ofsted inspections following
amalgamation have recognised the positive impacts of the change, resulting in an
“outstanding” grade administered in all areas under the 2012 framework. The senior
leadership team, alongside a very strong governing body and a highly skilled team of
team of staff, continue to drive our school forward with energy and determination.
»Head teacher: Joanne Carvell
»Based in Poynton, Cheshire
»Vernon School is 150 years
old, though it has gone
through numerous iterations,
and has been a primary school
since 2009
»Type of school: Primary
»No. of pupils: 367
»No. of staff: 55
Vernon Primary School
Outstanding provision
We have maintained our “outstanding”
provision and continued to build upon
this success, consistently ensuring that
we retain the ethos and core values
that make our school unique. The key
elements to our success are:
»Visionary, forward-thinking
leadership – succession planning and
ongoing continuous professional
development (CPD) ensures the
development of every level of leader
throughout the school.
»A stimulating, vibrant and creative
specialised curriculum that inspires and
motivates children and teachers alike.
»Outstanding teaching, learning and
behaviour is maintained through
rigorous and meaningful monitoring
processes, strong mentoring and
CPD structures and the development
and implementation of innovative
learning approaches.
»Strong partnership with all
stakeholders (governors, parents,
carers, staff and children), as well as
external professionals. Our inclusive
practices deliver individualised
learning opportunities through a
collaborative approach.
»Strong links with key teams within
Cheshire East local authority – the
high level of support we have
received has been invaluable along
our journey.
»An engaging, inspiring, visual
environment that places emphasis
on creativity and immersive learning
Bespoke curriculum
Vernon Primary School’s curriculum
has an excellent reputation. Noted for
its richness and breadth by Ofsted, it
teaches children the highest levels of
skills, knowledge and understanding
that they will need to prepare them
for the world, within an inspiring and
innovative curriculum. High standards
across the curriculum are sustained
within government frameworks.
Our senior leadership team have
developed a specialised learning map
for each year group that provides
opportunities for the cross-curricular
approach we have always embraced
at Vernon. We ensure that children
see the connection between subjects
within a relevant context. This holistic
curriculum provides opportunities for
real, hands-on experiences to excite,
inspire and engage.
Teachers consistently deliver a
dynamic, structured, topic approach
which is continually adapted to
appeal to every individual, finding
their “hook” and exciting their
interest. This is revised regularly to
ensure that we respond to the varying
learning styles and needs of every
child. Outstanding lead teachers have
developed, refined and cascaded –
meaning they have shared across the
whole school – teaching techniques
to inspire our children. For example,
using innovative, immersive drama
opportunities as a tool for learning
across a range of subjects has had a
significant impact on progress and
attainment, particularly in writing.
Another successful technique is
“guided writing”, which has been
regularly developed and adapted to
reflect current curriculum expectations.
Many of these techniques and
strategies have been widely recognised
and celebrated beyond the school.
Displays are interactive
and vibrant
Music lessons
including drumming
take place weekly
We ensure that
children see the
subjects within a
relevant context.
This holistic
opportunities for
real, hands-on
experiences to
excite, inspire
and engage
Highlighting best practice
We pride ourselves on our visual learning
environment which not only provides
a platform to celebrate children’s work
but also offers a scaffold for learning
across the curriculum. Children take
ownership of display work and its
impact enables them to engage further
interest and enjoyment in their creative
study work across both core and
foundation subjects.
“Nobody Else Is Quite Like Me”
We create a rich, safe, stimulating
and purposeful learning environment
which enables every child to grow in
confidence and achieve their potential.
Individuals are valued, and their
unique, diverse qualities are nurtured
through secure, trusting relationships
between adults and children within an
open learning environment. We invest
in the emotional health and wellbeing
of individual children. As part of our
senior leadership team, a strong
network of pastoral care, including a
pastoral manager and counsellor, is
in place to ensure that children are
well supported both emotionally and
mentally. The pastoral team work
closely and effectively with our special
educational needs consultation team,
deploying a collaborative approach
to the implementation of early
intervention strategies.
We regularly track our children’s
progress over the course of their
journey through school, using our
unique, rigorous assessment system.
We not only adapt teaching and
learning strategies to ensure every child
makes rapid progress but also design
individualised programmes of support
and intervention to enrich and scaffold
within a supportive resource structure
our children’s learning, accelerating
progress towards individual targets.
Children take ownership of targets and
are given opportunities to develop skills
of self-assessment and reflection. Pupil
voice is integral to our everyday practice.
For example, our proactive school
representatives, such as our school
council and safeguarding committee,
all take responsibility for contributing
to areas of school development.
Embracing opportunities
We are now a “hub teaching school”,
working alongside Manchester
Metropolitan University to train
teachers for the future – an area where
we are keen to further develop. We
are proud of the outstanding teachers
and leaders in our school and the
coaching skills they offer both within
our school and beyond. One of our
aims for the future is to contribute
towards enriching the teaching
profession by sharing our techniques
for outstanding practice with openness
and transparency.
We will continue to work creatively
despite current external challenges
such as national budget constraints.
We will always stay true to our
ethos, always put the child at the
heart of learning and always strive to
develop innovative and individualised
strategies tailored to our children.
We are successful because we find
creative solutions to any challenge we
face, thinking “outside the box” and
embracing opportunities to enrich
every child’s learning experience now
and for the future.
We will always
stay true to our
ethos, always
put the child at
the heart of
learning and
always strive to
innovative and
tailored to our
Study books showcase
children’s work from
year 1 to year 6
Year 1 children sharing
their creative writing
with Sarah Kiely, deputy
head teacher