Andrew Bocchi, executive head
We expect our children to leave Sybourn
as the best possible thinkers, achievers
and innovators imaginable
While it was founded in 1903, up until the past few
years, Sybourn Primary School in Walthamstow
had a poor reputation in the area, and was not a
local school of choice. Since 2013, the school has joined the
Lion Academy Trust, appointed a new executive head teacher,
Andrew Bocchi, and changed how it was perceived locally
through sheer determination and the establishment of a
“noexcuse” culture.
Joining the Lion Academy Trust
Our school is located in a deprived area of Waltham Forest, with our pupils
speaking over 50 languages; the majority of children joining the school are
well below the national standard for their age with a high percentage of pupils
speaking English as an additional language. We are community driven and
culturally diverse; prior to joining the Lion Academy Trust, however, these traits
were not effectively managed by the leadership team. This did not lead to good
outcomes for all pupils.
The Lion Academy Trust was approached to sponsor the school to address the
legacy underperformance and to rapidly improve the quality of education that
was provided by the school. A clear, strategic and robust plan ensured that poor
practices in both leadership and teaching were changed entirely. After an amazing
18 months, in June 2015, we had improved to such a degree that we were
recognised as a “good” provider of education by Ofsted, with the leadership team
judged as “outstanding”.
»Head teacher: Andrew Bocchi
»Year founded: 1903
»Location: Walthamstow,
Waltham Forest
»Type of school: Three-form
coeducational primary school
»No. of pupils: 670
»No. of staff: Over 100
»Ofsted report “good”
with leadership judged as
Sybourn Primary School
& Children’s Centre
Highlighting best practice
Our process and new values
The solution when the trust took
over was not to introduce a series of
complex schemes or programmes to
address the poor quality of teaching.
Instead, we adopted a singular, simple
philosophy: the use of quality first
teaching. The senior leadership team
focused on rapidly developing the
quality of teaching and learning across
all key stages and were relentless in
their approach to constantly improve
outcomes for all pupils regardless of
their starting points.
At Sybourn Primary we believe that
there is no one real “quick fix” to
any educational problem, so we have
developed three key methodologies
under the Lion Academy Trust. The
first is the use of a tailored and
individualised continual professional
development programme (CPD) to
generate and ensure good quality
teaching. Moving away from
traditional weekly inset sessions,
we decided that, instead, we would
assign every member of staff an
allocated senior mentor with a view
to developing their own personal
development programme every term,
tailored to their own unique and
individual needs. The supporting
mentor meets with them once a week,
and through a rich diet of supporting
strategies, ensures that the CPD is
consistently based on the needs of
The second of these methodologies is
targeted teaching, again very different
to historic teaching styles. All teaching
at Sybourn Primary is focused on the
needs of the individual pupils – there
is no “one size fits all” mindset in any
of ourclassrooms. Teaching is driven
from a robust analysis of data, and
lessons are planned and pitched to the
individual needs of all learners in the
class. This style of teaching ensures
that all pupils are being taught key
objectives matched to where they are
in their learning journey.
Finally, we strive to create a culture
of assessment-proficient learners:
teachers provide pupils with the
necessary skillsets to articulate their
learning process, and to identify which
areas of their education need to
develop further. This constant dialogue
and rapport underpins the entire
structure and ethos of the school – it
starts from the minute a pupil enters
the school, and continues to develop
through the years until they move on
to secondary education.
Beyond that, we work with a single
principle in mind: every child is entitled
to the best education, regardless of
their own individual starting points.
We want pupils to leave Sybourn
Primary as the best possible learners
We believe that
outstanding teaching
and learning must
be central to every
decision made and every
development introduced
We challenge and
develop our children
to become curious,
autonomous learners
who are inspired and
stimulated through a rich
and varied curriculum
that is appropriate to
their individual needs
There is no
“one size fits
all” mindset in
any of our
imaginable, and in exercising our
rich, varied curriculum appropriate
to individual needs, are inclusive and
caring in everything wedo.
Reports and statistics
When we attained our overall
“good” Ofsted rating in June 2015,
our leadership and management
was judged as being “outstanding”.
Teaching and achievement
were judged to have “improved
considerably” and the early years
provision is described as “well
resourced and stimulating”.
At the end of Key Stage 2, our pupils
show progress in mathematics and
writing which is in the top ten per cent
of schools nationally, with reading in
the top 20 per cent. Additionally, while
our number of pupils at the end of
year 1 attaining expected standards
in phonics was just 45 per cent only
four years ago, it is now at 90 per
cent – considerably higher than the
national average. High expectations
and a no excuse culture has made this
With a strong pedagogy and trust
agreed systems and processes, it
is clear to see that this relentless
approach to school improvement is
having an impact across all schools
within the multi academy trust (MAT).
Progress scores in reading, writing and
maths are well above average and in
the top ten per cent of MATs across
the country.
While we have had no real growth
in terms of the number of pupils
enrolled at Sybourn Primary, we have
seen it elsewhere. Concentrating
on eradicating the previous culture
embedded at the school before its
joining the Lion Academy Trust led
us to develop the skills of existent
practitioners; above all else, however,
it is important to note that expectation
has grown, and the general perception
of Sybourn Primary in the local area is
more positive thanever.
Going forward, we look to be
accredited as “outstanding” in
all areasat our next inspection. In
June 2015, our report showed that,
though the changes have been
monumental since the trust took over,
there is still the capacity for further
improvement. For us, the next steps
are about ensuring we provide the
best education for children in the local
area we serve, and making sure that
pupils leaving Sybourn Primary are
all “secondary ready”. We want to
provide everybody with the resources
and environment to perform to the
best of their ability, to succeed and
excel in everything theydo.
The general
perception of
Primary in the
local area is
more positive
than ever
A relentless focus on
improving outcomes and
life chances for all pupils
irrespective of context or