On Friday, Plymouth Moor View MP, Johnny Mercer, was a panellist at the Plymouth Youth Council meeting in the City Council Chamber. He was part of a panel facing questions from up to 120 school children from across Plymouth (Including our very own pupils).
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If you could speak to every headteacher in the country, what would you tell them?
Posted on 20 January 2016 by Adam Medlycott – Specialist Researcher
Recently, The Key had the pleasure of hosting Mayflower Community Academy’s ‘ChOfsted’ team, a group of pupils committed to improving their school. They travelled to our office from Plymouth (after a very early start!) to find out more about what we do and get top tips from our events team on how to successfully plan and run their very own ChOfsted event.
Returning to my roots as a primary school teacher, I chatted to four members of the ChOfsted team (Anya, Amy, Mya and Lyra) to hear about this innovative school council … before they bombarded me with questions* of their own!
“Are you getting all this down, Adam?”
Can you explain what ChOfsted is and what you do?
Anya: ChOfsted is a team of pupils who work with the leadership team and the headteacher to improve the school. We visit different schools to share our ideas and to also learn how other schools are making improvements. If we see something we like, we take it back with us.
Amy: We even visited our local council and took part in a debate. That was exciting!
What have you done to improve your school?
Amy: I think we go on more trips now.
Anya: Trips are quite expensive but we managed to raise £426 to visit The Key. We went to teachers and our families and asked them to sponsor us. My dad was sponsored to wear a hat at work saying ‘I’m a loser’. That was funny.
How did you become a member of ChOfsted?
Anya and Amy: First we had to fill in a form and then had an interview with the headteacher. It took all day! They asked us what we would do to make life at the school better. We also had to say what we thought about our school marking system, called PERMS. It stands for praise, enhancement, response, measure and share. Some of us made PowerPoint presentations as well.
What makes a good teacher?
Amy: A good teacher is someone that you can rely on.
Anya: Someone who is patient and someone who chooses different people in lessons so everyone gets to speak – who doesn’t just ask the same people with their hand up all the time. It’s important to give someone else a go – even if they might not get the answer right!
Mya: Someone who you can have a joke with and who will be there for you, but isn’t your friend.
Lyra: A good teacher is someone who will look after you if you are not feeling very happy.
What do you think it must be like to be a teacher?
Anya: I think it must be very stressful especially when children keep talking and I think it must be hard when children don’t listen. I would like to be a teacher when I am older though.
What was your journey like to our office and how did you feel?
Amy: I was really excited as I have never been on a train to London before. I couldn’t sleep!
Anya: I went to bed early so I didn’t get too excited.
Mya: I didn’t sleep very well as I kept checking the clock. My mum was quite nervous though. She kept waking me up because she was so nervous!
Amy: It took us 3½ hours to get to London. Then we had to come on the Tube. It was very busy and we all had to hold on very tight. Nobody spoke … well, except us of course!
What do you think it must be like to work in London?
Mya: I think it would be very hard. It would be like having to juggle three balls and I can only juggle two, so I would find it very difficult!
Amy: Yeah I think it would be hard too as there are more customers in the shops.
Anya: Yes, it is very busy. People are always rushing about.
If you lived in London, what do you think you would do on the weekend?
Amy and Anya: We would do A LOT of shoe shopping. I think the boys would just stay in and watch football, and maybe go to Sports Direct too.
Lyra: I would go on a boat on the river and go on the London Eye too. I haven’t been on the London Eye. In fact, I haven’t ever been on any eye!
Finally, if you could speak to every headteacher in the country, what would be one thing you would tell them?
Amy and Anya: Make sure that you listen to the pupils. Sometimes headteachers are too busy and don’t have the time to listen to you. Even if they could just spend one minute listening, that would be great!
*The girls asked me whether “we have lots of laughs in the research team” and challenged me on how our researchers could “work even more quickly”. Anya thought we all needed “flaming fingers” so that we could type our answers faster!
Pupils at Plymouth primary school lead the way in Ofsted inspections
By Plymouth Herald | Posted: March 07, 2016
By ALEX WOOD @MrAlexWood
Pupils at Mayflower Community Academy, in Plymouth, are leading the way in Ofsted inspections
PUPILS at a Plymouth primary school have been putting their leadership skills to the test by working alongside Ofsted inspectors and senior staff.
Seven pupils at Mayflower Community Academy, chosen by Headteacher David Sammels, have been selected to become members of their Children’s Ofsted Leadership Team (ChOfsted).
Since being elected, the students have debated how the academy could develop in the future and learnt the Ofsted inspection framework.
Mya, who is year four, said: “We had to produce presentations about what made our academy special and how we planned to enhance it even further.”
The talented ChOfsted group have agreed to design and host Mayflower’s first ever pupil leadership conference, aimed at students from across the city.
“We plan to work with Mr. Sammels, his leadership team and experts from around the country to shine a light on the best bits about our academy as well as tackle areas that we feel could be enhanced further,” Anya, from year five, said.
“We will use the Ofsted framework to measure how effective we are and we want to collaborate with others to discuss what makes outstanding learning.”
Curtis, who is in year four, added: “We plan to invite pupils form across Plymouth to join us at Mayflower to debate the Ofsted topic, ‘What makes effective feedback and marking?’
“We will also go onto research this question with the support of experts from Plymouth University.”
Next on the agenda for the bright youngsters is working alongside genuine Ofsted inspectors to audit mark the school.
The pupil leaders plan to gain pupil, parent and staff feedback on what makes an outstanding school before publishing their findings in a report.
Mr Sammels commented: ““Mayflower has such talented pupils. They are a credit to our academy. The fact that they are already interested in becoming leaders gives everyone hope for the future.”
Empowering pupils to improve their school
Empowering pupils to improve their school
Posted on 23 January 2015 by Sam Green – Business Development Manager
I visited Mayflower Community Academy in Plymouth recently for what I expected to be a straight-forward meeting with headteacher David Sammels. However, I could tell from the off that this energetic headteacher was keen to give me the full ‘Mayflower experience’.
At the end of our meeting, David suggested that we go for a walk around the school. As we explored the site I was struck by three things:
Every classroom exuded the expertise of the teaching staff, from the carefully planned layout, to the engaging display boards, to the varied and exciting lessons I saw in progress.
Each pupil we encountered wanted to share something about their day with us. From the boy returning to the support centre proudly showing me his fireman’s outfit, to the year 4 students who needed Mr Sammels to arbitrate their playground dispute, I was impressed by the friendly and open nature of this school community.
With parents joining pupils for early morning support with their reading, and a team of parents’ association volunteers wrapping hundreds of presents ahead of the Christmas Fair, I was inspired to see a school making such an impact on the whole community.
However, the most impressive part of my visit to Mayflower was yet to come. As David and I returned to his office, he paused to speak to a year 6 pupil, asking him to round up three or four other members of the ‘Chofsted Team’. David explained that the school has a team of pupils who work alongside the senior leadership team on all aspects of school improvement, and that these pupils like to interview visitors to the school about their impressions.
I ended my morning at Mayflower with four members of this ‘Children Ofsted Team’ – children with an intense and intellectual interest in their school and how it can improve. As we chatted, they asked me what I thought of their school, what they did well and what enhancements they could make.
Their visible excitement as new ideas came to light was delightful, as was their pride in the many positive impressions I was able to share. I left Mayflower inspired by the impact which can be generated when excellent teachers empower their pupils to work alongside them to improve their school.