Ashford Oaks Primary School

When did the school get involved with HeadStart?

Ashford Oaks Primary School has been involved in the programme as a feeder primary school in the Ashford district. I started working with Jane Marshall (the HeadStart lead, Pastoral Team Leader and DSL) in September 2018. The school had Peer Mentors (buddies) 15 x Year 5s trained in summer 2018.

What has the school implemented?

Peer Mentors

Peer mentors (buddies) have worked well in academic year 18/19. The lead staff member supporting the buddies (Vanessa Barnes) described the Buddies as fantastic role models to other children within the school who have made a difference to the school environment. The Buddies have 2 Head Buddies and they had a rota where a small group is ‘on duty’ each day. Grace met with the Buddies in November 2018 to discuss their role and how they could promote themselves in school, designing an assembly. The Buddies describe their role as helping other children and playing with them, alongside ensuring the playground is kept tidy and welcoming. One Buddy said that other children can relate to them and Buddying means children always have someone their age they can talk to. When the Buddies were asked about their role, they said it had been good experience and that their training was even having an impact at home through helping out more. They said Buddying encouraged all pupils to respect each other and their environment. A new cohort of Year 5 Buddies were interviewed by the existing Buddies and the lead staff member, and were trained by Matt (Participation Worker) ready for academic year 2019/20.

Safe Spaces

Ashford Oaks has developed 3 indoor safe spaces and 1 outdoor space (funded by the HeadStart grant and a Pay It Forward application). The 3 indoor spaces are staff offices which are very welcoming and calming for the pupils to use, they know they are spaces they can go to and ‘just be’ with a staff member there. The outdoor space is a gazebo for pupils to use and is monitored by the Buddies. The young people described the indoor spaces as “a space where you can sit down and feel really comfortable inside” and “it’s a stress-relief space”. They said “it gives us another space to go”. Staff said the children really value the space and they have recently introduced theming the space, at the moment it is jungle theme.

Staff training

Pastoral staff have attended Building Resilience and YMHFA training provided by HeadStart. Staff also attended Mindfulness training (non-HSK training) and deliver Mindfulness regularly with pupils and are also introducing Mindfulness for parents sessions.

Resilience Toolkit / Quality Mark

Jane and Vanessa have been the core Resilience Team who have strong links to the core SLT. The school action plan has been updated and actions implemented. Ashford Oaks is applying for the Kent Award (Quality Mark) in July.

Pay It Forward grants – Ashford Oaks have successfully applied for not one but five PIF grants, all led by pupils:
Safe Space (see above).

Community Fridge

A fridge for families to use (regardless of circumstances) filled with donated food from local organisations. This has worked very well and parents have fed-back that they have confidence that they’re not being judged when they use the fridge. The fridge has influenced wider schemes such as local businesses donating towels, bedding and hygiene products to families who need it.

  • Table Tennis Club – table tennis equipment for the Buddies to facilitate games. This is popular in the winter months especially.
  • Transition Project 2019 – pupils at Ashford Oaks have attended transition events with other primary schools before, and fed back that they would all like to look the same instead of being “divided” by their uniform. The Pay It Forward grant paid for t-shirts which every pupil could wear (for Ashford Oaks pupils, as well as pupils from Beaver Green, John Wallis and John Wesley primaries). Staff said the children got a lot out of the transition event at various workshops and made friends with children from other schools so feel “more confident” for starting secondary school in September.
  • Project Purple event – the PIF funding continued the community work taking place on a local field, to clean the space and make it usable for pupils, families and the wider community. Pupils said “we made benches, plant pots, bird houses and bug hotels. We also did litter picking”. They said how the space before was just for car parking and an empty space and now it is somewhere where children can play and adults can use too, they said there are not enough of these spaces in Ashford.

Overall, Ashford Oaks has fed back that the support, resources and funding opportunities from HeadStart has made such a difference to the school. They have fantastic safe spaces and have really valued having groups of year 5s trained by the HeadStart Team as Buddies. Ashford Oaks has been a very proactive school in terms of communication with Grace, applying for Pay It Forward funding, organising training for the Buddies and working through the Resilience Toolkit. They have implemented safe spaces, the Buddies and PIF funding opportunities which supports not just the pupils but the staff, families and wider local community as well.

Jane and Vanessa said they couldn’t thank HeadStart enough for the “support and dedication to Ashford Oaks.”