‘Rocket crash’ at Doncaster primary school
A crashed rocket at a Doncaster primary school?
That can mean only one thing – it’s time for the latest ‘hook day’ at Carcroft Primary School.
Three three times a year, the school runs the special events – designed to hook the interest of the youngsters into the latest topic at the school.
It is one of a number of changes that have been brought in at the school, by its new headteacher, Kirsty Laing, since she took over the school, which has seen its SATS results improve nearly threefold over the last three years.
The space rocket crash was set up by creative teachers at the school on Owston Road, Carcroft, ahead of a school project on Neil Armstrong and the first moon landings.
Pupils were confronted with the mocked-up crash and tasked with working out what had happened, like detectives.
They were unleashed onto the task in laboratory goggles and white scene-of-crime style suits.
With the information discovered, they then wrote-up newspaper-style reports outlining what they thought had happened.
Miss Laing said: “We call it a hook day because it encourages and engages the pupils.The work on the moon landings follow on from what they have been doing.
“Our staff created all the bits of the rocket.
“Sometimes the hook days can be a trip somewhere or a day out, or someone coming into the school. This has certainly been one of the best ones for the younger children.”
Plans for the next hook day include pupils dressing up in Edwardian clothing styles, as if they were going for a trip on the Titanic.
They will be in different costumes to represent first, second or third class passengers, and will look at the passengers and the reasons that they were travelling, linking it in with all sorts of different subjects like geography and science.
It is one of the ways that the school is working to turn things around after being rated by Ofsted as requiring improvement.
The inspectors liked the curriculum, but wanted to see consistency in the quality of teaching.
Now the staff are embracing the new methods like the hook days. Work has also been done on attendance, which has increased as the school tries to make learning more attractive to the youngsters.
There has also been a lot of work on helping teachers make their lessons as full and engaging as possible, with lots of training opportunities available to them.
Miss Laing has been at the school since arriving as a deputy headteacher in 2015. She was subsequently promoted to headteacher.
Her inspiration is her own former primary school headteacher, Trish Campbell, who was in charge of Town Field Primary School when she was a pupil there.
The school has seen some major improvements in that time.
In 2016, the school was seeing a combined SATS figure of 19 per cent of pupils reaching the nationally expected standard. By 2016, that had risen to 36 per cent.
The 2018 figure was up to 55 per cent.
“The teachers have worked very hard to make those improvements,” said Miss Laing. “They have worked tremendously hard across the board.”
Carcroft Primary has also seen a lot of changes over its extra-curricular work.
They are currently developing a number of sports teams. Miss Laing feels it is not just about being good at sport – it is also about developing other important social skills like teamwork, supporting one another, and understanding each other.
They have started their first football team for many years, with new kits. They are bringing in specialist sports coaches from an outside agency to help the youngsters. Other sports will be run, along with things like dance and cheerleading
There is an aspiration at the school to develop competitive sport against other schools.
Miss Laing said: "We want the children to be really good at what they do, have resilience, and not to worry if they are not successful first time.
“We want to have children who don’t give up.”
The sports come on top of other activities, such as music teaching which sees pupils learn to play first the recorder, and then the violin when they’re a little older.
There is also a choir which took 40 pupils to the Young Voices concert at Sheffield Arena. It is part of the school’s work to raise aspirations.
Miss Laing is also building respect as an important characteristic, and the importance of how the pupils speak to one another. She feels the work that the school has done on respect has been an important factor in getting them to where they are now.
“It is about getting the foundations in there and developing the curriculum around it and you can’t do that without strong learning behaviour, she said.”