Newton Farm Nursery, Infant and Junior School in Harrow, north west London, gained the highest average points score this year after 90% of year 6 pupils gained a Level 5 – one above the standard expected of the age group in both English and Maths tests. The grade was achieved by 94% of the pupils who took the English test. Amazingly, this success rate has been achieved even though English is not the first language for many children in the 266 strong student body, who are taught by 15 full time staff, supported by 17 full time teaching assistants.
Mrs. Rekha Bhakoo, headteacher of the school, attributed the success to ”high academic standards”, adding: “The school provides a really well-rounded education while the foundations are absolutely rock solid.” Mrs Bhakoo, a graduate of Bath University, has been head teacher at Newton Farm for 20 years. Next year she will take on additional responsibilities as the executive head of the UK’s first Hindu school, the Krishna Avanti school, which is located in the same London borough of Harrow.
Why did you decide to go into the teaching profession?
I went into the teaching profession because I wanted to make a difference to young lives by ensuring that all children have access to a high quality education and that they have a fundamental self-belief that they can succeed irrespective of their backgrounds.
Give us a brief description of the demographics of the school. Student? Community?
The school is a popular, over-subscribed and larger than average one-form entry school where more than three-quarters of all pupils are from minority ethnic groups, most of whom are from Indian or other Asian backgrounds and where the majority speak another language at home.
Tell us about the reasons for the success of your school in raising student achievement?
The school has many features and practices which ensure that it raises the attainment and achievement of all its pupils and these are some of the most important factors in this equation:
Newton Farm School has been improving every year for over a decade. Will you feel a certain pressure to continue this trend of good results?
I feel that a key difference between being a good school and being an outstanding school for over a decade is that as an outstanding school we go beyond the tight quality controls towards the quality assurance of a self-confident, self-critical community in which learning is interactive an permanent.
Therefore, if the foundations, ethos and core principles of learning are hard-wired with in the school, we will continue to achieve outstanding outcomes for our pupils and ensure that they have the very best provision and environment for learning.
What are the things you enjoy most about being at Newton Farm School?
The children are what I love about being at Newton Farm School! They are so enthusiastic about their learning and they are always eager to share their learning experiences. Working with such a dedicated and committed team gives me such a buzz. They are open to new ideas and there is such a collegiate culture which enables ideas to be shared unselfishly. Newton Farm is a remarkable educational establishment which nurtures everyone and to be working in such an environment is a real privilege!
How does Newton Farm School compare with other schools you have worked in?
We support a lot of other schools and work with them to raise standards and the one thing that I have noticed is that there is a real “can do” approach to everything at Newton Farm. Risk taking to improve the quality of the provision and outcomes for pupils is a key difference between Newton Farm and other schools.
For those students hoping to study at, or already studying at Newton Farm School what advice would you give them?
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing what would that thing be?
Never underestimate the influence you have to make a change.