Binks Neate-Evans, Headteacher, West Earlham Infant and Nursery School, Norwich
West Earlham Infant and Nursery School, Norwich, is an infant and nursery school set in an area of high deprivation; they have typically 50-60% pupil premium, high SEN and on entering nursery 87% of children have significant language delay.
Within this highly dynamic community there is very high levels of social care involvement. The postcode is one of the highest nationally for prevalence of domestic and substance abuse as well as mental health issues, known as the ‘toxic trio’.
Getting parents to support and recognise the impact of some of the circumstantial challenges they face has required a strategic, kind and tenacious approach but one Binks and her team have succeeded in. As noted in their inspection report:
‘Parents describe the school as ‘brilliant’ and ‘really supportive’. One parent stated, ‘The school helps me to help my son with his behaviour and learning.’ Another commented: ‘I can’t fault the school, you can talk to anyone without them judging you. The teachers are very patient. I can see lots of positive changes in my children.’
This isn’t at the expense of the team, quite the opposite; in a recent county wide staff well-being survey West Earlham and Infant and Nursery was the highest scoring school.
It wasn’t always that way and Binks shared how she and the West Earlham team created such a community:
- Ground zero: clarity around what she could and couldn’t do with parents and the community.
- How she extended the school’s culture into the community and vice versa.
- Establishing and managing expectations for parental conduct.
- Building psychological resilience in her team to manage the impact of the challenges.
- How they help children and families in crisis.