Last Friday I visited Allens Croft Primary School, in my constituency, to present a Platinum Artsmark award. I listened to children read poetry they’d composed while learning about refugees as part of their school of sanctuary activities. I saw their new arts base where children are encouraged to play musical instruments and develop their singing and drama skills. I was shown around by Logan and Mia, two year 6 pupils who impressed me with their enthusiasm and clarity as they explained the importance of creative arts. Their school and parents must be very proud of them.
There’s been a school on this site since 1921 when it was known as Pineapple School and many of today’s pupils have parents and grandparents who attended. By the late 90s the school was showing signs of wear and tear after years of neglect both to the fabric of the building and the inadequate resources with which staff were expected to manage. At one stage it was listed as the third worst school in the country.
Under the leadership of Sandra Walton, whose efforts won her the accolade of Headteacher of the year, and then the brilliant Johanne Clifton, the school made rapid strides. It engaged with the local community and businesses and prioritised parental involvement in their children’s education. In 2007 it was rebuilt as one of New Labour’s successes, ensuring that children from deprived areas received a good education in a quality environment.
Today under the leadership of Paula Weaver and her highly motivated staff and dedicated governors, it continues to go from strength to strength. Like many schools, at present, they struggle with budgetary pressures and a government that rarely provides enough support.
Allens Croft is a model for what the next Labour government must achieve. We need dedicated teachers and appreciation of the arts to encourage creativity and develop talent. Our goals must be quality buildings, respect for teachers and aspiration for all our children. Allens Croft is a wonderful school. I wish it every success in the years ahead and I want a government that supports schools and values education for all our children.