The other week a woman who ran a puppet show at Moulsecoomb Primary said the school had a “big heart”.
The show was about children’s mental health and one of the activities was getting children to write a list of things that help them with their wellbeing.
At most other schools pupils said things like X-box, toys, theme parks, etc. But she noticed at Moulsecoomb it was “playing with my brother”, “going outside with my friends” and “time with my family”.
She got that the school is the beating heart of the community and really is a “compassionate, learning community”.
Over 40 organisations work in the school, all of them helping to enrich the pupils’ lives and support the children’s learning.
Just look at what was happening in one week alone: Brighton and Hove’s Reading Centre is based here, the library has been turned into a jungle, it’s a bike hub of excellence and pupils from across Sussex are taught the pre-history curriculum in the stunning school grounds.
We are home to Little Green Pigs space station, bringing literacy and storytelling to life, while Albion in the Community use the power of sport to provide high-quality interventions improving children’s English, maths, communication skills, teamwork, resilience and physical literacy.
Moulsecoomb Forest Garden uses outdoor learning and the power of nature to teach all children but especially those who struggle in the classroom. Finding a leech in the pond led to conversations about it and maggots’ healing powers!
Outdoor learning might be the new flavour of the month but the school has been ahead of that game for over a decade.
We are the only primary school in the city where our brightest pupils have the opportunity to go to Christ’s Hospital Independent School while Into University provides after-school homework clubs.
Sussex University will be moving one of its student teaching modules into the school. That will help us evaluate these interventions, along with Brighton Table Tennis Club moving into the back buildings, using sport and Ping Maths to teach pupils.
Where many schools would show the front door to some of our more challenging pupils, the school bends over backwards to be inclusive, going above and beyond to find a way of reaching and teaching them.
There are opportunities for parents to learn as well as regularly be in the classroom finding out how they can support their children at home.
When the Bridge Community Centre suddenly closed, it was the school that hosted an emergency meeting to find a way to keep activities going and now hosts some of the adult education facilities that would have been lost.
As a parent now community governor I work hard with others to make sure the school has the ability to keep this level of community support going.
This is despite losing a staggering £388,000 since 2015.
We have found funding from organisations like East Brighton Trust and the Fonthill Foundation so we can continue with school trips and are working with the Youth Hostel Association to give Year 6 “transition” holidays – as well as looking at giving families, who never get to have a break, a chance to go away with their children.
I haven’t got the data skills or number crunching that Ofsted obsesses about but, being in the school so often, I see how hard the teachers work and how much they care and how often governors are in the school observing, supporting, questioning and challenging to make it a better place and – what’s often left out in the measurements – seeing how happy the children are.
I understand that Ofsted is changing – looking for schools that offer a rich and varied curriculum.
Moulsecoomb Primary has this richness in bucketfuls and on this measurement is outstanding and a school where I am proud to say my children attended.
Warren Carter is the project manager of the Moulsecoomb Forest Garden Project and a community governor at Moulsecoomb Primary School.