Priory School has an impressive track record in supporting its students and was rated outstanding for care, guidance and support in its 2013 Ofsted report. We passionately believe that all children have a right to an education which is appropriate to their needs and abilities as individuals. We therefore work very hard to minimise any difficulties our pupils may be experiencing (temporarily or ongoing) which are preventing them from achieving and from enjoying their time at Priory.
Our aim is to give every single pupil the opportunity to experience success in their learning and to achieve as high a standard as possible.
Every pupil at Priory School is allocated to a tutor group with a dedicated Group Tutor. In most cases this teacher will stay with the pupils throughout their five years with us. Each year group also has a Year Leader and Pupil Support Worker to look out for the welfare of all of the pupils in their year group. They maintain regular contact with parents and they are there to celebrate successes and resolve any problems that may arise. Through a broad and balanced Personal, Social and Health Education programme, delivered by their Group Tutor, our pupils learn how to be successful and happy individuals.
Competition and team work are also important features of life at Priory. To this end all tutor groups are members of a cross age ‘team’ (Ark Royal, Endeavour, Victory, Invincible and Warrior). This encourages closer working together between different ages, for example on Sports Days, and in special team based curriculum events.
We hold high expectations of all of our pupils and the older pupils act as positive role models to our younger pupils. Each year a team of senior pupils is selected after a rigorous process and they are led by a Head Boy and a Head Girl. These pupils represent the school at many public functions, they arrange charity fundraising throughout the year and they have a number of special responsibilities in school.
Support for Gifted and Talented pupils forms a fundamental part of the school’s provision and contributes to the school’s ethos of inclusion. We provide an appropriate and differentiated curriculum, with suitable challenge and support in place, to enable each pupil who has been identified as gifted or talented to reach their full potential. Academically, pupils are supported to achieve their best possible examination results, with a view to equipping them with the GCSE/level 2 profile required for university admission. Pupils are encouraged to aim high and to consider, with confidence in their ability, university courses and possible future careers. Pupils have the opportunity to develop skills to be independently pro-active. Year 7 Gifted students are identified in the Autumn Term. They are learners who have the ability to excel academically in one or more subjects. Talented students are identified by teacher recommendation based on information such as playing for regional sporting teams, music examinations, performances and exhibitions. The register of Gifted and Talented pupils is available to all staff. It identifies the subjects in which pupils have particular strengths or talents.
In Key Stage 4, Gifted and Talented pupils are invited to join the Aiming for Academic Excellence Programme, co-ordinated by Portsmouth College with the Russell Group universities. This brings Gifted and Talented pupils together from across the city for regular meetings, workshops, lectures and visits.
The Learning Support Department is made up of a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) and a team of dedicated Instructors and Teaching Assistants who deliver tailored programmes of literacy support, work alongside certain pupils (or groups of pupils) in the classroom and from time to time withdraw pupils for short sessions of additional targeted support.
Priory’s teaching team takes responsibility for ensuring that class work is adapted to the pupils’ needs and abilities. Whilst most pupils are able to access the curriculum through this “differentiation” of class work, teachers will alert the Learning Support Department when, despite careful planning, a pupil still seems to be making little or no progress, has difficulty in developing literacy or numeracy skills, or has ongoing emotional/behavioural difficulties, sensory/physical problems or communication/relationship difficulties which are having a negative impact on their learning.
We in turn would want to develop a partnership with you, the pupil’s parents and carers, in order to create and encourage positive support for your child both at home and at school. By working together, parents and teachers can share knowledge, views and understanding, and build up a much more complete picture of a pupil and his/her needs. We always seek also to obtain the views of the pupil and he or she would be directly involved in any decisions about the ways in which we can support their learning.
We hope parents will always feel able to ask about our provision, express their concerns to us, and have their opinions listened to and valued.
We have a room that is dedicated to helping pupils who need some extra emotional support. Pupils can go if they need to talk privately to an adult, get some advice from their peers or relax and calm down when they are upset. The staff are specially trained and experienced in providing support to pupils who have additional emotional needs and they can offer one to one sessions or group support.
Our Emotional Literacy Support Assistant leads sessions to help pupils to more effectively manage their anger, improve their social skills and cope better with stress and anxiety. Our Educational Psychologist provides therapeutic support to help pupils who are having emotional difficulties and she links up with psychiatrists and counsellors to arrange specialist help if necessary.
All of our senior pupils are trained by the Educational Psychologist in ‘Active Listening’ skills so that they can help other pupils with their problems. Every tutor group in years 7, 8, 9 and 10 has a Priory Active Listener (PAL) allocated to them.
To support good attendance we employ a variety of rewards, but we feel strongly that a happy school life is the best way to ensure good attendance. We aim to work closely with our pupils and families on attendance and keep parents informed at all times. If your child is absent from school you will receive an SMS message alerting you to the fact. You can reply to explain your child’s absence. Attendance is closely monitored and early intervention is offered should any problems arise. Good attendance at school has a well established link to good progress and achievement. It is essential that pupils are in school and learning as much as possible. To support this, the target attendance for all pupils at Priory is a minimum of 96%. A child absent for one week in the year would equal an attendance statistic of 96%. Holidays are not authorised during term time in line with all Portsmouth schools. Absence of more than ten sessions in any year will automatically prompt a Fixed Penalty Notice which is issued by the Courts to both parents. Term dates are available on the school website.