Musical staff

Phoenix Elementary School helps children and staff thrive

We meet Miss K Geary who has been Principal of Phoenix Primary and Nursery School in Basildon since September 2014.

When I took over, the school was undersubscribed and we are now an oversubscribed three-tier primary school, with a 150-place crèche (75 children each session).

In July 2019, the school received an Outstanding Judgment from Ofsted across the board. As part of the expansion of the entrance from two forms to three forms, we had three new classrooms, a new library, remodeled three existing classrooms and had a multi-purpose play area installed.

Ofsted praised my vision for ‘Grow your own’. As a school, we work closely with training providers, with the vast majority of trainee teachers staying with us to launch their careers. For example, Mr. Irons and Ms. Merritt, two of my acting assistant principals, were trained here at school. The reputation of this amazing school has improved and evolved over the eight years I have been here.

Learning – youngster having fun in class.

What are the best aspects of your job?

I absolutely loved every minute of every day I spent here at the Phoenix. The kids are all great and our school motto is “Come in to learn, leave to succeed”. Oftsed recognized that children always come first and are the reason we all do our jobs. They are advocates and justifiably proud of their school.

My staff is a phenomenal team that goes above and beyond for the kids. Throughout the pandemic we have been open during all lockdowns and during the first lockdown we were open during all school holidays. We all wanted to make a difference in such a difficult time.

Seeing every child reach their potential and be the best version of themselves and developing staff at every stage of their career. A member of my team recently said that “Miss Geary recognizes the potential in people before they can see it in themselves.”

I recognize ambition and will always give my people opportunities to grow and support their careers – I am always very proud when my people take the next step in their careers and know that I have supported them in their progress .

Echo: Rest and play - the school's superb play facilities.Rest and play – the school’s superb play facilities.

What challenges did you encounter as a school and how did you work to overcome them?

One of the major challenges has of course been the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, the children have further developed their resilience and continued to make good progress in their studies and academic results, all while keeping a smile on their faces.

What events have you planned for the coming months?

We are gradually returning to ‘normal’ and further enriching children’s education through events such as World Book Day, Wellness Day/Week, Sports Days and Educational Tours, Maths Week , Arts Week, Science Week, Arts Council and with the other schools in our Multi-Academy Trust.

We are restoring our links with the local community, including our link with Evelyn May House.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and in line with our ongoing risk assessment, we have continued our KS1 and EYFS Christmas productions. Our wonderful parents were so happy these continued and were extremely complimentary.

We recently returned from a phenomenal school residence at the Hilltop Outdoor Center in Norfolk where we took 80 children for five fun filled days. Next year’s trip is already booked!

What subjects do children learn?

As a school, we strike a balance between traditional subjects, such as World War II, and emerging themes, such as the environment and sustainability. These are all covered by a survey-based curriculum in which children answer questions according to their theme. We also base our English lessons on high quality texts and, where possible, link them to our themes. Without a doubt, online safety and bullying feature regularly in our PSHE and IT programs to ensure that our children are as equipped as possible to protect themselves in the modern world.

Echo: School motto - Enter to learn, leave to succeed.School motto – Enter to learn, leave to succeed.

What initiatives has your school been involved in?

We recently renewed our Healthy Schools award and are in the process of renewing our Core Skills seal of approval this summer.

A very successful initiative has been the school’s continued support of the elderly through regular visits to the Evelyn May Care Home in Basildon.

Here, members of our Junior Board speak to visiting residents for supervised afternoon talks, reading sessions and carol and poetry presentations at Christmas and Easter.

Before the pandemic, residents of Evelyn May were also invited to the school for afternoon tea and coffee and to watch dance and music performances. Residents benefit greatly from the companionship and motivation it brings, and children learn much from the memories and experience of generations far older than their own.

Another initiative the school is proud of is its regular program of workshops for parents focusing on online safety. Prior to the pandemic, these sessions were held regularly on a quarterly basis and the school’s intention, going forward, is to identify and deploy parents themselves as online safety champions to take action. as mentors within the school community.

What is your most memorable moment during your time at school?

Achieving an outstanding Ofsted judgement, with a truly phenomenal report, which mentions the school’s inspiring leadership. The exceptional judgment was obtained in the short period of five years from the start of management.

What do you think the school does particularly well?

The school has been particularly successful in improving the academic achievement of children year after year. Indeed, the school’s academic achievement has consistently exceeded the national average for some time, such that in 2018 the school was found to be among the top 10 performing primary schools in Essex. The school is also considered a “Beacon of Excellence” within the Lee Chapel Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) of which it is a part. As such, our staff are highly effective in supporting our partner schools in a wide variety of areas such as teaching excellence, curriculum improvement, and identifying and developing future middle leaders. and superiors of tomorrow.

Tell us about everything that happens in your school?

Our school is currently taking local leadership in promoting psychological well-being within the school community. The school was one of the first in the country to win the Wellbeing Schools Award in association with the National Children’s Bureau in 2019.

The school has been particularly innovative in training four mental health first aiders on staff, who on a daily basis effectively support children and adults in their mental health. The school is also set to train and deploy children as mental health peer mentors; an initiative which, if successful, will be rolled out to other MAT schools and beyond. It is the school’s work in this area that has helped build community resilience during the pandemic, and so we remain committed to continuing innovation in this area.