Arc School Old Arley staff, pupils and parents have given the warmest of welcomes to new headteacher Emma Green who started as Headteacher in August this year and who has already been delivering exciting changes designed to fulfil the school’s mission to look at, and deliver for, the ‘whole child’.
The school had big shoes to fill after former head Vicky Bates was promoted to Regional Educational Director. Fortunately Emma’s past roles, including 20 years in SEN Colleges, SEN schools and care homes, mostly at leadership level, make her immensely qualified to take up the helm at a school which has one of the strongest academic records in Kedleston Group and a loyal and long-serving team.
Emma’s vision is about “meeting need” as she puts it. She says:
“I always wanted the most vulnerable children because the rewards are greatest. I see the same in my team here: whatever that child needs, that is what we give them.”
Emma has not been afraid to make changes. A new timetable and new groupings were introduced this term. She explains:
“We recognise diagnoses but also look at individual needs. A child is a child, and a diagnosis shouldn’t define anyone. We redefine achievement – it’s not the same for every child at every point of their journey. For some of the children who start here staying 10 minutes in a classroom takes determination, bravery and self-management. So we celebrate baby steps. And we group by stage, not age, because that helps children socially – no one wants to feel behind their classmates – and it improves results for everyone over time.”
Academically the school boasts impressive past results, but Emma is keen now to develop the therapy offering further since “that supports education. That is the best way to improve life outcomes for the children in our care, so that is what we will do.”
The physical environment is also something that Emma is looking to evolve, because of the impact this has on children’s sense of comfort, safety and being valued.
Reflecting on her first few weeks in post, Emma is clear that as fortunate as Arc Old Arley is to have her, she also is appreciative of support from the team, from former headteacher Vicky Bates and line manager Heather Millington, and from headteachers from across Kedleston. She says:
“It has been such a friendly welcome. The staff here have a passion you can feel. Someone said to me, ‘you’re not a typical headteacher’, and it’s true that I’m very open, very honest, and I work with others to get it right, instead of telling them what I know. That said, I have already been asked to share some of my experiences and skills with other heads at Kedleston through the Headship groups. We work together and we learn together, and that’s a huge benefit to us in being part of the group, and of course it’s the children who get the results of that: everyone working together to deliver the very best.”