Prizegiving 2015
A CACOPHONY of drums brought a dramatic year to an end for Northfield School in Blackbird Leys as it celebrated Ofsted success and pupils’ progress.

About 360 awards were handed out in a ceremony at the Knights Road secondary school to students with behavioural problems from across Oxfordshire.

Guest of honour John Coghlan, the drummer from Status Quo, presented 11-year-old pupil Jack Badby with signed drumsticks after an impromptu “drum-off”.

Jack said: “I was nervous but excited at playing in front of the whole school and John, as I did not know he was coming.”

Boys aged 11 to 18 were commended for their hard work and achievements, spanning from improved reading to first aid certificates.

Headteacher Mark Blencowe, 54, said: “It was probably the best end-of-year awards we have ever had.

“Jack played an AC/DC track. It was completely spontaneous and brilliant, and first time we have had the whole school up on their feet dancing.”

Last Thursday was the culmination of a rollercoaster of a year for Northfield, which caters for 60 students who have had problems in mainstream schooling.

An Ofsted report published last month saw the school’s Ofsted rating rise from “requires improvement” in May 2013 to “good” in all areas.

Following a visit on May 14 and 15 this year, lead inspector Barnard Payne wrote: “The curriculum provides a good variety of opportunities for students. It promotes enjoyment and personal success.

“There is particularly strong provision for art, music and physical education.”

Mr Blencowe said: “With the numbers we have, we put together very bespoke packages and help the young people with their learning in lots of different ways.”

It has been a year of highs and lows for Northfield. Last October, the school’s 12-space accommodation block was closed due to the spiralling costs of fixing its health and safety measures. Mr Blencowe added: “It was a very old building and was going to need extensive work. The bill just rose and rose.”

After the block’s closure, after-school clubs kept students occupied until about 8pm and new solutions are being sought for next year.

In the meantime, staff will now be focusing on how to improve attendance at Northfield, reportedly the key to an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade.

When asked if he thought this was achievable for the school, Mr Blencowe, who has worked there for 26 years, said: “Definitely.”
Acting Headteacher: Mr. Powell

Northfield School
Knights Road
Blackbird Leys
Tel: +44 (0)1865 771703
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