Interview with Kirsteen Craig Head teacher at The Kingfisher School
Kirsteen Craig, the new headteacher at The Kingfisher School in St Anne’s Park, took up her post at the start of Term 2 2016-17 – just as the primary became a building site. She describes how pupils, families and staff are coping with all the changes.
How were your first few weeks?
We spent three days moving from the old school into the modular buildings, where we will be until the new school is built. The staff worked really hard to get the classrooms ready. The nursery and reception children are staying in the old building and will be the first to move into the new one. The rest of the children are in the modular buildings and they really like them.The classrooms are much bigger, cleaner and warmer. Parents have had a look round too and been pleasantly surprised – these buildings are nothing like the draughty temporary classrooms of the past.
How is everyone managing the immediate challenges?
The children, staff and families have adapted really well and parents have been so supportive over the logistical dfficulties such as access. We have to close the gates earlier so the children can get into the modular buildings. It is not perfect, but we will work with it. Everyone is very positive – and extremely excited about the new build.
What are your initial priorities as the new head?
This school has had a number of headteachers over several years, so I have already been asked, ‘How long are you staying?’ I don’t know the answer to that, but I was in my last headship for six years and at the school before that for five. I am keen to get to know families and the community and am out on the playground most mornings and afternoons and am already visiting community groups and inviting people from the neighbourhood in to the school.
What are your ambitions for the school?
Things will change here. I want this to be the best school it can possibly be. We are judged by Ofsted as Requiring Improvement at the moment. We want to be rated Good as soon as we can. We need to improve our results, especially in Key Stage 2. We will start with a big drive on reading. We’ve made a library in one of the modular buildings and have a charitable donation we will spend on resources and we’ll also invest in staff training and in workshops for parents. We want to develop a culture that shows we are a forward thinking school.
What differences can families expect to see?
My expectations are very high. We will have a push on uniform and on behaviour. We also value the support that parents give to their children’s learning and want to help them get even more involved. Some of them say to us that the way subjects are taught is very different from when they were at school, so we will hold workshops to support them. We’d like the children to have more of a say too, so we will have a school learning council, which will not be just deciding about play equipment but will give pupils a voice in how they would like their learning to move on.
What has impressed you most about The Kingfisher School?
The school has a phenomenal choir. The graffiti artwork on the hoardings around the building site, sponsored by our builders Kier, is very impressive. I would like to see us continue this push on the arts, and there are many opportunities through our academy sponsors, CGS Trust. Children will sing in a concert at Colston’s Girls’ School at Christmas and take part in a big trustwide summer performance next year. The support from families is great too – they have reformed the PTFA and are planning a winter fair on December 15.
What other opportunities will open up for the children and their community?
Now that CGS Trust has become established and includes five primary schools, all overseen by executive principal Paula Shore, this gives The Kingfisher School access to a depth of expertise that can benefit our staff and children. On a practical level, we can use the trust’s minibuses, which enables us to take the children outside the classroom to extend their learning. I also plan to strengthen our links with the children’s centre, other nurseries and partner secondary schools in our area. I want the school to be the hub of the community. There are community facilities being built in to the new school – but we are not waiting for that space before we get started.
How will your career experiences help the families and community in St Anne’s Park?
I was the headteacher at Sea Mills Primary School before I came to The Kingfisher and I oversaw the move to a new building there, as well as leading the school to a Good Ofsted rating. Most importantly, when I arrived, people were not proud of Sea Mills – and now they really are. That is what I want for this school – to develop that pride in The Kingfisher and in the community.