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Elaine Primary in Strood is most improved school in Medway Towns

A school has gone from one of the worst performing in the country to the most improved in Medway.

Elaine Primary in Strood has been plagued with a decade of bad results, record exclusions and staff turnover problems.

Claire Brake, Key Stage 2 Phase Leader and head Dean Brewer with the Junior Leadership Team at Elaine Primary School, Strood Picture: Chris Davey
Claire Brake, Key Stage 2 Phase Leader and head Dean Brewer with the Junior Leadership Team at Elaine Primary School, Strood Picture: Chris Davey

But over the last two years head teacher Dean Brewer and his team have turned it around - with the help of parents and pupils.

The latest marks for Key Stage 2, where children are rated on their reading,writing and maths skills before moving on to secondary education, have soared from 35% in 2018 to 65% in 2019.

Mr Brewer said: "This is the first time in at least eight years that Elaine has performed at this level.

"Results had previously seen Elaine being one of the 10% worst performing schools in the country."

Mr Brewer believes the transformation has happened since being taken over by The Inspire Partnership Multi-Academy Trust in May 2018.

Previously, the Department for Education had expressed growing concern about the performance of the school which was then run by The Williamson Trust.

Mr Brewer said the school had a bad reputation, complacency had set in that they were known as "just a failing school".

He said: "Inspire could have come in and made changes, like the name and uniform.

"But instead they chose to build on relationships.

"We now have a zero rate of exclusions here. What does it say to a child - that your community doesn't want you?"

Mr Brewer said when he first arrived there was a "somewhat hostile" relationship between the school and parents.

He said: "They would shout from outside. So I decided to go out into the playground and talk to them and not hide in a building like previous leadership.

The Junior Leadership Team and their publishing display at Elaine Primary School, Strood Picture: Chris Davey
The Junior Leadership Team and their publishing display at Elaine Primary School, Strood Picture: Chris Davey

"After all, we are human and sometimes get things wrong. Now we have our parents on board and we have an excellent PTA.

"For every negative comment we get we have had to work twice as hard."

The school in Elaine Avenue has also had to deal with being in one of the most deprived areas in Medway.

The former head teacher of a school in Southwark, south London, he said: "We have the problems of London without the funding."

Having left his previous school with an "outstanding" rating, he cites one of the reasons he came to Strood was for a challenge.

He said: "I don't think of myself as a hero head. I have cried in the car on the way home, but that's mostly out of frustration.

Elaine Primary School, Strood which has turned around exam results to become "most improved" in Kent. Picture: Chris Davey
Elaine Primary School, Strood which has turned around exam results to become "most improved" in Kent. Picture: Chris Davey

"Our teachers want to work here when they could have chosen to travel up the road and get London weighting wages.

"It is not all about our little school, it is about being part of the Strood community which is why we get involved in things like litter picks.

"We are not here to gentrify Strood, but be part of it.

"Our commitment to improvement is a long-term project. We want Elaine to be the school of choice."

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