Devon school replaces English and Maths

28 June 2019, 00:00

A school in Devon has become the first to ditch the traditional English and maths and replace them with classes in things like yoga and relaxation.

For this week only the curriculum at Axminster primary has effectively been thrown in the bin.

While most other schools are being taught chemistry and geography it’s a different class here.

Not a SATS test in sight or any pressure with testing. What is being tested is the children’s wellbeing and mental health, where creativity is applauded and welcomed as 4 and 5 year olds make self-portraits out of twigs and leaves.

In the Sound Bomb class they are told to be quiet, close their eyes and relax. Many lie on the floor others watch and sounds resonate and emirate from the crystal or metal bowls placed in front of them.

The look in wonder as they are transformed into another world for 5 or 10 minutes maximum.

Out on the playground another group combing and petting miniature horses, learning how calm they are and how to treat them so they are not disturbed or placed into fear.

They readily interact, many have not seen or even touched a Shetland pony before in their lives.

The school is trying to get the children away from the day-to-day pressure - Many carry with a grudge on their shoulder into later life and secondary school where they are put under more pressure and many break.

Many do not have the life skills to cope with the onslaught of exams, new friends, new teachers and new surroundings.

The feedback from parents has been widely welcomed noticing a difference when their young scribes return home - a lot calmer and a willingness to write in their journals exactly what they have achieved at school that day.

There’s a lot of interest in what is going on in this part of Devon from academics and other schools keen to see the results.

If successful it could be rolled out to the rest of the UK let alone the South west.

The journey this school has undertaken in the last 3-years has been nothing short of remarkable.

In 2015, school results at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 were annulled due to maladministration during statutory testing.

In July 2018, in key stage one, the number of children reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths was 77 per cent, compare to 65 per cent nationally.

Headteacher Ross Minton said the 2018 results are a testament to the commitment of those at the school, after it had faced difficulties in recent years, with the figures in line with national results, with 96 per cent of the pupils passing the phonics test.

Now, teachers and staff look forward to another Ofsted visit, certain that the changes have been made to make sure their learners get the education they need not only to get on in life but also to achieve academic success.

And the parents are seemingly onboard and welcoming the changes - They now have confidence and trust in the school and leadership.

Events like this can only help further that progress.