2013 has been a testing year for all associated with Buckholme Towers. From the euphoric ‘high’ of pupils achieving outstanding results in the 11 plus grammar school exam, followed by a momentous ‘low’ when a fire devastated the school building. But the positive spirit of Buckholme hasn’t been dampened and 2014 is shaping up to be the best year yet.
Iain Robertson, headmaster at Buckholme Towers School explains why.
“This year has certainly been a game changer for all involved with the school. When the fire hit in March, we had to take a step back and quickly decide how we were going to get back to normal with minimal effect on the children’s education. When something as big as this happens, you soon learn that it doesn’t just affect the pupils or the staff – a whole community is turned upside down.
“Temporary classrooms were set up in the hall at Parkstone United Reformed Church and a safe pathway from the back of the church to Buckholme was constructed so the children could avoid the busy road. A local building firm pulled out all the stops to have the school refurbished within an incredibly short timescale, while also endeavoring to make it a better and more effective learning environment.
“Looking back, the pupils only missed two days of education which we are hugely proud of considering the circumstances. Classes soon got back to normal and we started the term in September with enhanced facilities, additional safety features and a crowd of eager children who were happy to be back in their favourite classrooms.
“Every few years Ofsted, the official body for inspecting schools, makes unannounced visits to those providing education to ensure teaching standards are met. It just so happened that they visited Buckholme soon after the fire when we were operating out of the local church. This was a worrying time for us due to the recent traumatic events and there were some statutory requirements that we knew we couldn’t meet due to the circumstances. However, the staff pulled together with the church community and we achieved a judgement of ‘good’ with the inspector commenting, “Pupils leave the school with attainment that is consistently above or well above national average in English and Mathematics.” As you can imagine we were all delighted with the results.
“Two months following the fire we sadly lost our well-loved caretaker Mr Alan John. Mr John worked at Buckholme for 15 years and his passing was the end of an era to all who knew him. To ensure his memory lives on, we dedicated the school hall to him and his wife Heather, who also worked at Buckholme for many years. The whole school community shares many treasured memories of their time with us.
“Pupil admissions to the school are at an all-time high, while staff turnover is minimal, as usual. In recent years we took on experts in IT, science and art, which is a huge benefit to the children and works well alongside our new state of the art facilities. Our New Year resolution is simple, to continue providing the highest standards of education and ensure that the individual needs of pupils are met.”