How Prestatyn High School is developing its Community Focused Schools approaches.
- Prestatyn High School, Denbighshire local authority
- 1446 learners on roll (2022)
- 23.5% of learners eligible for free school meals over a three-year average (2022)
Community Focused School approaches taken
Prestatyn High school recognises the importance of adopting Community Focused Schools approaches.
The school were aware of external factors having negative effects on their pupils’ learning, including the lasting effects of Covid and the cost of living crisis. This meant the school had to devise new ways of maintaining attendance levels and tackling anti-social behaviour.
This led them to build relationships and partnerships with other agencies in the community. They realised that the local community had to come together in order to foster an environment where young people feel confident and are able to thrive.
To help them achieve this ambition they appointed a Community Focused Schools Manager.
Reflecting on her role, Community Focused Schools Manager Jo Wynne-Eyton, says:
Together with our partners we aim to link the work we’re doing to themes that are important in the community; looking at youth provision and a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the community, looking at multigenerational work, looking at development of adult skills, looking at and supporting the community, the cost of living crisis. These are all so important and have a significant impact on children’s schooling and their attitudes towards school.
The development of young people and the impact they can have on the community is always at the forefront of the school’s agenda. As such, the school has introduced a range of opportunities for young people to develop their wider skills in collaboration with the community, including:
- An animal care area where small animals and some farm animals are kept, where students take responsibility for looking after animals
- gardens, where students can grow crops from seed to fruit allowing them to learn about nutritional diets and how to produce food affordably
Specific approaches to support multi-agency engagement
The school recognises the importance of ensuring children are supported both inside and outside of school. Within the school they have made a safe space for all students; the ‘Wellbeing Hub’.
This is a space where students can come if they are facing difficulties, where they feel comfortable talking to staff and can take time-out if required, while staying on school grounds.
In addition, Jo works with external agencies to ensure support is maintained when children are off-site.
She works with:
- local business owners
- third sector organisations
- local council
The school also makes great efforts to involve the students in new initiatives as they believe buy-in from the students themselves is essential to success. In advance of the summer holiday they conducted a school-wide consultation where it was found children wanted more to do during their time away from school and were particularly concerned about the affordability of certain activities.
Pulling local partners together in a roundtable meeting to address this challenge, the school and their partners were able to develop a rich programme that meets the needs of the young people.
The school also works with their third sector partners to create a funding rationale, enabling those partners to access funding that isn’t available to the school, but would be of benefit to young people who attend the school through services those third sector partners can offer.
With this open dialogue between the school and other agencies, it is easier to gain funding as a partnership, and initiatives can be organised more quickly.
Positive impacts of Community Focused School approaches taken
Through the school’s introduction of the well-being hub as a safe space for learners and increased links with mental health services, there has been an obvious impact on the children. This is evidenced by:
- improvements in attendance
- reductions in persistent absenteeism
- lower exclusion rates
Furthermore, the school has brought local services, businesses and third sector organisations, together. This has highlighted that working together can have wider benefits for the community, even if the school isn’t directly involved. These wider benefits impact on young people in the community as well.
Deputy Headteacher Claire Turner is very happy with the progress they are making:
It’s all about making sure that they're in the building, learning, developing skills so that they can go on to be successful in whatever they choose to do, with a community that is proud of them.
Next steps as a Community Focused School
The school will continue to develop partnerships with local agencies to ensure provision is available during the school holidays.
In consultation with parents, the school has identified the need for a parental support group. This will provide an opportunity for parents to learn new skills and benefit from the resources offered by community organisations who work in partnership with the school.
Headteacher Neil Foley says:
We look forward to a truly inclusive and cohesive community working together to bring about change because that's all we're here for, to improve the life chances and the lives of all young people.