Former Horsendale Primary School pupil is now its new Head Teacher!

Amanda Smalley first walked through the doors of Horsendale Primary School in Nuthall in 1976 and loved the school so much, she’s still attending 44 years later, (albeit with a few absences in the interim!)

Former Horsendale Primary School pupil is now its new Head Teacher!

Amanda still lives near the school and says it has played an important role in her life. "I started Horsendale as a Reception child in the R/Y1 class, now the Y6 classroom, in 1976.  Mrs. Leatherland was my first teacher and Mr. Sharrard, the ‘Headmaster’. Not only did I attend, but my own children also came to Horsendale. As a parent, I really longed to work at the school and in 2013, the opportunity arose for me to join as a class teacher in Y5.”

Amanda’s career took off and she became Assistant Head, then Deputy and now the school’s new Head Teacher.

"As a child I was in the first class taught by Mrs. Howes, who many will remember as Miss Sweet when she joined the school as a newly qualified teacher.  As a testament to her, and how nice the school is, -she is still working at Horsendale as acting SENCo to this day!”

Mrs Kate Howes says she still remembers Amanda as a pupil. "Amanda was a fantastic pupil to teach. I always knew she would make a success of anything she chose to do. What a wonderful outcome; now head of Horsendale! Congratulations Amanda! A lovely person to teach and to work with.”

Amanda says early memories of the school include playing on the concrete ‘sub’ and playing ‘four corners’ – a game known only to Horsendale pupils ‘of a certain age’ says Amanda.

She says that from the age of 6, she knew she wanted to be a teacher, and 43 years later, -almost to the day, she was to become the school’s Head Teacher.

Amanda says the school is still a delightful and happy place, but that it has changed in many ways. "I loved to make the teas and coffees for the staff when I was a pupil, or answering the phone when Mrs. Barrett, our receptionist, wasn’t in! I can reassure parents that the school doesn’t still use pupils for their administrative skills in the same way!”

Amanda says she has received countless messages from well-wishers in the community. "My family and friends are all really proud. Past pupils and parents, those who know me in the Nuthall community, seem to feel proud that a Horsendale girl is now leading the school. 

"I still pinch myself sometimes as I walk around the playground or through the hall, recalling my many fond memories of being a pupil here at Horsendale.  I feel privileged to still be part of its story – a custodian for this part of the school’s journey.”

The school’s journey is indeed one to be proud of. In their recent Ofsted, the school was found to be Good with ‘outstanding’ attributes.

"We are all absolutely thrilled with our Ofsted report and so pleased that it has captured everything we offer as a school.  Our high expectations of learning and behaviour were recognised, and the report said our pupils have ‘captured this sense of ambition.’” That sense of ambition is now surely personified in the pupils’ own Head Teacher.

Inspectors also said there were ‘positive relationships throughout’ and that the children feel happy and safe, and that their ‘physical and mental well-being are catered for exceptionally well.’ 

Amanda says that the whole school community can be proud of the Ofsted report and she was pleased to read that parents spoke ‘warmly about the quality of education and care their children receive’.

She said, "I would like to thank the community and families for the support they give to us as a school – it is a strong partnership between home and school. We are always working hard to continue on our journey of improvement.  We want to offer our pupils the very best education and to make their primary school years some of the best in their lives. I know what this school gave me, and I want our children today to flourish at this school and enjoy it as much as I did. Maybe one of our current children will take over the Headship of the school one day in the future, we have lots of children who would make a great Head Teacher!”

In fact, there may be more news to celebrate in future as the Ofsted Inspector told the school that. ‘…There is enough evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school could be judged outstanding if we were to carry out a section 5 inspection now.’ 

For now, though, Amanda says she is planning the school’s next steps. "I know that all of the staff, children and community of Horsendale deserve to have the best possible school for their children. I think I can honestly say, it is a personal mission of mine, and one which I know the staff and The Flying High Trust support wholeheartedly. We intend to make this the happiest and best school, with the greatest opportunities for children, and to deliver the best possible start in their education.”

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