Langney Primary Academy in Eastbourne pride themselves on their motto; ‘Active Body, Healthy Mind.’ The idea that exercise and being active allows you to be not only healthier with regard to mental health, but also in a better headspace for learning and development – something which is of course a crucial focus for primary education.
The academy has been run by Swale Academies Trust, and according to Gov.org, ‘academies receive funding directly from the government and are run by an academy trust. They have more control over how they do things than community schools.’ Swale Academies Trust is a set up who run six secondary and ten primary schools in East Sussex, and since 2018, put the health of their pupils at the forefront of their focus. Mr Benjamin Bowles, the Head of the school states “Healthy living is fully promoted to support physical and mental wellbeing,” showing that this view of putting health at the forefront of education is shared within the staff of Langney Primary, and comes from the top down.
Langney Primary have found recently that this focus has been especially beneficial during the lockdown period, which has taken up the vast majority of the previous two school years. Throughout lockdown, although they’ve been stuck at home, pupils have been encouraged by the school to continue their emphasis on health and fitness, and to keep active rather than being stuck sitting inside all day. Overtime Online spoke to a member of staff who told us; “During the coronavirus pandemic, it has been tough for younger pupils who may not necessarily understand why they are unable to see their friends and attend their school, so being interactive with them and allowing them to be busy and keep active is a great way to keep their spirits up and help them to stay happy in these tough times.”
The school had also previously held a focus on an advanced computing curriculum, having put a large investment into the technology in the school, stating that ‘this prepares the pupils for the ever-increasing digital world.’ A statement which would become much more relevant than they could have ever known, with lessons being taught via the Zoom app as well as Microsoft Teams due to the school being closed for the majority of the academic year, and throughout the government imposed coronavirus lockdown. This investment in the digital aspect of the world gave the pupils of Langney Primary Academy previous experience with using computers, which was no doubt a big help to them after having been given no option but to use them now. This investment in technology, and emphasis on preparing the pupils for an ‘increasing digital world,’ paired with the focus on staying active, and the school motto ‘Active Body, Healthy Mind’ has meant the school has been able to manage better than most in a time where it was almost impossible to give the students a suitable degree of education and interaction.
One teacher at the academy told Overtime; “It’s so important for the children to have interaction with not just their friends and classmates, but also us as teachers.” Going on to mention that “without the ability to have video calls and lessons regularly they would have missed out on a huge chunk of a very developmental stage of their lives.” Clearly, the school would have struggled a lot more in delivering a sort of education to their pupils without the easily accessible video-conference apps.
The school issued this ‘vision statement’ in March 2019: ‘At the forefront of education, our vision is to provide opportunity and excellence in all branches of learning. By creating a flagship school that is a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in all scores of disciplines, academic and beyond, each unique child’s potential is explored and natural talents discovered. At Langney Primary Academy our vision is to uphold the balance between EXCELLENCE (standards) and the ENJOYMENT of learning. Our school ethos places emphasis on physical, social and emotional health to ensure a healthy body and mind for our pupils, parents and staff.’ Something which they would then go on to reiterate in their ‘Langney Keeps Learning’ (LKL) Protocol which lists activities which can be done outside of school to continue their education. This includes extra activities such as spelling, daily reading for pleasure, and completing tasks set on MyMaths. Langney Academy state that the ‘general aims’ of the LKL Protocol are: ‘To encourage a positive attitude to learning, to give pupils the opportunity to continue developing the skills they have learnt in school, to raise attainment to motivate learners To provide opportunities for parents/carers, children and school to work in partnership To ensure progression towards independence and individual responsibility, and to support children with transitions across key stages and into other educational settings.’
Alongside all of this, pupils are also provided with their own Google account, which provides access to the online ‘Google classroom’ where they can access documents, emails, and a calendar. If they are unable to attend the school in person, this is what they use to stay up to date with the rest of the class.
Now that the pupils are back in attendance, the school has bookmarked a couple of events, designed to continue the health and fitness idea, but also to help the pupils get back involved directly with the school and their classmates. A ‘Big Pedal Day’ on the 28th April 2021, in which pupils are given healthy snacks if they cycle or scoot to school, and a ‘Race for Life,’ a charity running event aiming to raise money and keep the pupils active. Langney Primary Academy, a school with a bit of a different outlook on education, a school who place emphasis on the health, fitness, and mental wellbeing of their pupils, and a school who have persevered, via their school motto, through the most difficult period in recent history.