How is Surrey Square Primary School ‘more than a School’?

Big Education Journalism team, School 21

The definition of a school is “an institution for educating children.” (Oxford Languages), this discusses the fact that Surrey Square Primary School is more than that. They define themselves as ‘more than a school’. The London neighbourhood of Aylesbury is home to Surrey Square School. The aim of the school is to help students and parents with local problems, housing and obviously their education. They care about the students health and wellbeing and would do anything to make them feel accepted. They believe that more than a school is not just a results factory. 

Surrey Square Primary School creates an environment that teaches students to care for others, and show empathy. The school doesn’t have any rules, because, as said by their co-head teacher Matt Morden, ‘real life doesn’t have rules’.

(By ‘rules’ we mean a non-existent script detailing the way you should behave with other people, social codes, cues and morals, and not actual laws. Hint: Always follow actual laws)

This means that any misbehaviour is dealt with through talking to the students, helping them understand what they’ve done wrong, and using the school’s values to explain essential morals and lessons for later life. The Surrey Square values are responsibility, respect, enjoyment, perseverance, compassion and community. These values are the building blocks of the Surrey Square community which is made up of teachers, students, parents/carers and the school dog, Teddy. 

The school, as mentioned above, is located in the Aylesbury Estate in London which is made up primarily of council housing, and Surrey Square plays a huge part in providing food, clothing and support for families struggling with poverty, getting citizenship for their children, domestic abuse and other issues affecting the local area, as well as taking part in charity work, political campaigns, and doing work outside of school to help the community, especially those attending Surrey Square, and their families. For example, here is a story from Fiona, the family worker of the school:

There was a child in year 5 who teachers noticed wasn’t paying attention in class and was being unusually disruptive. The staff realised that all of his clothes were very small, and that he was very uncomfortable and was struggling to concentrate. They immediately knew that something was wrong, and when they asked the boy about his behaviour, they discovered that he, his mother and his little sister had been sleeping on a church floor, on mattresses, for weeks, because they didn’t have a right to council housing.

The teachers were shocked, and knew they had to do something about the family’s situation, so they informed the local council and got a referral, and the family were able to get a council flat.

Afterwards, the mother decided to start volunteering at Surrey Square, and it wasn’t long before she started working full-time in education.

It’s not just the teachers and staff who take part in this invaluable work: students are also encouraged to help to make changes in the community and explore relevant topics which they are passionate about.

Examples of this are the many incredible projects designed and directed by students, like a wonderful video created by a group of year 6 students about their favourite food (chicken and chips).

Surrey Square are also campaigning against SATS, which they believe should not take place as forcing ten and eleven year olds to stress and worry about exams which do not actually matter does nothing but cause unnecessary anxiety.

This is part of the school’s mission to make sure every student attending their school is happy and safe, and their focus on mental health overall. 

Every student, from Reception to year 6, is given a reflective journal which allows them to express themselves and write about their emotions and feelings. This gives students an opportunity to receive assistance for any difficulties they have, whether in school or out, without having to directly address teachers and staff and helps improve their wellbeing. 

The journals are tailored to suit each age group, meaning that journals for younger children involve more visual activities like drawing, while the older children do more writing, so every student has a way to reflect which they are comfortable with and which they enjoy.

In our opinion, Surrey Square is a really distinctive school where the kids correctly uphold the school values in order to maintain their strength. To ensure that there are no difficulties with the learning of the pupils, the school keeps a close check on the wellbeing of students,  parents and how families are doing in general. The school’s values help create an environment of learning and community, and Surrey Square is a renowned school for parents to enrol their children in since it makes it possible for those who are struggling to thrive with the assistance it provides.

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