Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre

A Voluntary Controlled School: Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches in Leatherhead.

website: http://www.leatherheadtrinity.surrey.sch.uk/

News from Leatherhead Trinity - from the March 2013 Parish Magazine

The big news is that Leatherhead Trinity achieved a GOOD Ofsted rating when the Inspectors paid a visit on 30-31 January. This is a huge achievement, reflecting a lot of hard work and dedication by staff and governors. It represents a step up in the school’s ranking, at a time when a tougher assessment framework means that many schools have found themselves heading in the opposite direction.

The report is on Ofsted’s website and is well worth a read. Highlights include:
* “Teachers have high expectations of what pupils can achieve. Pupils respond enthusiastically and take a pride in their achievements.”
* “The school environment is safe and welcoming. Pupils’ behaviour is good.”
* “They are highly enthusiastic learners.”
* “Behaviour in assemblies was particularly impressive as pupils sang enthusiastically, participated well and listened attentively to teachers and other pupils.”

Looking ahead, World Book Week begins on 4 March. Pupils are taking part in a Sponsored Read and there will be other special events to celebrate books and the pleasure of reading.

On 27 March (Maundy Thursday), the whole school will take a break from their regular timetable for an “Easter Pause Day”. This is a day when all the children are given time and space to reflect on the Easter story, in a way that is appropriate for them. It’s fantastic that the school provides this space to support the children’s spiritual development and we pray that every child will find something new to ponder, whatever their faith background.

TriPod takes place from 6.30-7.30pm on 6 March and is an opportunity for friends and church members to meet at the school, alongside staff and parents, to swap news and offer prayer for the life of the school. Do join us if you can.
Jane Smith

News from Leatherhead Trinity - from the January 2013 Parish Magazine

Leatherhead Trinity Hits Town!

The choirs of Leatherhead Trinity have been out and about during December, getting involved in the town's Christmas celebrations.

Carolfest was the name of the Mole Valley Chairman's carol concert, held for the first time in Leatherhead Parish Church. The Junior Choir of Leatherhead Trinity was invited to take part, alongside the brass players of Martineau Brass and two adult choirs: one from Güglingen in Germany; and the other all the way from Dorking!

The children were crisp and smart in their uniforms and really did themselves proud. They sang five items, with a lovely mixture of the poignant (In the Bleak Midwinter) and the jolly (Jingle Bells!). Their singing was tuneful and enthusiastic and they looked like they were having fun. As is traditional on these occasions, many people felt that the children stole the show!

On Saturday 15 December the Infant and Junior Choirs combined to perform the Nativity in the heart of the Town Centre, as part of the programme of entertainment put together by Churches Together in Leatherhead.

Leatherhead Trinity is very lucky to have several teachers who are dedicated enough to train the choirs, as well as giving their time for both these performances, which were well and truly outside school hours. Huge thanks to Alison Haining, Lindsay Boswell, Jennie Coles, Gail Brewer, and everyone else that was involved.
Jane Smith

News from Leatherhead Trinity - from the December 2012 Parish Magazine

The children at Leatherhead Trinity have been enjoying Maths week, during which they were entertained by a visit from "Mathmagic" - an interactive show which got both children and teachers thinking! Other activities during the week included visiting local businesses to find out how maths is used in the real world, playing a trading game to find out about global economics, dressing up in mathematical costumes and planning and running stalls at the hugely successful Enterprise Fair.

The school is also celebrating academic success, particularly in reading. The youngest children did really well in last summer's new phonics test for pupils in Year 1, with Leatherhead Trinity's results beating both the Surrey and National averages. At the opposite end of the age range, the Year 6 reading test results were in the top 5% of Surrey schools!

Forthcoming dates:

Children from Leatherhead Trinity School will be providing Christmas entertainment in the Swan Centre on Saturday 15 December, 10am to 11am. Do come along and support them.

Christmas Church Services: Parents and Church members are welcome to join the infant children on Wednesday 19 December, 1:45pm at LMC, or the older children on Thursday 20 December, 1:45pm at Leatherhead Parish Church.
Jane Smith

News from Leatherhead Trinity - from the August 2012 Parish Magazine

The Summer Fair was very well attended on 24 June. As always, the school greatly appreciated the help from church members who served refreshments. Rev Graham Osborne looked suitably embarrassed to have won the “guess the weight of the cake” competition. And the rain held off just long enough to allow the Fair to go ahead as planned.

Sports Day on was an epic three day affair, with separate events for the nursery, Reception and older children. At Woodvill Road on 11 July, we were inspired by the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, at which flags of all nations were marched around the track, followed by our very own Torch Relay and inspiring songs from the whole school.

There were sprints, relay races, egg-and-spoon and sack races, and also lots of fun events for those who are less competitive. The children looked fabulous in their new T-shirts in House Colours. Dragon House swept the board, winning the KS1 and KS2 events overall. Medals and trophies were awarded for Sportsmanship as well as speed … and it was noticeable that there are some very talented sprinters in the school this year.

As the end of term approaches, preparation for moving on has begun in earnest. At the beginning of July, Year 6 children spent a day or two at their new secondary school and all the younger children meeting their new teachers and spending a day in their new classrooms. New starters have been invited into the school for story time, to introduce them to the Reception classroom and teachers. And, as ever, they look very small indeed!

End of term Church Services took place at Christ Church and Leatherhead Parish Church. The Churches presented all Year 6 pupils with “It’s Your Move” books, published by Scripture Union to support children as they move on to secondary school. Please pray for all those who are moving into new situations at the end of this year. It’s an exciting, but nerve-wracking, time.
Jane Smith

Leatherhead Trinity School – News from the July 2012 Parish Magazine

Leatherhead Trinity school has borrowed various artefacts from the church for use in their year 4 classes. Gail Brewer and Nancy Stonier borrowed – and returned – a cross, a candle snuffer, a collection plate and assorted other items. They and their classes will now come on an arranged visit to church to see where, why and how these items are used, before quizzing “Revd Graham” about everything.

Leatherhead Trinity School – News from the June 2012 Parish Magazine

May has been a month for outings, with Years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ALL having the chance to visit Tate Modern. Year 3 were accompanied by a certain Methodist/URC Minister who reports that the children were very excited by Matisse’s Snail.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations have included a Jubilee Street Party on 23 May, building on the great excitement at a similar event for last year’s Royal Wedding. The central area of the school building is a long, narrow atrium known as The Street and its glorious transformation with flags and bunting has to be seen to be believed!

The week beginning 28 May was designated “Creativity Week”, with a theme of “animal antics”. Events included a visiting artist and music, dance and drama workshops.

Events in June:

Members of the KS2 “Glee Club” are hard at work on final rehearsals for their performance of “Oliver!” which takes place on the evenings of 13 and 14 June.

The Summer Fair takes place on the afternoon of Sunday 24 June, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Help is needed to serve refreshments in the café – church members who are interested, please contact Jane Smith on 01372 372919.

The next meeting of TriPod (our termly Christian support group) takes place Wednesday 27 June, 6.30pm to 7.30pm at the school’s Woodville Road site. All Church members are warmly invited, to hear the latest news and offer support and prayers.
Jane Smith

Leatherhead Trinity School – News from the May 2012 Parish Magazine

This is the first of a regular column, bringing together highlights from Leatherhead Trinity newsletters over the previous few weeks, in the hope that church members will enjoy hearing about goings-on in the life of our church school.

Music: The infant choir took part in the Youth competitions at the Leith Hill Musical Festival, led by their conductor Lindsay Boswell. They were one of the smallest choirs, but sang up confidently and earned a nice, shiny certificate, along with some very positive comments. The older children enjoyed a visit by students from the Yehudi Menuhin School. As you can imagine the children were mesmerised by these talented musicians, who were only a few years older than them!

Trips: Year 4 have enjoyed an exciting trip by train into London, to visit Sir Francis Drake's ship, The Golden Hind. Meanwhile Year 3 have also been into London, to visit the Natural History Museum where they were excited to have a trip on the earthquake simulator.

At the end of term all year groups took part in Easter services, with the infants at Christ Church and the juniors at Leatherhead Parish Church. At both services the Easter story was told, with readings and prayers by the children, and they raised the roofs with their enthusiastic singing.

During the Easter holidays work has been underway to extend "The Burrow" – the room occupied by the school's Nurture Unit, who are looking forward to having a bit more space!

This month please remember in your prayers the children in Year 6 who will be sitting their SATs tests during the week of 14 May – and also their parents and teachers! The following week there are plans to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in school - more news next month.
Jane Smith

from the March 2012 Parish magazine
Family & Children’s Work: Focus On Tripod

TriPod? What’s that? TriPod is an opportunity for Christians to get together once a term, to offer prayerful support for the life of Leatherhead Trinity School and Children’s Centre.

Who is it for? Anyone who is supportive of the school’s Christian ethos and would like to know more about how it all works in practice. Members of the three sponsoring churches – St Mary & St Nicholas, Christ Church, and LMC – are all very welcome.

What do you do? It depends what’s going on. We will hear news about current issues, special events and ways in which the Christian ethos is expressed. There will usually be an update about assemblies, church services and/or the RE curriculum, as well as any particular issues that need prayer. Someone will lead some prayers. And we share tea and cake!

When and where? Next meeting: Wednesday 7 March, 6:30pm to 7:30pm at the school’s Woodvill Road site. Parking available on site. More info from L372919.

from the December 2010 Parish magazine
Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre
"You have searched me and known me... you are familiar with all my ways"

A few years ago, the periodic visit to a school by the Ofsted inspectors was regarded as a hostile act. The Inspectors were assumed to be looking for things to find fault with; the school would be in defensive mode, trying to project the best image possible and burying any problems.

These days, Ofsted would have us believe that the inspection has changed. The focus now is supposed to be on helping the school, not judging it, and the starting point is the school's own self-assessment. The theory is that problems and deficiencies don't matter too much in themselves as long as you can show that you have recognised them and are already doing something about them.

Ofsted are now most likely to criticise a school for unrealistically rosy self-assessment, and the key judgement is the school's "capacity to improve" rather than where it is now.

At Leatherhead Trinity we had our three-yearly Ofsted inspection earlier this term. How did it match up to the laudable aspirations for inspections under this new regime? For, in many ways, we are a test case for this philosophy. Still emerging from the trauma and distraction of the merger of our three previous schools, only newly established in our new building, and serving an area with a wide social mix, it would be amazing if everything were perfect. It's not, and we are aware ourselves of where we need to improve, and we like to think we have in place all the measures needed to improve.

But would Ofsted agree, or would they not see beyond superficial measures of attainment - SATs results, for instance, which inevitably improve only slowly in response to the sustained and real improvement in teaching we have obtained over the last couple of years?

The answer is a mixture of the two. The Inspection Team came, they saw, and they were impressed - impressed by the quality of the Head and the leadership team, impressed by the quality of teaching, impressed by the care and support for the children, impressed by how happy the children are and by the culture and atmosphere of the school. They gave us 13 separate "good" judgements, including teaching quality, leadership, engagement with parents, spiritual and moral development, and behaviour, and one judgement - for child protection - "outstanding". And these judgements really did stem from an impressively in-depth understanding of the school, there was nothing glib or superficial here, hence my choice of text to start this piece.

But, the Ofsted rules have certain inflexibilities built into them. Sadly, two key pieces of school data assumed, in our eyes, undue weight. "Attainment" refers to SATs results - not the progress the children make, which is what we care about, but their absolute level, which seems to us an unfair measure to emphasise when it depends on so many factors in a child's life.

And "attendance" is something we recognise we have a problem with, and have been pressing hard on - but the improvement we have made so far isn't quite enough to pass Ofsted's preset threshold.

So in the Ofsted system, attainment and attendance artificially held us back, so that overall we are classed as "a satisfactory school with good features". But we have the reassurance of knowing that a searching and thorough inspection has in fact recognised so much that is good in our school. Yes, Ofsted has improved immeasurably - this Inspection actually did feel as if the inspectors were there to help us. But as a church school we know there are things more important than test scores and attendance percentages, and Ofsted hasn't quite grasped that yet.
John Swanson

from the November 2010 Parish magazine
Looking afresh at our vision
No, I'm not talking about the Parish Church. Coincidentally, over the last year, we at Leatherhead Trinity School have also been taking a new look at our Vision and Values. We have been in existence now for four years, and our Vision Statement was drawn up as part of the process of creating the school. With the move into our new building marking something of a fresh start in our school life, the time seemed right for a review.

As I talked to governors, staff, and children, I was struck that pretty well everyone thought our Vision was still valid. The emphases of inclusion, spiritual values, care, breadth of education and so on were still seen as defining what is special about our school and what, in my mind, justifies the existence of faith schools – but that's another story for another time.

But equally I couldn't avoid the message that, with the best of intent, our existing statement was too wordy – although only a page, that still made it too long to be a practical day-to-day tool, and it was clear that few people referred to it.

So we hit on the idea of capturing the same principles, not in fluent prose, but as key concepts arranged visually rather than textually (good educational practice involved there!). Start with the one-liner, unchanged: "Inspiring Learning, Unlocking the Future". Then three key descriptors of our approach: child centred, achievement for all, community focussed. Then surround that with some of the elements that flow from those and that describe our vision.

(And then agonise over several meetings over which elements are the ones important enough to earn their place in the limited space!). The result: much the same Vision, but, hopefully, clearer, more accessible to more people, more to the fore of people's minds and, in consequence, more used. (For a larger version, see our website, www.leatherheadtrinity.surrey.sch.uk )
John Swanson

from the January 2010 Parish magazine
Reflections from Leatherhead Trinity
By far the most common question church members ask me is "How are things at Leatherhead Trinity?" So here are some reflections at the close of the first complete term in the new building.

The first half of term was noticeably a time of transition, with children, staff and parents all getting used to the new dynamics. As things have settled down, a rhythm has begun to emerge for the church/school relationship. Church staff are booked in to take assemblies at least twice a month for the rest of the school year. The school's RE Co-ordinator, Jennie Coles, has also introduced 'Open the Book' - an exciting assembly programme which gives the children a sound introduction to the Bible and brings all the key stories to life. The older children are also being introduced to some more traditional church music, providing me with the amusing experience of my daughter singing me such 'new songs' as We Plough the Fields and Scatter and All Things Bright and Beautiful!

Jennie Coles is also producing beautiful displays for the Spiritual Area at Woodville Road: firstly a reflective display for Harvest, as featured in The Wey newspaper, then, after a temporary stint as Santa's Grotto, a full size nativity scene, complete with real hay. And Christmas services, in church, are in the diary for the end of term.

Church members have been active as volunteers, notably a small army of helpers from LMC and Christ Church, who served refreshments at the Christmas Fair. Their help was enormously appreciated. On a smaller scale, children in Year 2 helped make 130 Christingles for the service at St Mary's, supported by a team of Anglican and Methodist volunteers, one of whom was a dinner lady at Poplar Road many moons ago and curious to see how much has changed.

And finally, one of the highlights of the term was definitely the official opening, by HRH the Duke of Kent, on 25 November. During the ceremony, the choir sang a Christian song and Ian Howarth and Graham Osborne said prayers and a blessing. It was good to see that the beautiful decorative cross from St Mary's Infants School was installed in the entrance hall, just in time for His Royal Highness' visit. The school may feel very new, but its Christian heritage is recognised and appreciated and we look forward to growing in relationship together.
Jane Smith

from the October 2009 Parish magazine
The view from over here - Leatherhead Trinity It is part of my remit as Family and Children's Worker to foster the churches' relationship with Leatherhead Trinity. As well as that "official" interest, my two children are on the school roll. And to cap it all, we live right in front of the site, with a fine view of all that is going on. So I am writing this on the third day of term, which seemed like a good time to share how things are looking from over here. And the view is good!

As neighbours, we have spent the summer watching some very large machines nibbling away at the old buildings of The Woodville School. It has been poignant. We are aware of so many friends who spent their school days there and have many memories stored away. But we are also, as parents, excited by the fresh start represented by the new building. So we have said goodbye to the rather pleasant brick buildings we used to look out on, and are getting used to catching flashes of slate grey and royal blue in the distance.

Our older daughter is excited to be in the Juniors. She has learned to tie her tie, is relieved that she hasn't got lost yet, and reports that the dinners are really good! Her little sister is waiting to start in Reception. She is excited that there is going to be a see-saw and is, for some reason, convinced that it will be electrically powered!

Already we begin to see some of the benefits of bringing the children together onto one site, where resources can be used to greater effect. This week's parents' newsletter reveals there will be some 41 extra-curricular clubs on offer to the children this term, including sports coaching from none other than Chelsea Football Club. And it has been touching to hear so many children say that they are looking forward to being at the same site as their siblings. Whether that will translate into harmonious playtimes remains to be seen!

As churches, we will be contributing to the programme of assemblies and plans for the "Quiet Space", where children of any faith background will be encouraged to explore their spiritual side. And we are beginning to build up a support network of parents, staff and church members who will undertake to pray for school life and take a real interest in all that is going on. Please do take an interest, and watch out for more news and details of how you can be involved.
Jane Smith

from the July 2009 Parish magazine
Leatherhead Trinity School
So, we have indeed now moved into our brand new building on the same site as the old Woodville School. Credit to the builders who ended up less than a week late after an 18 month building programme; and credit to the staff who managed to move and unpack their classrooms in two days plus, for many of them, extra hours put in over the weekend too. The junior-age children are in the building now and loving it; the infant-age children will join them in September. Amazingly, the building looks even better with children in it than it did empty!

Do we then regard that as the end of a journey, our target for the last three years now achieved? You only have to pose the question that way to realise that can't be the case. We're in the business of educating children in the widest sense. We recognised the new building as necessary for that, an integral part of the package of changes we made when we created Leatherhead Trinity. The physical surroundings in which education takes place do make a difference, and Leatherhead has now moved from a situation where the buildings were a handicap to where they are an asset. But of course, the buildings - the physical things - are only part of the story.

So let me suggest a few of the areas of our school life that will move more to the fore now our building problems are largely solved.
Firstly, no amount of warm words or good intent, or beautiful new buildings, are an excuse unless the children actually learn. That means we have to worry about results in tests, however flawed the testing system is; are our children learning basic literacy and numeracy as well as they should?
Secondly, though, as a church school, we believe there is more to educating a child than teaching them to read and write. We want children who are aware of a spiritual dimension to life in general and their own lives in particular, children for whom success as conventionally measured is not the be all and end all. So how to balance that with the three Rs?
Thirdly, the Children's Centre we have created at Aperdele Road is about offering input early enough in children's lives to make a real difference. Can we see the effect we are having and how can we be even more effective? And finally, one part of our vision is about bringing greater cohesion to Leatherhead; now all our children will be in one building, can we start delivering that?

Don't get me wrong. I want us all to savour what we now have in a building the envy of most of Surrey. Celebration is definitely the order of the day but resting on our laurels is not.

John Swanson
Chair of Governors

from the June 2009 Parish magazine
Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre
I am writing this two weeks before we are due to take possession of our new building on the Woodvill Road site. So, by the time you are reading it, God willing, we will have moved in and the vision that lay behind the creation of Leatherhead Trinity will be one step – one very significant step – closer to fulfilment.

A reminder of the back story: Leatherhead Trinity came into being out of three previous schools, the two infant schools, All Saints and St Mary's, and Woodville Junior. We wanted to improve the quality of education we offer, we wanted to use the buildings on Aperdele Road to form a Children's Centre; we wanted to use resources more efficiently; we wanted to make the school a real contribution to improved social cohesiveness and integration across Leatherhead. We wanted, also, to move away from purely Anglican schools and reflect the growing ecumenism in Leatherhead through giving the new school a three-way church foundation.

We achieved the organisational changes in 2006. But integral to what we aspired to was a new building, to get away from the venerable but frankly substandard and no longer acceptable buildings of the old Woodville school, and to allow us to bring together most of the infant children with the junior children in one place, the key to realising many of the other benefits. That, as I wrote at the time in this magazine, probably somewhat caustically, fell victim to administrative delays, politics, and problems with the planning system.

We did, of course, eventually get permission and building work started and has, by and large, despite all the weather has thrown at us, run to time. Now we are about to move into the building, the mood is positive and the frustrations fade, but it is only right to reflect that the last three years of running a school on three sites has been a heavy burden on the staff andleadership, and, no, it has not been to the advantage of the children either. All that stands, finally, to change; the half-completed vision of the last few years stands to see the final elements put in place. It is not just the physical building that will achieve that, wonderful though it is, and necessary though the right physical things are. It is rather the sense of the new start, the commitment to education in Leatherhead, the visible and outward sign of the passion so many people have brought to this project. Building, people, vision; they form another Trinity, up to now lopsided, but now nearing completion.
Thank God.
John Swanson, Chair of Governors

from the May 2008 Parish Magazine
Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre
Leatherhead Trinity is, of course, a Church school; a Voluntary Controlled School with an ecumenical foundation (Anglican, Methodist and URC, the three Covenanting churches in Leatherhead; our Head is a Roman Catholic and we hope soon to be working with the Baptists as the Children's Centre expands). Church schools have come in for quite a bit of criticism recently. On the one hand, there is the fear that schools with a strong but narrow religious focus might indoctrinate children in beliefs society as whole is uncomfortable with, be that a fear of Islam or concern at Christian schools promoting a particular Creationism over evolution.

On the other hand, many church schools are in deprived areas, which sounds laudable; but the Church of England and its critics bandy around contradictory statistics claiming that these schools either do or do not select better-off children from those areas and actually make the problems even worse for the rest of the community. In between, many of us are surely uncomfortable with churches using the need to obtain the necessary clergy signature to get a child into a church school as a crude tool to get parental bums on seats; and many secularists question why the state should endorse and, arguably, subsidise faith presence in education at all.

Against those criticisms, how do we fare in Leatherhead? We do not select children on faith grounds. As a Voluntary Controlled school, rather than the Voluntary Aided schools, which are more in the control of the church and less of the local authority, we are not allowed to. But even if we could choose our own admissions policy, it would have no church-attendance clauses. We are providing a school, a service for the whole community of Leatherhead, and that is an imperative, which stems from our beliefs; an inclusive admissions policy is intrinsic.

Similarly, our curriculum is the localauthority one; we do not seek any supposedly Christian slant to science or any academic subject. We do, though, try to provide a richer experience of assemblies and RE as a consequence of our church ethos. Our children will, I would like to think, leave us having imbibed more of the Christian story, more of the experience of worship, more awareness of their own spiritual feelings, or at its most basic just having more familiarity with churches and hymns, than may be the norm in an increasingly secular age.

If they also understand more of the Islamic tradition (our Year 5 children have just visited a Mosque, one of the after-school clubs we offer is in Arabic, and we have staff and pupils from many faiths, including Islam, and none) that is surely something secularists should thank us for.

With regard to siphoning off middle-class children, the situation in Leatherhead is the reverse of that which gets criticised in some deprived areas. We all recognise that parts of Leatherhead are indeed deprived, and other parts affluent. Our vision is for a single school and children's centre for the whole community, a school that does its part to eradicate the divisions and build cohesion across our town. I have to say we're not there yet; but where we are making real progress is in our provision for the more needy, through the numerous services on offer at the Children's Centre and through the special-needs provision at the School.

The church, providing service to the whole community, working especially with children, offering most to the most in need is surely where we should be, and is surely hard to criticise. Perhaps when our new building is finished, we can complete the vision of the church serving the whole community.
John Swanson, Chair of Governors

from the January 2008 Parish Magazine
Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre
The last item on Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre in the Parish magazine may have come over as slightly despondent; it emphasised the difficulties caused by the delays in getting planning permission for our new building. Now, we can all be much more positive: not only do we have our planning permission, but also work has actually started!

A reminder of what we're talking about: we combined the three schools, St Mary's, All Saints and The Woodville, a year ago, to form Leatherhead Trinity, a single new Church primary school for Leatherhead. But we are still using the existing buildings. The former All Saints building in Aperdele Road has been successfully expanded and adapted for the Children's Centre. But to complete the project and to fulfil the vision that lay behind it, we need a new building for the school on the Woodville Road site.

The new building was much delayed but that's now history. The important thing is that we received planning permission in October, and work has now started. We've installed a temporary canteen so that we can demolish the old canteen and clear that part of the site; and we've remodelled the entrance to make it suitable for construction traffic. Then we start the serious earth moving needed to create flat areas out of the current sloping site; we start the new building and around Spring 2009, God willing and the weather permitting, we move in.

The building is costing over £8M. For that, Leatherhead will get a new concept in design. Gone is the traditional corridor; instead, running the length of the building is a "village street", tall, light and airy, and forming not just a functional way to get from one room to another but a creative space in its own right. The rooms then open off the village street; on one side, the offices, Hall, studio, kitchen and so on; on the other, the classrooms in two storeys. There is more besides: space for the language unit; the offices of Mid Surrey Arts; and outside, an amphitheatre as well as the sports facilities.

And one final feature that you don't find in every primary school: a quiet area with a spiritual focus. We are, after all, a Church school. We believe in educating the children not just in the traditional curriculum but in all that makes the fullness of human life - and for those of us involved in the school from a church setting, that includes a sense of something bigger than ourselves, something spiritual, something which we locate in the Christian story. Our building will help us deliver all our aspirations.
John Swanson

from the August 2007 Parish Magazine

Leatherhead Trinity School and Children's Centre is now completing its first year. Everyone in Leatherhead should know about us, if only because children now walk round in a single red uniform rather than the various shades of blue and green of the previous St Mary's, All Saints and The Woodville. But there could be some confusion about exactly what is happening given that those same three school buildings are still in use. Has anything actually changed?

There were two parts to the vision of Leatherhead Trinity. One was creating the Children's Centre, bringing together childcare, the whole range of State services for children, and the work of the All Saints Family Project. It operates out of much improved buildings on the All Saints site at Aperdele Rd, is run by a manager, Hazel, operating under the overall structure of the school and its Head and Governing Body, and is spectacularly successful, becoming, in its first six months, the only local provider to be rated "outstanding" by Ofsted. It is undoubtedly making a difference to the lives of families in North Leatherhead and beyond.

The other part of the vision was bringing the three existing infant and junior schools together into a single new primary school, in a new building. We've done the "people" bit of that. As well as a single uniform, we have a single Head, Alison; a single Governing Body (David, Ian and Dean are Governors, as are several other church members, reflecting the three-way church foundation); a single curriculum, budget, staffing structure, and ethos, we are a single school in everything ... except for the linchpin of the vision: a new building.

It may sound as if this should not matter too much. Surely real value comes from people, not from bricks and mortar? Maybe I started the year thinking a bit of that myself. But experience shows it just isn't so. Organisationally for the management, for the curriculum, for the staff, for continuity for the children any school on three sites is trying to run with one foot in a bucket of concrete. And the physical surroundings, the atmosphere they create and the facilities they provide make a huge difference to the nurture of children, something that should not surprise us as churches. Until we get that new building, the vision is, frustratingly, stalled.

Why the delay? The Planning Application was far too late going in. Then, in June, the Planning Committee voted (on a tied, 7-7 vote) not to grant permission but to refer it back for more work. The proposed building itself is wonderful, reflecting an £8M price tag, a measure of the investment Surrey are prepared to put into Leatherhead. The problem is the access to the site, the top half of the existing Woodville grounds. Is it possible to accommodate the car movements on Kingston and Woodville Roads? Can we realistically persuade parents out of cars onto foot? These are the issues where the Planning Committee were not yet persuaded and so the building is delayed by another six months.

How do we balance the concerns of the local residents with the broader imperatives for the community? Shaped by the input from the churches alongside others, one of the values of Leatherhead Trinity is that we are part of the community, not just a place to send children during school hours, but an integral part of the life of a town. That means the local concerns are our concerns too, and as a school we have been urging Surrey not just to force this through roughshod but to find a solution that works for everyone. But it also explains the hurt and frustration as the needs of the community, not just the school, are left unmet.

Leatherhead is largely united round a vision of how to go forward. Churches, staff, Governors, and parents, we're all in it because we want to make a difference.

Watching yet another generation of our children in Leatherhead receive less than we know we could give them is not what education should be about.

Meanwhile the staff, despite the problems and the stress, are working very hard for the well-being of the children; as well as the "outstanding" Ofsted tag for the Children's Centre, standards are significantly improved at the school this year too. We are a church school. As a church community, we share our undoubted strengths and successes with you; and our problems and frustrations too. John Swanson Chair of Governors

from the August 2006 Parish Magazine

Both our church schools, St Mary's and All Saints, will formally be coming to a close as independent Voluntary Controlled Schools in their own right this month. Both schools have served Leatherhead for over 100 years and were originally brought into being by local church initiatives. Each school plans an eventful closure day when all that has been achieved by them in the past and present can be celebrated: St Mary's is on Tuesday 25 July, and All Saints on Wednesday 26 July.

These formal closures mark the turning point in the coming into being of the new Voluntary Controlled Leatherhead Trinity Primary School and Children's Centre. For about the next two years education will continue on these same sites, and longer at All Saints with the Foundation Stage remaining in place as part of the newly created Children's Centre.

This is a One-Stop-Shop incorporating a range of children's and family services alongside early years education. Eventually the present Woodville and St Mary's School will come into the new school being built on the Woodville site.

These changes have meant a great deal of uncertainty at times for teaching and non-teaching staff. All Saints has experienced the disruptive creation of the Children's Centre around them whilst continuing to function as an Infant and Nursery School.

St Mary's has had the disappointment of knowing that it will not continue as a separate school at all. Although the changes are positive and life-giving to a new phase in primary education, the passing of old and well-trusted friends will be a time of sadness as well as celebration.

We thank both schools, and also all who have worked at The Woodville School, for all they have given to generations of children; and we look forward with enthusiasm to the coming into being of Leatherhead Primary School and Children's Centre with its unique support from the Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches.

Before Trinity - All Saints and St Mary's

last updated 30 June 2012