Finnish-ing school! Primary earns ‘outstanding’ Ofsted after following Helsinki lead

Finnish-ing school! Primary earns ‘outstanding’ Ofsted after following Helsinki lead

Wolfson Hillel reaps rewards after headteacher visits Finland to learn how country’s table-topping education system works

A school courtyard
A school courtyard

A Jewish primary school in Southgate this week had cause for huge celebrations after being graded ‘outstanding’ following a recent Ofsted inspection.

Teaching staff at Wolfson Hillel felt vindicated by the sweeping changes made last year, after headteacher Kirsten Jowett went to Finland to learn how that country’s schools keep topping international tables – and implemented the changes here.

Following Jowett’s visit to Helsinki, she instituted several changes, including a much higher proportion of trained teachers, earlier start and finish times, ‘family’ lunches (whereby children serve themselves in groups) taken over a shorter lunch period, and more time for teaching preparation and marking.

“My teachers now have from 2.30pm until 4pm to mark, assess, review and prepare, so it has given them their work/life balance back, and brought about much improved results from the children,” she said. “It has also helped with staff retention, as all the changes make for a happier team.”

Reacting to news of the Ofsted grade which was announced on Thursday, she said: “We got outstanding in all five areas, so we’re thrilled. I’m extremely proud of the whole team, the children, the parents and the Governors, because we’ve all worked together for the last five years to achieve this goal.”

She added: “I believe that the innovative changes that we’ve implemented have made a significant contribution to the outcome and I’m pleased that Ofsted agreed, and have said so in their report.”

Teachers at the 480-pupil Enfield primary had to wait a nail-biting eight weeks before they heard the results, after a three-day inspection over Purim. Several quality assurance teams later visited to confirm the grade of ‘outstanding,’ with the report due to be published next week.

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