Free school story: St Martin's Academy Chester | newschoolsnetwork.org

Free school story: St Martin's Academy Chester

St Martin’s Academy Chester uses a longer school day to offer all its pupils an ‘Outstanding’ education.

Opening for the first time in September 2013, St Martin’s was established by North West Academies Trust in response to a need for extra primary school places in the city. Inspected by Ofsted after just 6 terms, inspectors judged the school to be ‘Outstanding’ in every category, praising the school’s leaders for the way that, ‘no stone is left unturned in the drive to ensure children begin to develop into well-rounded young people.’

The school prides itself on offering a longer school day, with children attending school between 9am-4pm. This gives the school the opportunity to provide a wide range of extracurricular activities without taking time away from more formal learning.

Using the freedom to innovate which all free schools enjoy, the school delivers a creative, international curriculum alongside the national curriculum. This develops pupils’ perspective on the world around them by focussing on local and global issues and teaching about themes which link together different subjects. 

Outside of lessons, there are a wealth of clubs and enrichment opportunities for children to follow, ranging from weekly swimming lessons, which all pupils enjoy from Reception onwards, to dance, computer coding, bush-craft and cookery. The school aims to provide a wide range of experiences for its pupils, organising at least one school trip every term and bringing in visitors to attend and talk to the children. Inspectors were particularly positive about this aspect of the school, describing how the activities on offer, ‘add significantly to the development of pupils’ core skills’ and contribute to the creation of, ‘a learning community where pupils’ self-esteem and self-confidence can flourish’.

Relationships with parents is another strength of the school which inspectors picked up on, commenting on how their views have been, ‘paramount at every stage of the academy’s development’. Regular news updates and an online blog for each class allows parents to keep up to date on what their children are learning and those that Ofsted spoke to, ‘were quick to point out that they have felt part of the, ‘St. Martin’s family,’ from before the school opened.’