London primary school teaches kids how to speak Chinese and is loved by Ofsted

An East London school where kids learn Chinese and come in half an hour early to read has been praised as “outstanding” by Ofsted inspectors. Ofsted, the education watchdog, said Monega Primary School in East Ham had a fantastic quality of education and got the most out of its pupils. Inspectors rated the school “outstanding” – the highest possible score – just a few years after it was deemed “inadequate” – the worst rating.

Monega Primary has a demanding curriculum for its young kids – they are given Mandarin lessons, taught to paint like Monet and learn poetry. They also go to school half an hour before most kids – arriving at 8:30 am for 30 minutes of reading. Headteacher Elizabeth Harris says this extra reading time in the morning makes a huge difference to pupils’ enthusiasm and learning.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that encouraging kids to read at the Newham school and making them feel represented in what they learn helps to motivate them. Ms Harris added setting high standards for kids had helped the school to improve so fast in just a few years.

She said: “I think it’s having really high expectations. We’ve got high expectations of pupils, but equally of parents and of staff. So high expectations and continuity and consistency has moved the school from where it was to where it now is.

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“We start school at 8:30. We read for half an hour every day in the morning. That has made a big impact in terms of reading standards. Every child in this building knows that the most important skill you can have is reading, and if you ask any child in the school that is what they will tell you.”

The headteacher added that Monega Primary thinks of many creative ways to get their 3-11 year-old kids engaged and enthusiastic about learning. This includes a visiting storyteller, a science fair and even a therapy dog. Ms Harris said: “We have a therapy dog that comes in regularly – we just do lots of lovely things around reading.”

Ofsted inspectors praised the school’s culture and the range of subjects and skills kids were taught. They added that students’ enthusiasm for learning was a key aspect of the school’s success. Ofsted said in its report: “Children in early years become confident readers, writers and explorers of the world around them.

“Staff make sure that pupils quickly become fluent in English. Pupils also enjoy learning Mandarin and are aware that it could help them with future employment.”

The inspectors added: “In art, pupils enjoy well-known artists’ work. They also appreciate the work of a more culturally diverse group of artists… Pupils behave exceptionally well in class. They are highly motivated in lessons and demonstrate positive attitudes to their education.

“Teachers across the school promote the love of reading. Pupils eagerly talk about their favourite books and authors.” The officials added that the school was strong on supporting children with special educational needs and supporting pupils at all levels of education.

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