Inside the brilliant ‘turnaround’ Handsworth school that wraps children and families in love

“We live, love and learn together as a family and as a community.” It’s a simple mantra, but it’s at the heart of how a ‘reputationally damaged’ and underperforming school in the heart of Handsworth is celebrating an important day today.

St Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy has received the coveted ‘Outstanding’ rating from school regulator Ofsted, marking the culmination of a fierce collective determination to give the area’s young people the best possible start in life.

Humble head Philip Hynan and his Handsworth-raised deputy Daniel Martin point to others when asked how they did it. “It’s a collective achievement,” says Philip, who praises not only his staff and families, but also the input from community groups, local residents, places of worship and charities. “It is a collaborative effort that is fundamentally motivated and inspired by love and people.”

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The opening lines of the Ofsted report for the school would warm the heart of any parent or teacher. ‘There is an abundance of love, care and ambition evident at this school.

Children at school enjoy an encounter with a friendly animal

“The school changes the lives of families and students. Many students come to school at different times during the year. Some stay for a while, others stay longer. But what is consistent is the school’s determination that every student will, and does it well. There is a high level of care for every child.

“This includes family support, education and mentoring. Students new to school benefit from the exceptional care that all students receive. Home visits ensure that these students and their families get the help they need to adapt quickly. The behavior is extremely commendable. Not a moment of learning is wasted. All students achieve highly across the curriculum.”