New name for Woodlands Primary School
New name for Woodlands Primary School

Newly renamed primary school, Woodlands Primary School, part of successful local multi-academy trust Mercia Learning Trust, has opened with its new name and vision for its future.

Formerly Valley Park Primary, the 2-11 primary school and nursery on Norton Avenue (by Herdings Leighton Road tram stop) in Gleadless has returned from the Christmas break with a brand-new name and vision for the school.

The renaming was marked in the first week of January with Louise Haigh MP cutting the ribbon and kick-starting the schools tree planting project with the first tree going in the ground. Over the course of this term, the school will plant nearly 400 trees on the site; enough for every pupil to plant their own tree. The children spent the first week as Woodlands children learning about the ancient woodlands in their area, and the nature that surrounds them, as well as celebrating the fresh start and direction the school is going in.

With a new headteacher in January 2021, came the opportunity for change, and a compelling and ambitious vision. The name choice reflects the history and heritage of the local area, and the ancient woodlands of Gleadless Valley, and reflects on how trees embody and exemplify our relentless pursuit of excellence and growth.

Woodlands Primary is a highly driven primary and nursery school with excellence at the heart of what we do. Headteacher, Lauren Johnstone, joined the school at the start of 2021, and saw a school that was full of potential but could see it was eager for the next stage of its journey.

Mrs Johnstone explains: “Woodlands Primary is a school which places the child at the centre of everything that we do with inspirational learning processes that provide opportunities for holistic growth. We believe that education should focus on the development of confidence and self-esteem through learner-inspired, hands-on experiences in natural learning environments as well as classrooms.”

She continues: “Positive change has been abundant at Woodlands for quite some time now, with 12 classrooms receiving full makeovers, corridors are inspirational spaces adorned with engaging and beautiful 3D displays, the forest school is established and thriving, and children are proud and respectful of their beautiful school.”

“The unrivaled outdoor space at the school can’t be seen from the road but must be seen to be believed! We have a forest school, woodland areas, a large pitch, an adventure playground and trim-trail, extensive playground space with interactive activities. Children receive Outdoor Learning lessons in this wonderful space, and teachers focus on self-esteem and self-confidence outdoors.”

Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley, said:

“I was delighted to help Woodlands Primary School celebrate their name change and to help kick off their tree planting project. It was great to see how enthusiastic the children and staff are about their school’s name and new start.

“I was pleased to see all the work the school do to try and ensure they teach the kids about their environment and some of the environmentally friendly steps they have taken – including removing plastic toys from reception and replaced them with natural and environmentally friendly materials, establishing their eco committee and promoting the good work of the Forest School.

“The school has been on a hugely positive journey and once again, children are really at the heart of everything the school do.”


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