Familiar with the phrase ‘Love Mondays’? For the new headteacher at Queen’s Manor Primary School in Fulham, it is a catchphrase that resonates.
When Phoebe du Parcq was officially appointed as head at Queen’s Manor at the beginning of this year, it was the culmination of a relationship with the school spanning more than eight years.
“It is really a dream job for me,” reveals Phoebe. “I started as a class teacher here, so I have really grown with the school.”
Just a stone’s throw from Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage ground, the magnificent Victorian building in Lysia Street that is home to the school has recently unveiled a new playground and had its Ofsted ‘Good’ rating reaffirmed.
It’s an exciting time for Miss du Parcq, who was the deputy headteacher for three years before the former longstanding head Sonja Harrison relocated to the north of England with her family.
Appointed as interim head in September last year, a rigorous recruitment process whittled down the candidates until Phoebe was officially offered the job.
“I am really passionate about young people and making a difference to them,” she says.
Phoebe grew up locally and attended school in Hammersmith, before studying for a degree in sociology and social policy at the University of London. She later completed her PGCE teaching qualifications at nearby Roehampton University, one of the principal providers of teacher training in the UK.
“There is a real sense that there is a network in this area - you feel like you know everyone,” Phoebe says.
That sense of community is apparent at the school, where Phoebe makes sure she talks with pupils and parents every day by being out in the playground and being ‘accessible’ and ‘approachable’.
“Those relationships are really key to the success of the school,” she points out. “For us, the key is really knowing all our children.”
An active Friends of Queen’s Manor group organises regular events from garden parties, cake sales, movie nights and Easter egg decorating competitions, to pumpkin carving, discos and the annual summer fair. And teachers delight in being involved in activities like the annual World Book Day celebrations and Dragon’s Den-style contest for Year 5 pupils.
“To celebrate World Book Day we organised activities through the whole week, but we kicked off the actual day with a catwalk where the children shared their costumes,” says Phoebe.
“The children absolutely loved seeing the staff dressing up, so we always do a little skit in assembly, which goes down very well.”
Home to a specialist centre – The Pavilion – for up to 20 children with learning difficulties, as well as its mainstream one-form entry, the school has long been a champion for inclusivity.
It’s an ethos that is close to Phoebe’s heart, with her career spanning special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion work alongside class teacher roles.
“I have always been really fortunate to work in very inclusive schools and I learned a lot from the very beginning about how children best work together within a very inclusive model,” explains Phoebe, who spent a year as the inclusion leader at Brackenbury Primary School in Hammersmith before securing the deputy head role at Queen’s Manor in 2015.
“That passion for making sure children were all learning together with their peers helped lead me down a SEN route.”
The new Stephen Wiltshire Centre is also on the Queen’s Manor site. It’s a purpose-built specialist centre for local children with special educational needs and,or disabilities and their families. The centre is named after Stephen Wiltshire - an artist who has autism and attended Queensmill School in Hammersmith.
The specialist hub delivers a range of activities and support. Families can meet professionals and peers, as well as take part in family fun days, drop in advice sessions and short breaks including holiday schemes.
And Phoebe adds that working in Hammersmith & Fulham is rewarding because of the close links she has fostered with the area since starting her career as a class teacher at Langford Primary School, in Fulham, where she spent three years.
Her passion for travel led her to a teaching post in Madrid, Spain, but it wasn’t long before H&F lured her back. “There is something special about the borough and we do maintain strong links with H&F Council,” she said.
In October 2016, Queens Manor joined two other local schools - Fulham Primary and Sulivan Primary - to form Brightwells Academy Trust.
Like many in the education sector, Phoebe says that changes in funding ‘brings increased pressures’ but the challenges never override the need to provide a really good education for our children and maximise their life chances.
As the term draws to a close and Phoebe reflects on her first term as the substantive head of Queen’s Manor School, there’s a sense of pride in the school community.
“Every day there is something to celebrate,” she says. “Every day there is a reason to smile and a sense of joy. It could be the whole school or one pupil coming to show me a piece of writing.
“I genuinely feel we have wonderful children here at Queen’s Manor.”
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