Rapid turnaround at school where children speak 40 languages

The Birmingham Mail is reporting on a turnaround in fortunes for a local primary school made famous on Channel 4’s ‘Benefits Street’ programme.

It’s the Benefits Street school which has welcomed the world – literally.

Because Oasis Academy Foundry’s 228 pupils – most plucked from some of the planet’s worst war zones – speak a total of 40 languages.

All have found refuge at the Winson Green school perched on the corner of James Turner Street – made infamous by Channel 4’s Benefits Street.

Most of the children are greeted in their mother tongue by headteacher Emma Johnson.

She has led an astonishing transformation of its fortunes after, as the old Foundry Primary, it was plunged into special measures by Ofsted only three years ago.

“Persistent weak” teaching was blamed for bad behaviour and poor pupil performance at a school in the heart of a transient community.

The average pupil stays for just two terms, with many living in temporary accommodation.

But now reading, writing and maths standards are all on the rise, despite the traumas endured by some of its youngsters.

“One of my children was a child soldier in Congo,” Mrs Johnson said.

“I have others from war-torn Iraq and Syria and Roma families from all over Eastern Europe who are persecuted in their homelands.

“We have pupils who fled Kazakhstan – anywhere there is trouble in the world you can guarantee we have pupils from those countries…

“I could tell you things that would make your toes curl.

…Having converted to Oasis Academy Foundry in January 2014, the number of pupils achieving the government’s benchmark standard in reading, writing and maths has risen by 55 per cent in the space of two years.

In July 2013, just 16 per cent of the school’s Year 6 pupils achieved level four or higher.

But this summer 71 per cent of 11-year-olds left the school achieving the required standard…

The school’s commitment to its pupils saw it clinch a Birmingham School of Sanctuary Award in April…

Mrs Johnson said she was proud of what the school had achieved…

“It’s not a personal mission to help them, I just think every child has the right to a decent education.”

More at: Winson Green school where the kids speak 40 languages


Wow – we get used to lots of languages being spoken at schools now, but 40 from just 228 pupils is amazing.

Sounds like a great job is being done here by Emma Johnson and her team.

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