PROVIDING a safe and secure environment to enable children to thrive is the top priority at Ad Astra Infant School in Canford Heath.

Val Arbon, who has been headteacher there for the last 14 years, said the school’s caring ethos was at the heart of all it did.

She said: “Our first priority as an infant school is that the children feel safe and they feel secure and parents feel comfortable about leaving their children here.

“When your child is only four years old, you have got to have confidence that they are going to be safe.”

The school promotes the arts and ensures children receive a well-rounded and varied education, Mrs Arbon explained.

Following a visit by Ofsted in January, inspectors praised the school’s curriculum for promoting pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Mrs Arbon said: “We have got to teach the basic skills, teach the children how to read and write and be numerate, but we try to work in a great deal of enrichment subjects such as music, drama and art.

“It makes the children happy to come to school because they want to learn. We have a very rich curriculum.”

Mrs Arbon said the varied curriculum and high quality teaching ensures pupils make good progress at the school.

“The attainment of children is broadly average overall as a school.

“They come in quite low and leave as average, which is something we are very proud of.”

Ad Astra Infant School belongs to the co-operative the Teach Trust, which also includes Canford Heath Infant School, Canford Heath Junior School and Haymoor Junior School.

The schools work alongside each other for the benefit of all children in the area, Mrs Arbon explained.

She said: “We collaborate and work together for the good of all the children.

“In future we are looking at working even closer together. We are really very proud of the work we are doing for the benefit of all four schools.”


Ad Astra Infant School Sherborn Crescent, Canford Heath, Poole, BH17 8AP Telephone: 01202 602113 Mixed Age range: 4-7 Number of children: 266 Head teacher: Val Arbon OFSTED REPORT: Overall grade: Good.

A monitoring inspection was carried out in January 2014. A report from the inspectors said: “Ad Astra continues to improve and develop, managing well the required transition last year from being a first school to an infant school, which was achieved very smoothly.

“Pupils behave exceptionally well, feel safe in school and are confident that adults will deal quickly with any incidents that may arise.

“Teaching is rarely less than good and is sometimes outstanding.

“Teachers typically plan effectively, manage classes well and use a range of resources and strategies to ensure good learning.

“The experienced headteacher gives a strong direction to the work of the school. Together with the two assistant headteachers, she is working to lift the quality of teaching to outstanding.”