Welcome to our School

A message from Helen Porter, Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers,                                                   

The last few months have been an incredibly challenging and anxious time for us all as we have come to grips with the challenges of Covid-19.

Priestley Smith School is following all government guidance carefully and trying to ensure that we support our students and families in the best way we can.  

Throughout this period of time the school has remained open to Primary and Secondary children of key workers and those who are considered highly vulnerable due to complexity of need. In recent weeks we also welcomed back more children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 12. The students were taught in ‘bubbles’, with separate break times, lunchtimes, staffing etc. so that they did not come into contact with other groups. This helped us to maintain their safety and that of the staff. We have also provided home learning for all students unable to come back into school and thank you for your support in helping your child to engage with this.

We are now preparing for a full return of all students in September 2020 and have carried out a full risk assessment to ensure student and staff safety. You can access a copy of our risk assessment here. This risk assessment will continue to be updated regularly over the Summer and beyond in response to any changing DFE or Public Health guidance.

As our pupil numbers are relatively small, we have decided to ‘bubble’ the entire departments. Primary will be in one bubble and Secondary will be in another bubble. This fits in with the government guidance of a mainstream Primary class (approximately 30-35 students) and a mainstream Year group (up to 240 students). We will have 35 Primary students and 50 Secondary students in our two bubbles. We have made this decision as our Primary students will be transported together on the same vehicles, as will our Secondary students, so it is not possible to keep smaller groups apart.

However we will still try to keep groups apart as much as possible in school, even within these bubbles, and our students will sadly not be allowed to mix at all with the students of the other campus schools on playgrounds or in dining rooms for the time being.

As Secondary subject specialist teachers will be unable to deliver their usual lessons to Primary students (French, PE, music)  as they cannot cross bubbles, this means that Primary staff will not get their planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time which we have to provide by law. Primary PPA will therefore be delivered to all Primary teaching staff on Friday afternoons. Primary children will finish at 1.00 pm and Primary staff will have planning, preparation and assessment time from 1.00-3.30.  We have moved our Primary starting time earlier by ten minutes each day and as there will no group assemblies each day, we have ensured that pupil learning time is affected by only twenty minutes over the course of the whole week.

If this early finish on Friday will cause you any difficulties, we would ask you to contact the school urgently so that we can help to find solutions for you. This is a short term measure and we hope to return to normal hours on a Friday as soon as possible. The system will be reviewed at half term. It will not affect Secondary students as it is still possible for Secondary teachers to get PPA through the ordinary systems in place. Secondary students will therefore attend school on Friday afternoons as usual.

Primary students will still receive the specialist lessons of French, music and PE lessons either by Zoom but supported by their own classroom staff or the lessons will be planned by subject specialists and delivered by the children’s own classroom staff.

Speech therapy, Habilitation, physiotherapy and Braille teaching will all still take place. These staff will be allowed to work with the students of both bubbles but never on the same day. They will support Primary pupils on one day and Secondary the next.

When the students all return  to school in September, we will quickly reestablish their current levels of learning and ensure that interventions are put into place to help them catch up with any gaps in their learning or work they may have missed. We do not wish the students to worry about the time they have missed. We will help them to progress at their optimum pace as soon as they are back in school.

Your child’s form staff will continue to be in regular contact with you to talk to you about your child’s progress,  to check that you and your family are safe and well and to ensure that you do not have any difficulties that we could help to resolve.

Children who are eligible for free school meals should all have received digital vouchers from the government for the Summer holiday period which you can take to a supermarket of your choice.  If you have any difficulties with regard to these vouchers, please email Jo Shale on j.shale@priestley.bham.sch.uk

In September it is expected that government free school meal vouchers will stop and we will return to the normal system of free school meals being provided at school and children accessing school meals as usual.

During the Summer holiday you can contact the school on 07470 825058 rather than the usual school number. Please contact us if you have any difficulties or need help or support during this time. In September you will once again be able to contact us on the usual school number 0121 325 3900.

I hope you and your family all stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Helen Porter

Important Numbers

If you are in self-isolation and in need of urgent assistance, these key numbers will be able to support you.

• School – 0121 325 3900 or 07470 825058

• Special School Nursing Service – 0121 466 4270 or 0121 465 262

• Police – 999 – 101

• NHS – 111

• Social Services – 0121 303 1888 • Social Services (Emergency out of hours) – 0121 675 4806

Follow this link to find other information which may be of use to you.


Where Are We?

Priestley Smith School is located on the site of Perry Beeches mainstream schools in Great Barr, Birmingham. The campus includes Perry Beeches Nursery, Infant, Junior and Secondary schools. Our buildings are purpose-built for visually impaired students and are very well resourced to meet their needs, providing the specialist equipment they require to access the curriculum.

Priestley Smith School is a city-wide provision. Students attend our school from all areas of Birmingham and also from surrounding Local Authorities, including Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Have a look at our contact us page for more information on our location. P


Our Ofsted Report

ofsted logo

‘In March 2012 and January 2015 and 2019 OFSTED inspected our school. We were delighted by the outcome of these inspections, which concluded that “Priestley Smith is an outstanding school”.

Here are some extracts from the latest report:

“Pupils achieve extremely well because staff have expert knowledge in their subjects. They know how to promote the learning of pupils who have visual impairment extremely well. The most able achieve as well, and sometimes better, in their GCSEs and A levels as all other pupils nationally.”

“Pupils’ behaviour is excellent. They thrive from early years to sixth form in an environment that nurtures their confidence and teaches them to value and respect everyone’s different talents and backgrounds. This means that their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding”.

“Teaching is outstanding because staff are so skilled at promoting each pupil’s learning. Staff have a detailed understanding of the pupils they teach and of how to promote the learning of pupils who have a visual impairment. They also convey a love of their subjects that inspires pupils to learn.”

“Attitudes to learning are exceptional. Pupils say this is because they ‘want to learn’ and ‘do things for ourselves’. They also say they know their teachers value and respect them… Pupils take great pride in their work and achievements.”

“Outstanding skills programmes ensure pupils are extremely well prepared for their next steps in education as well as for life in modern Britain. These include courses in personal and social understanding, mobility and independent living. Pupils hugely value the independence they gain from them.”

“An exceptional headteacher, ably supported by a strong leadership team, has created an ethos in which all are determined that every child matters and will succeed. Leaders and managers at all levels, including governors, have the highest expectations of themselves and of pupils.”

“Excellent technological support ensures pupils have ready access to the specialist equipment that they need to learn. Pupils become highly skilled in using it.”

“All pupils feel extremely safe in the school. Leaders are meticulous in carrying out all the checks they should to ensure this.”

“The governance of the school is outstanding. The governing body is hugely committed to the work of the school and very involved in monitoring  its work and evaluating its outcomes.”

Read the full report below: 

Ofsted Report 2015 

Ofsted Report 2019