Welcome to our School

A message from Helen Porter, Headteacher

Find useful information on coronavirus and the school risk assessment here

Dear Parents and Carers,   


Welcome back to the new term! We are delighted to be fully open again.

Our term has started well, with almost all children in school and thoroughly enjoying being back with their friends and teachers. Staff are also pleased to be back in school full time and working directly with the children rather than supporting some children in school and others through home learning.

Our plans to protect children and staff from Covid-19, as discussed in our letter to you on 14th July, have all been put in place and we are operating as two separate bubbles – one Primary and one Secondary. Within these bubbles we are also limiting contact between the children and they have no contact with the other students on site in different schools.  Therapists, Braille teachers and Habilitation Officers are working with both Primary and Secondary students but never on the same day. They work with Primary students one day and Secondary another, so protecting the bubbles. All students are eating in classrooms to avoid mixing with students from other schools.

For a temporary period of time, Primary students are finishing at 1 pm on Fridays to enable Primary staff to have statutory Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time but Secondary finish at their normal time of 3.20 as we are able to provide PPA for secondary staff within the ordinary timetable. In the Primary department PPA is usually provided by Secondary subject specialists delivering French, music and PE lessons to Primary pupils, thereby giving Primary staff PPA time. However this is not currently possible as staff from the two bubbles cannot mix. Instead these lessons are being provided by Primary class teachers, based on planning from subject specialists. We are hoping that this change in Primary timings will be temporary and that, when Covid-19 issues have resolved slightly, we can return to normal timings.

This will be reviewed at half term in light of the national situation. We have also changed the Primary starting time to 8.45 each day, gaining 75 minutes over the week and an hour will also be gained by not having assemblies during this period.  As a result we have been able to maintain the full learning time for Primary students over the course of the week.

Protective Measures

It is crucial that families and the school continue to work closely together to ensure we are all protected as much as possible.

  • Parents to continue to take their child’s temperature before they get on transport and to keep them at home if it is higher than normal. Parents/carers also to check for other symptoms daily- a new, dry persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • All staff and pupils have their temperatures taken on entry to the school.
  • Use of hand sanitiser and handwashing is a frequent part of the school day.
  • The school is ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  • Pupils are sitting at least a metre apart in lessons and social distancing is encouraged where possible, but not to the detriment of the children playing with their friends.
  • Teachers are supporting children fully, and where this means coming within 1 metre of the child and working next to children, they wear masks, aprons and gloves (PPE).
  • Daily cleaning of equipment/furniture is carried out; additional cleaning is taking place during the day.
  • Assemblies and swimming lessons are not currently taking place.
  • Sharing of equipment has been reduced to a minimum and is regularly cleaned by staff.
  • EHCP meetings may temporarily take place by Zoom if necessary.
  • Anyone in school showing symptoms will be isolated with staff in full PPE if it is a child; parents will be alerted and asked to collect them as soon as possible. They must then self-isolate for at least 10 days and should immediately arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19. Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms. Parents should remain in close contact with the school to let us know the outcome of the Covid-19 tests.
  • School will engage with the NHS Test and Trace process and Public Health England to manage confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 amongst the school community and to contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice.

School Attendance

As you know, the Government have decided that school attendance from September is once again compulsory. We believe that a return to school is vital for the children’s education, their sense of normality and for their wellbeing and are delighted that so many of our students have returned and indeed appear very happy and settled in school. We really missed the children and are keen to get back to normal and help them to learn to the best of their ability. Every class/subject teacher will start by establishing an educational baseline so we can identify where the children are at in their learning; we will work hard to steadily close any gaps in their educational progress.

Travelling to and from school

We have had some initial difficulties with transport this term. Whilethe Transport service has worked hard not to mix Primary and Secondary children on vehicles, we have had a number of guides off work which has affected routes. Thank you so much to all the parents who have managed to transport their children daily while these routes have been affected. We are hoping that things settle down soon and transport becomes more reliable.  Transport is also taking additional protective measures – guides are wearing PPE, additional cleaning of the vehicles is taking place and pupils are remaining on their vehicles on arrival at school until told to come in to school to ensure an orderly socially distanced entrance.

I will keep in contact with you about any further developments. Thank you again for your support in making this a successful return to school for all our young people.

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