Welcome to our School

A message from Helen Porter, Headteacher

Find useful information on coronavirus and the updated risk assessment for the return to school here

Find information on Priestley Smith’s Remote Learning Offer during Lockdown here

Head Teacher’s letter to Parents and Carers, Return to School Arrangements March 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are delighted that, in line with government guidance, the students will be returning to school from 8th March 2021 onwards.

In order to carry out all the Secondary COVID testing arrangements, we will be implementing a phased return.

Monday 8th March:        

  • All Primary return
  • Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) and Key Stage 5 (Years 12, 13 and 14) return
  • Secondary students who are currently attending continue to attend.
  • All other KS3 pupils remain at home and continue home learning

Wednesday 10th March:               

  • Key Stage 3 students (Years 7, 8 and 9) return, so ALL Secondary pupils will then be back at school.

This phased return will enable us to carry out the three sets of testing required for Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 students on Tuesday 9th, Friday 12th and the following Tuesday 16th March and the testing of Key Stage 3 students on Thursday 11th, Monday 15th and Thursday 18th March. It is vital that the Secondary student testing consent forms, sent out with this letter, are returned to school by Monday 8th March (Key Stages 4 and 5) and Wednesday 10th March (Key Stage 3) at the latest. Primary students are NOT being tested.

Once these three sets of school testing have been completed for both Secondary groups, testing will then be carried out at home by families twice weekly. We would ask you please to ensure that these home tests are carried out regularly and carefully to ensure that your child is safe and well and to ensure the continued safety of all students and staff in school. If any of you experience difficulties with the home testing kits, please let us know and we will try to help you. If your child tests positive it is important that they then take a routine PCR test which you will book in the usual way, and self-isolate until either a negative result is returned or until the end of the self-isolation period if positive.

When the children return to school on either 8th or 10th March, we will revert to the systems we had in place in the Autumn Term. We will continue to operate as two separate bubbles – one Primary and one Secondary. The children in the two bubbles will have no contact with each other and will have no contact with the other students on site in different schools.  Therapists, Braille teachers and Habilitation Officers will work with both Primary and Secondary students but never on the same day. They will work with Primary students one day and Secondary another, so protecting the bubbles. All students will once again eat in classrooms to avoid mixing with students from other schools.

For a temporary period of time, Primary students will once again finish at 1 p.m. on Fridays to enable Primary staff to have statutory Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time but Secondary will finish at their normal time of 3.20 p.m. 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 Secondary staff are in a separate bubble. Instead these lessons will be 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 further, we can return to normal timings.

This will be reviewed on 17th May 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 group 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.

All Secondary students will be asked to wear face masks at school and in vehicles, as in the Autumn Term, but any children who are unable to do so due to medical or SEND issues will be exempt from this. Please provide your child with a clean face mask daily.

Almost all school staff have now received their first vaccination and are awaiting their second. Both Primary and Secondary staff are also tested by lateral flow testing.

Protective Measures

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

  • Parents should please continue to take their child’s temperature before they get on transport and keep them at home if it is higher than normal. Parents/carers should also check for other symptoms daily- a new, persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • All staff and pupils will continue to have their temperatures taken on entry to the school.
  • Use of hand sanitiser and handwashing will be a frequent routine throughout the school day.
  • The school will ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  • Pupils will sit 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.
  • Staff will support children fully, and where this means coming within 1 metre of the child and working next to children, they will wear masks, aprons and gloves (full PPE).
  • Daily cleaning of equipment/furniture will be carried out; additional cleaning will take place during the day.
  • Assemblies and swimming lessons will not currently take place.
  • Sharing of equipment will be reduced to a minimum and will be regularly cleaned by staff.
  • EHCP meetings will take place by Zoom where 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 the child immediately. 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 10 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 March 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. We have really missed all 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 again start by establishing 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

The Transport service are working hard not to mix Primary and Secondary children on vehicles, wherever possible. 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.

Home Learning Work

We have had some work posted or emailed back, but a good deal has not yet been returned. It is vital your child returns to school with the work they have completed so we can assess where they are up to and how to ensure strong progress going forward. Please help them pack their bags with this work the night before returning.

I will keep in contact with you about any further developments.

Thank you in advance for your support in making the March return to school a successful one 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 in an emergency 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