School's new headteacher on wellbeing and helping pupils realise potential

Sharon Collins is Eastbury Community School's new executive headteacher

Sharon Collins is Eastbury Community School's new executive headteacher - Credit: Davina Dalrymple

A Barking school's new headteacher described the wellbeing of pupils and staff as “paramount” as she embarks on her new role.

Sharon Collins started her post of executive headteacher at Eastbury Community School on January 4 but was acting executive head during lockdowns. 

She said: “We had remote learning up and running by day one, when it was the January [lockdown in 2021]. We really concentrated on wellbeing, vulnerable pupils. 

“During lockdown we had sessions every day that kids could drop in and out of in terms of keeping fit and healthy, informing [pupils] of what was on in the local community as well.

"They had places that they could be signposted, where they could reach out for additional help: child and adolescent mental health services, bereavement clinics.” 

Education of wellbeing factors is something Ms Collins also said is important, including teaching ways to manage stress and informing pupils about child exploitation. 

“Because of Covid, I think a lot of young people have looked to gangs as a form of connecting, that's what we want to break.

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“Barking and Dagenham is an area of quite high deprivation. What we want to do is give [pupils] opportunities that perhaps they might not get elsewhere -  kids going to Oxford University, Cambridge.  

“We want all our kids to realise their potential, we need to encourage them to believe in themselves more. That really is the ethos of the school that I'm now driving forward.” 

She explained that extra-curricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award play into this in terms of broadening pupils' horizons and “widening their understanding of what they want to do”.  

This will be Ms Collins’ 19th year at the school and she has replaced David Dickson, who retired at the end of the Christmas term.

She said: “Over the course of the last [19 years] we have had a real focus on academic outcomes. Our sixth form is judged as outstanding and is one of the best in the country for progress.” 

In 2019, the sixth form was rated as the fifth best comprehensive for progress across the country by the government's performance tables.