THE first thing you notice when you enter North Town Primary School in Taunton is that everyone seems to be smiling - and there's a buzz of excitement.

The two-form entry school off Staplegrove Road currently has 505 pupils and nursery children on its roll.

It is part of the Richard Huish Trust with four other primaries, as well as Richard Huish College and Taunton Academy.

A recent survey showed 100 per cent of parents would recommend the nursery to other parents.

There are after-school clubs every day with sports, science and a choir and the prospect of further options in the near future.

The pupils compete in tournaments in the county in which they are taught "to try to win well, but also to lose well".

And they look at the local area with activities such as paddle boarding in French Weir and investigating the history of the town.

Pupils received visits from local charity representatives and enjoy "memorable experiences" such as visits to Plymouth Aquarium, Charterhouse, The Brewhouse Theatre, Kilve Beach and Vivary Park.

Sports day is taking part this month in French Weir Park, while upcoming events include a summer fete, a session for parents and carers of children starting next term and a Year 6 Shakespeare production.

Meeting the headteacher

Mark Braund took over as head at the start of this term.

He ensures senior members of staff are at the entrance gate every morning to welcome children.

Mr Braund said: "It's important that children come into school happy ready for their education and leave at the end of the day having had the best day possible.

"The children are enthusiastic and passionate about their education.

"We don't expect our classrooms to be quiet. We want them nice and busy."

He added: "We look to be part of the community, working with staff and families with a very supportive community.

"We're looking at more collaborative working with the trust and other schools across Taunton and continuing to build on the good work going on before.

"The relationship between staff and children and families is fantastic. We have an open door policy."


"Wellbeing is really important"


AS well as her deputy head role, Heidi Screech is also the senior mental health lead.

She has helped the school work towards the Optimus wellbeing award.

She said: "We had to show evidence of what we do to support children with their emotional health and wellbeing. It incorporates staff and families as well.

"We felt that now more than ever wellbeing is really important, particularly after the pandemic."

A Champions of Change team of pupils support other children across the school.

Mrs Screech added: "It's about encouraging everybody to support everybody, letting them know there are always people to talk to.

"It's the same with staff. We make sure they can have a quiet space and an opportunity to talk.

"We want to get rid of the stigma of mental health, to let everyone know it's alright to talk about it."

Deputy head keen to nurture talent

Deputy head Matt Kerton said: "We've been on a journey over the last 12 or 18 months redesigning the curriculum to make sure it's fit for the children.

"We focus a lot of our efforts on ensuring they get a balanced experience at school.

"We want them to be able to learn as many different subjects as possible so that their talents will come to the surface.

"We have initiatives such as a health week and sports day, as well as working with local sports clubs and community groups to give the children different opportunities they might otherwise not have had."


Nursery manager's role

JO Pear heads up a team of highly qualified staff at the nursery, which caters all year round for 28 two to four-year-olds per session.

She said: "We support children getting ready for the transition into school.

"We work closely with North Town School. We look at the children's readiness to make sure they are confident in all areas of their learning, ready for the step up into reception.

"We offer a variety of outdoor and indoor spaces, taking in the environment, language and learning.

"We can also offer apprenticeships for people wanting to start out in early years education."

The pupils

House captains Harry and Olivia, who are going on to secondary school in September, will look back on their time at North Town with fond memories.

Harry said: "I'll be sad to leave because it's a very encouraging school and I've got lots of friends.

"The teachers push you to get all the work done beautifully.

"My favourite lessons are history and learning about what's happened in the past."

Olivia, who is pursuing an interest in becoming a first aider, said: "The teachers encourage you to do a good job with your work and I like playing with my friends.

"I'll be sad to be leaving."