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72


Jessica Alford


Head at Kingswear Primary School Interview by Steph Woolvin T


hey say size isn’t everything and that’s certainly true for Kingswear Primary. Nestled into the hillside with views overlooking the


Naval College, the school with it’s 76 pupils is small, charming and unassuming. Head Jess Alford says her job is to create a stable educational family but be ready to adapt and even lead the way when it comes to the constantly shifting and challenging National Curriculum. Steph Woolvin was called to the head’s office…. In the playground there’s warmth and energy as the


children run up to Miss A happy to tell her their news and keen to make her smile. 31 year old Jess may be a young head but you can tell she’s completely on top of things here at Kingswear. She has one eye on the comings and goings in the busy reception area and is half listening to the administrator’s telephone conversation about a pupil unable to make it in but doesn’t once falter when describing her aims and objectives.


Jess qualified in 2007 and started at Kingswear


Primary the following year teaching Reception, Year 1 and 2 (four - seven year olds). She says she always wanted to be a teacher: “There was never an alternative for me, I didn’t ever question it, I just knew I wanted


Kingswear Primary school pupils enjoying forest school.


to work with children. No two days are the same and each day you watch a child learn something new. It never fails to please me.” Her passion may have come from her dad, who was a lecturer at Plymouth City College. Jess lived with him, her mum and brother in Ashprington before moving to Paignton where she currently lives. She took the position of Head of Teaching and learning at Kingswear in 2013/14 and then moved up to Head of School last September. One of Jess’s first initiatives was the introduction of


a forest day. Every Monday the whole school relocates to a piece of land at the top of the hill. Kindly lent to them by farmers Edward and Emma Jones, it comes complete with an allotment, pond, bell tent and fire pit for toasting marshmallows. “I was determined to get the children up there,” says outdoor loving Jess. “Not all children thrive in a classroom environment and I believe no child should ever leave school thinking they’ve failed. Open space can go a long way towards addressing any anxiety or self esteem issues. It gives all children the chance to run, explore and learn about science, technology and engineering in a practical and exciting way. Whether they’re chopping wood, bird watching, building dens or creating animal feeders – they’re learning. I especially love watching the


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