She has overseen a complete rebuild of the school to cater for its present designation as well as its expansion to take in a Nursery, joint funded by KCC and working with Kings Farm Primary School in developing many new approaches to Nursery education. The school has also expanded to take in a purpose built sixth form working in conjunction with North West Kent College of Further Education and is now looking forward to a new 19-24 development beginning in September.
The school runs the county’s first SMILE Centre, a major outreach service, working with children in mainstream schools, offering training for teachers and other professionals along with parents of children from Ifield and others who need support for their children with SEN. This Ifield concept has now been spread across all districts of Kent. The school has also recently taken over the NW Kent area Specialist teaching Service from KCC. This service is responsible for outreach into mainstream schools, providing teachers for working with children with specific disabilities, including sight or hearing.
Under Pam’s leadership, the school has been awarded two consecutive ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED assessments, and many other awards all carrying Pam’s individual stamp including: Outstanding International School Award (and re-award) by the British Council; and Best SE School Team in the National Teaching Awards, and national finalist. She is an inspirational headteacher, her positive influence spreading far and wide. Pam’s qualities were first officially recognised by Kent County Council in 2007, when she was awarded the title of Kent Headteacher of The Year.
Talk with Pam and she will always place the praise for the school’s many achievements on teamwork by an outstanding staff and governing body, but even more importantly on the success stories of the pupils of Ifield who overcome so much and are an inspiration to staff and governors on a daily basis. She is very proud of the school’s record of training over 20 teachers on the Graduate Teacher Programme, and taking over 50 trainee teachers on placement since 2004. Many of these have subsequently joined Ifield School as teachers and gone on to outstanding success. 10 staff have been awarded Master’s Degrees. The school has seen many staff go on to senior posts elsewhere in the past ten years, for Ifield staff are highly employable, including five headteachers in all phases of education.
There is wide public recognition of Pam’s outstanding qualities, but you won’t hear of it from her, as she sees the team as so much more important. She is the Chair of the Kent Association of Headteachers, succeeding Christine Gilbert, previously Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools. She is Chair of the influential Kent Association of Special Schools, having been one of its founders, succeeding Roland Gooding, headteacher of the Valence Special School, who was awarded the OBE last year! She is a National Leader of Education, giving her and the school responsibility for supporting other schools in challenging circumstances. She is regularly asked to take part in national conferences on Special Education, the school frequently entertaining visitors keen to learn the secret of its success.
You will find another profile of Pam with many of her views on education, published in the Times Educational Supplement in 2009, here.
In spite of the many demands on her time, Pam places Ifield School firmly at the centre of her professional activity. Visitors first encounter the warmth and friendliness of her charm, but then soon realise she is very much a hands on leader who knows and wants to know everything that goes on at the school. She knows each child by name and background, and has time to spend with all.
There is no doubt that Ifield School, Special Education and education in Gravesham and Kent as a whole owe a great deal to Pam Jones, and I have only partially covered her activities, influence, and the schemes still bubbling from her. For Pam is a compassionate visionary, driven primarily by her passion to ensure that children with Special Educational Needs are given the very best provision to give them the best possible education and preparation for adult life.
I have been privileged to work with Pam from shortly after her appointment as headteacher of Ifield School when I was appointed a governor, subsequently carrying out six years as Chairman of Governors. Like all who come into contact with Pam, I have learned so much from her and her outstanding approach to education, special education, leadership, teamwork, vision and implementation of ideas. Congratulations and thank you, Pam.