Hampstead School headteacher to drive national project to help children in need at school

Jacques Szemalikowski, headteacher of Hampstead School, Cricklewood, receives his ambassador certifi

Jacques Szemalikowski, headteacher of Hampstead School, Cricklewood, receives his ambassador certificate from Brian Lamb, chair of Achievement for All 3As and Professor Sonia Blandford, founder and CEO of Achievement for All 3As Picture: Anesta Broad Photgraphy. - Credit: Archant

A Camden head will spearhead a national programme to improve the progress of disadvantaged and disabled children in schools.

Jacques Szemalikowski, head of Hampstead School, Westbere Road, Cricklewood, is one of 18 headteachers to be selected as the first ambassadors for the Achievement for All programme.

Hampstead School was one of the first to pilot the project, funded by the Department for Education, about three years ago before the scheme was rolled out across the UK in 2012.

Schools on the programme track the behaviour, academic progress and welfare of children who are disadvantaged, disabled or have special educational needs and then attempt to address the issues highlighted.

As ambassador, Mr Szemalikowski and staff at the school will receive visits from teachers from across the UK and further afield to see how the scheme works, as well as going to other schools to give talks.

Mr Szemalikowski said: “I was chosen from quite a big selection so I was very pleased. But it isn’t about the headteacher or what the headteacher does, it’s about the staff who all work hard and it’s a recognition of that.”

In three years of leading the programme at the school, deputy headteacher Heather Daulphin has seen results from all pupils improve year on year.

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Children from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have special needs, traditionally the group of pupils least likely to make progress, have also seen their grades improve at the same rate as those achieving As and A*s. But the school does not only keep tabs on academic performance under the scheme.

Bullying, which can be a major cause of dips in results or behaviour, is at an all-time low as the programme also focuses on tracking the safety and welfare of children.

“For a long time, children who are the most vulnerable and who find school the most challenging would come in at a low level and because their expectations would be too low, they would not achieve what they would be capable of achieving,” Mr Szemalikowski said. “This programme shows that children are just as capable of achieving as the gifted and talented group and therefore of making a valuable contribution to society.”

“It’s about their improvement over time and the contribution they can make when they’re older to lead more fulfilling lives.”