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Why Choose Us?

A school where the sky is the limit...

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Our School Context

We are a 2-11 school with approximately 450 pupils, serving a fantastic community in the south of Sheffield.  

We are lucky enough to be a part of Mercia Learning Trust, who provide us with outstanding support in a whole variety of ways. 

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Each classroom is led by caring, passionate and talented professionals who care deeply about the wellbeing and growth of every child in their care.  We celebrate the uniqueness of our children and support them to thrive in confidence and flourish in individuality.

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What our families say

I say to everyone how amazing my girls' new headteacher is and how much she's done for our school. She's an absolute credit to our community.

N Root, parent

I am so glad my daughter started this school when she did. I have to be honest, the reputation Valley Park had in 2019 made me avoid putting it on her admissions form, even though it was our catchment school. After a lot of thought I changed my mind at the last minute. It was the best decision for both her and me. She is excelling and loving school.

Mrs Johnstone has turned the school around in such a short time, we can't wait to be part of the Woodlands community and see the school grow into something wonderful. Thank you to the staff for making the school what it is today!

J Bennett, parent 

Woodlands is a primary school where children are supported emotionally, socially and academically.

They have a fantastic team of teachers and support staff, led by a fabulous headteacher that all want the very best for each and every child.

Parents are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings and the school ensures they work with families to see that all the children are happy.

K Simpson, parent

Woodlands offers a calming environment, enthusiastic teaching and constructive support.

I particularly love the “back to nature” approach and forest school.

My son is really happy here and he’s continually progressing, not just academically but socially and emotionally too.

K Scothorne Allen, parent

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High Expectations of Excellence — Nothing But the Best

Alongside our nurturing approach, therapeutic offer and inclusive environment, we also have high expectations of excellence, and accept nothing but the best from every child.  The curriculum is exceptional and something that we are very proud of. 

Every subject area of the curriculum is meticulously planned and sequenced towards high quality endpoints, by highly experienced teachers who put the children at the centre of every decision they make.  Children spend their days developing new language and exploring and engaging in new experiences through awe and wonder.  

This exclusive curriculum paired with the passion to create happy, healthy individuals means that children are equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence that they need not only to succeed in their education but to thrive throughout their adult life. 

Reading is the beating heart of our curriculum.  We know that for our children, reading is their gateway into unfamiliar places, other people and knowledge of the world and vocabulary.  Every day we strive to ignite their ‘word curiosity’ and increase their ‘word hoard’.

We ensure pupils ‘learn to read’ through the systematic teaching of phonics, building in plenty of opportunities to build reading fluency... until pupils achieve reading automaticity and become fully independent readers; able to ‘read to learn’.

Alongside this we instil and nurture an absolute love of reading from the very start.  ‘A time to read’ is sacrosanct; in every classroom, every day, story time happens where everything stops…and a book is read aloud and shared for pleasure.

Personal Development and Character

The personal development of our children is of the utmost importance to each and every one of us.  The Spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding of children has a huge impact on the levels of employability and career opportunities as they grow into adulthood.  The direct teaching and development of character builds positive attributes in all children. 

As part of our curriculum, children are actively encouraged to develop their confidence and self-awareness. Teachers work closely with children as they develop their skills enabling them to recognise their own strengths and to develop a positive sense of self. 

In our beautiful outdoor provision, children are exposed to opportunities where they are able to manage risk in their play and have opportunities to push themselves into achieving their own goals as well as creating a foundation for a healthy body which contributes to social and emotional wellbeing. 

We believe that our approach to developing character begins as soon as a child starts with us at two years old in Ladybirds and with our nurture, love and care, our children are able to flourish into successful and integral members of our community. 

Attachment, Relationships, Love and Care

The staff here understand the importance of early attachments and work alongside BAPT registered therapists to deepen their knowledge and skill-base regularly so that everything that we do builds relationship and demonstrates love and care for each and every child who enters our doors.  

In the classroom, learning is always our focus but we know that children can only learn if they have their basic needs met first.  Children start the day with family breakfast every morning and take part in mindfulness activities, which can include meditation and yoga. We regularly learn about the zones of regulation, explore our feelings and emotions and learn how to manage these.  We all prioritise attachments and understand the importance of relationships.  Every interaction that we have with a child, whether it's within the classroom, walking past them on the corridor, or playing games with them at lunchtime, is important.


We know how important nurture is to children, and the impact that it can have upon the attachment and relationships within school.  Alongside the standard primary classroom provisions that we have here, we also have a full-time nurture provision run by accredited Nurture UK members of staff who dedicate their time to developing and teaching the six principles of nurture.  

The main purpose of Nurture is to assess social and emotional needs so that we can provide the help and support that is needed to remove the barriers to learning. As the children learn academically and socially they develop confidence, become responsive to others, learn self-respect and take pride in behaving well and in achieving.


Inclusion is one of our main priorities.  Inclusive education values diversity and the unique contributions each child brings to the classroom. In a truly inclusive setting, every child feels safe and has a sense of belonging. This is something we work hard at and consequently pride ourselves on. 

We are a school that goes above and beyond for children with additional needs or vulnerabilities.  Every member of staff spends the time getting to know every child they work with so that they can be provided with the best possible support available for them and their needs.  Classroom staff work closely with the Inclusion Lead and SENDCo to ensure they are supporting children in the classroom with needs such as dyslexia, ASD, ADHD, sensory processing issues and attachment needs.

Coaching, Reflection and Therapeutic Language

We are a coaching school, and value coaching at every level.  We believe that coaching allows for reflection, empowers staff and children and emphasises the importance of personal development.  Senior Leaders coach teachers to develop their practice, teachers and support staff coach children during learning and for behaviour support.  As part of our therapeutic offer, we work with highly trained play and filial therapists and art therapists. These therapies are used as a way of helping children express their feelings and deal with difficult life experiences, including developmental trauma, through a self-guided and collaborative process.

Our Knowledge for Life classroom supports children with EHC Plans with the life skills they need to be successful, alongside the appropriate academic knowledge for their age and stage. The use of therapeutic and reflective language with the children in KfL promotes a deeper understanding of emotions and provides social and emotional learning opportunities for those who struggle with that element of life the most.          

Wellbeing and Mental Health 

We are passionate about the positive impact that nature and outdoors can have on the mental health and wellbeing of children and adults.  We are lucky enough to have the most fantastic outdoor space wrapped around our school, and therefore find ways to use every part of it at every opportunity.  Our PE Leader is a fully trained Forest School practitioner and drives our outdoor learning.

Forest School and Outdoor Learning

Outdoor learning could potentially increase pupil progress by an average of nine months' extra schooling

DfES, 2006

Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. Forest School programmes aim to develop the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner.  

Play and free choice are an integral part of the Forest School learning process, and play is recognised as vital to learning and development at Forest School.  Reflective practice is a feature of each session to ensure learners and practitioners can understand their achievements, develop emotional intelligence and plan for the future.

Proud of Who We Are

Every single one of us is proud of who we are.  We learn about the ancient Woodlands in Gleadless Valley and our historical roots and love where our school is located.  We fully embrace the surrounding woodlands and wherever possible and attempt to bring the outdoors inside.  We see our 2-year-olds as the seeds and our oldest children as the mighty trees that they can become.  

From tiny seeds grow might trees

Our children aim to become intelligent talkers, insatiable readers and impeccably behaved inclusive citizens. We are with them every step of the way, and we would love for you to join us!