OWEN WILDER: BUILDING REAL COMMUNITY
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye / Photos supplied by Trinity CofE VA Primary & Nursery School
Vision is an amazing thing. Whether personal, professional or societal, it gives energy, purpose, meaning and focus to groups of otherwise different people. Equally, the lack of it can sap the life out of individuals, organisations and communities.
Owen Wilder, Headteacher of Trinity CofE VA Primary & Nursery School in Exeter, has it in spades and is expertly leading a brand-new school at the heart of a brand-new community in Exeter.
His role as Headteacher of Trinity is the culmination of a twenty-year journey in education, moving from a large London primary school to Sampford Peverell Primary School, eleven years ago. He then became the Head Teacher of St. Leonards Primary School in Exeter before, eighteen months ago taking on his role at Trinity.
Due to a building delay for the brand-new school, it started its life in the nearby Community Centre, where they had sixteen children, three teachers and one room. With use of the room limited to 8am-4pm each day, they had to operate as a ‘pop-up school’ for their first year, setting up and packing down every single day.
Despite these challenges, Owen talked inspirationally about how he had wanted to establish excellence from day one at the school. From adopting a non-traditional approach to mealtimes (treating them more like a family meal than the usual ‘herding’ experience of a school dinner hall) to intentionally considering the layout, design and implementation of furniture and facilities, Trinity have thought through their whole operation with great detail and with their pupils, teachers and parents wellbeing in mind.
Owen has also worked hard to source funding, connect with local businesses and think outside the usual boxes to make their school commercially viable and operationally efficient. Whether it is their FA-approved junior football pitch (complete with drainage and floodlights) or their audio-visual setup in their main hall (professionally kitted out with top-end equipment for performances, screenings and functions), their pursuit of future-proofed excellence is truly impressive.
Also, central to the value system of the school are their Christian values, their commitment to sustainability and their focus on holistic individual wellbeing. Every small detail has been thought through including their aim to be a single-use-plastic-free school, their bathrooms being fitted with the most environmentally-friendly hand dryers in the world and their teachers having four times the industry standard in training and development.
At present, they have a full nursery and one class per primary school year (from years one to six). Once fully subscribed though, they will have the nursery and a total of 420 primary students. It is and will continue to be a thriving, positive, caring, excellent, holistic educational establishment.
Let’s put it this way. If I lived in Exeter, my three children would be going to this school. As a parent, you can’t give a more ringing endorsement of a school than that really, so that just goes to show how impressed I was when I went for a tour recently.
If you think Trinity sounds like the type of school for you and your children, or if you think your business could partner with the school to help build a better future for Exeter, visit www.trinityprimaryexeter.co.uk to find out more.