Knotty Ash Primary School in Liverpool has become an IQM Centre of Excellence.
Context of the School
Knotty Ash is a one form entry primary school on the outskirts of Liverpool. There are currently 233 children on roll and the school has a nursery offering 15 or 30-hour places. The school has the region’s only resourced provision for deaf children which is fully integrated into the school. This accommodates 14 children and offers places to children seeking specialist education from authorities throughout the North West. The school places itself at the heart of the community and is a beacon for nurturing children with special educational needs. All children who attend Knotty Ash Primary School from Nursery to year 6 learn British Sign Language and for me, it was both a privilege and a pleasure to witness first-hand what a profound impact this has on the whole community.
A Warm Welcome
On arrival I was greeted with a warm welcome and immediately felt part of the school family. Throughout the day, without exception, everyone I met displayed the same warmth and helped to make my visit such a special and enriching experience. It is fair to say that Knotty Ash Primary has inclusivity running through their school, it is their ‘golden thread’ as one staff member described. One of the most noticeable things was the fact that you could not differentiate who was who within the school staffing structure. There was no division. Everyone had a special relationship that made you feel as if you were a part of an extended family. The children exude happiness and described their school experience here as ‘amazing’. Parents with whom I met became emotional when conveying to me all the school has done for them. This assessment visit was certainly no ‘box ticking’ exercise to gain an award, it meant the world to every member of the community that their ethos and understanding of every child’s uniqueness was recognised and their drive to be inclusive was a journey they had undertaken with great passion and dedication and one that would not stop.
The Learning Environment
This was the school’s first assessment visit and was conducted over one day during which I had the privilege of meeting with – the Head Teacher, Roanne Clements-Bedson, SEN team, representatives of the governing body including the Chair of Governors, staff members, the head of the deaf resource base, pupils across the school and a selection of parents. I was invited to access all parts of the school including – specialist classrooms for intervention, the deaf resource base, all key stage teaching areas including the nursery, the family room, library areas. Outside spaces included: both key stage playground areas and the secret garden area!
The school makes excellent use of the extensive grounds and is constantly looking to add to the amazing variety of resources. The school uses ‘pupil power’ effectively to ensure that the children are at the heart of all decision making. They are bursting with pride about all Knotty Ash Primary has to offer.
Truly Inclusive Ethos
The IQM Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school is extremely comprehensive and gives an accurate description of the truly inclusive ethos evident throughout the school. Progress is evident across all eight areas of the report and the evidence presented is not standalone showing just how much the inclusive ethos is embedded. The school is whole-heartedly committed to continuing its journey being outward facing and supporting the community. Through its own rigorous self-assessment and development planning, the school has a strong desire to develop its inclusive vision further. The evidence presented to me indicates that significant progress has already been made and will continue to be.
Passionate and Committed to Inclusion
The school has a passionate headteacher, who is committed to inclusion at every level. She is currently studying for her Masters in Deaf Education with the full support of the governing body who recognise her desire to ensure the resource base continues to serve as an outstanding provision in the region. At the heart of any school decisions is her desire to serve the community and ensure the school is there for the children and their families. The staff are behind her 100% and strive to go that extra mile. Everyone from staff to volunteers want to make that difference each day. As one of the parents noted ‘it’s the little things they do that make the big difference’. All staff recognise this drive comes from the top and there is the utmost respect for the school leaders. The open-door policy is evidently highly valued and respected by parents. The team approach fully involves all stakeholders and ensures a solid foundation for life-long learning. Indeed, everyone at Knotty Ash shares the same vision; inclusion is not something you do but something you breathe, and here at Knotty Ash you live and breathe it throughout your visit.
Inclusion in Action
During my visit I did not have to see any paper-based evidence other than the Self-Evaluation Report. as the school clearly demonstrated inclusion in action. This document clearly demonstrates the outstanding practice in place within the school and the on-going commitment to inclusion. The school is looking at continuing its journey through applying for Centre of Excellence Status and already has a clear vision to sustain and develop their strong inclusive practice.
A Pleasure and a Privilege
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to visit Knotty Ash Primary. I would like to thank the pupils, staff, governors and parents who gave their time to speak to me and especially the Headteacher who arranged the assessment visit and took the time out of what is already an extremely busy point in the school year. Her careful preparation made the whole day progress efficiently and smoothly.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
If your school is interested in obtaining the IQM Inclusive School Award or you wish to talk to a member of the IQM team please telephone:
028 7127 7857 (9.00 am to 5.00 pm)
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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