Limehurst Academy, Loughborough in Leicestershire has been successfully assessed for this national award.
Achievement in a Caring Environment
Limehurst Academy is a successful school. It is a school that values “Achievement in a Caring Environment” and it is most definitely a happy and welcoming establishment. There is much to celebrate and more to achieve, such is the ethos of this school which is far from complacent.
The school’s mission statement “Achievement in A Caring Environment” underpins the school’s policy and practice. It is visible upon a large sign inside the school and it was evident from my discussion with the Headteacher, that this is a fundamental and non-negotiable tenet around which, the culture of the school is created. The Headteacher and SLT lead by positive example and set the tone for the supportive, caring framework. Governors are fully supportive of the school’s ethos, its values and its aims. Staff continuously model school expectations and have excellent relationships with learners throughout the whole school day. The school’s behaviour policy is predicated on having respect for each other and the environment and this is modelled by staff.
Walking around the school including visiting classrooms, revealed an abundance of beautifully presented displays. Much of the work on display was high quality, original artwork produced by students and a very impressive display of an award-winning product created by year 10 for Young Enterprise. There were displays that provided further evidence of the caring and inclusive nature of this school including young carers, Send my Friend to School, Autism Awareness, Islamic art, Indian art, KS3 awards and famous people with SEND, to name just a few.
ICT Enhances Teaching and Learning
The use of ICT effectively supports and enhances teaching and learning and it is regularly reviewed through lesson observation. Students have access to excellent ICT including 3 ICT rooms and 4 trolleys of laptops. There is a bank of 20 laptops and 10 iPad minis in SEN that can be signed out and used by learners across the year groups and subject areas to support their learning. Large numbers of KS4 students have the use of a laptop as their access arrangements. All classrooms have interactive whiteboards which are well used by teachers to provide varied, enjoyable and stimulating lessons. iPads are used for individual needs e.g. use of dictation software to type, FM Hearing system used for student with APD, keyboard with enlarged letters on available for students with VI.
Support for students’ learning is very good as Teaching Assistants (TAs) are skilled and carefully deployed. Planning is thorough and collaborative between TAs and teachers and TAs produce a ‘record of support’ after each lesson. The work of TAs and other classroom support is shown clearly to make an important contribution to supporting student progress for both SEN and EAL learners.
The Importance of Attendance
Limehurst places particularly high importance on improving the attendance and therefore the achievement of disadvantaged students. Attendance data shows sustained improvement of whole school attendance. Leaders have made raising the aspirations of disadvantaged students concerning their future careers a priority and they are a key focus.
Excellent Student Behaviour
I attended Y7 assembly during the morning of my first day and was impressed by the behaviour of the students as they filed in and sat attentively in an extremely hot hall on one of the hottest days of the year. The theme of the assembly was “Making the best of ourselves” and students engaged respectfully and responsibly. The assembly proceeded and reminded students that they should “Be kind”, “Show respect” and Believe in yourself”. The assembly ended with the celebration of achievement in Drama.
Dedicated Hard Working Staff
This is a school that is providing a very good experience for its pupils and their families. All staff are dedicated, work hard and are very skilled at what they do. Outcomes are good and improving. There is a clear sense of warmth and an ethos and culture that ensures that everyone is respected and offered every opportunity to achieve their potential. The school most definitely lives up to its motto “Achievement in a Caring Environment”. That said, it is far from complacent and is constantly seeking to improve and share its practice. It was a pleasure to visit this inspiring school.
Rigorous Quality Assurance
There is rigorous quality assurance which, combined with very high expectations, allows senior leaders and governors to challenge and support other staff. Each subject leader has a Data, Outcomes and Tracking (DOTs) folder which contains subject monitoring information. Included within these folders are data analysis of key groups, which individuals and groups are being targeted, interventions taking place, marking trawls, strategic seating plans and record of notes of regular meetings within the department as well as with line managers.
Lessons are differentiated to meet students’ needs including differentiated learning outcomes, the use of questioning to extend learning, the setting of homework, assessment opportunities, reading, writing, communication and maths and SMSC are all part of the planning process. Analysis of lesson observations shows that teaching is characterised by thorough lesson planning, strong subject knowledge and excellent teacher/student relationships fostering very positive student engagement. Behaviour for learning is excellent. Evaluation of lesson observations focuses on the impact on learning which informs provision of targeted CPD sessions focusing on raising student achievement. There is an annual training plan based upon whole school priorities which this year are challenging more able learners; improving the achievement of white, British boys; consistency in marking and feedback; continuing to improve attendance; consistent approach to behaviour management. Each member of staff conducts an audit against the teachers’ professional standards.
Staff are available to translate and interpret for parents. Languages spoken by staff include Guajarati, Bengali, Polish, Italian, French, Spanish and German. Meetings can take place with an interpreter e.g. Gujarati interpreter attends all meetings for a LAC. There is a dedicated ‘Prayer Room’ which students and parents told me was used well by students.
Positive Relationships with Parents
Positive and consistent relationships with parents are central to the ethos of the school. Proactive contact with parents is excellent and parents see the school as open and welcoming. Parents are very supportive of, and take a keen interest in, the school. Parents I spoke to were very supportive of the school and spoke eloquently about their experience of the school and its caring ethos. They were particularly appreciative of the efforts and positive relationship they had forged with the SENCo.
Vital Home School Links
Vital home school links through Home School Liaison Officers also allow students where no English is spoken at home and those who are vulnerable to be regularly monitored. A key focus for Home School liaison is working with the disadvantaged students and their families so offering further support for this key cohort. Parent group sessions for those who need extra support to ensure clear communication are an important part of the home/school relationship. These groups are a vital part of building support, confidence and access for parents who face many barriers in responding to the needs of their children, both at home and school.
Governing Body Committed to Inclusion
In discussion with governors it was clear that the governing body is committed to the inclusive nature of the school and fully supports the “can do” policy and the ethos of “Achievement in a Caring Environment.
Governors Hold Senior Leaders to Account
The governors hold the senior leadership team to account via regular full and sub-committee meetings. In addition, governors have also set up their own work streams to complement the work of the senior leadership team. In addition to other meetings, the Chair of Governors meets with the Headteacher very regularly. The Governing Body is very effective in challenging its own performance in order to raise achievement of students. It has an action plan for supporting school improvement which includes sections on achievement and outcomes for all groups of students, parental engagement, behaviour and welfare.
Limehurst Academy is committed to providing all students with access to a wide range of inclusive activities, both in school and in the local community. A dedicated member of staff makes links with local businesses, colleges and universities to give students access to taster sessions and experiences of relevant further education and employment. This support is to raise their aspirations. Consequently, all students in the first Year 11 cohort found an appropriate place in further education or training. I was given a long and impressive list of activities that had run this year.
Working with the Local and Wider Community
Limehurst forms strong and long standing links with a wide range of different organisations within the local and wider community. The Headteacher has spent five years as chair of the North Charnwood Learning Partnership (NCLP), which is a collaborative of nine secondary schools, two special schools, Loughborough College and the University of Loughborough. The partnership is focused on improving the provision for students in Loughborough and the surrounding areas.
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)
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