Ashdown Primary School in East Sussex has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Ashdown Primary School is a larger than average primary school across two sites in the Crowborough area of Kent. There are 444 pupils on roll: around 9% are on pupil premium, a small number of children have EAL and there are a few looked after children. There are children with a range of different needs in the school with around 20% of children on the SEND and vulnerable register.
A Warm, Friendly Atmosphere
The school is very welcoming with a warm, friendly atmosphere throughout. The environment inside the school is bright and very positive with beautiful displays, reflecting the school’s inclusive ethos in the corridors and classrooms. The outside areas are wonderful spaces for children to play and learn together with woodland/ forest school areas. The strong leadership of the Executive Headteacher, Heads of School and SLT sets the tone for the supportive, caring, inclusive framework with high expectations of all and they are rigorous in ensuring that the school’s inclusive vision is implemented and thoroughly embedded in the life of the school. The SLT lead by positive, enthusiastic example and oversee all aspects of inclusion: staff, pupils and parents are genuinely listened to and respected with the result that everyone works hard as a team to achieve the best possible outcomes for children. Although the school is on two sites – one for infants and one for juniors – there is consistency across the school in terms of both leadership structure and policy and practice. The school’s Inclusion Manager and SENDCO who work across both sites, play a very important role in developing the school’s excellent support for children with SEND and those on pupil premium or with other needs and they work very closely with parents and families. The inclusion of children with SEND and a range of other needs is excellent with pupils’ individual needs at the forefront.
Meeting Pupils’ Individual Needs
Teaching and support staff work very well together to do their very best for all pupils. They spend a lot of time in planning thoroughly to meet their pupils’ individual needs and an innovative new planning format means that, instead of marking, they analyse pupils’ work carefully and provide daily detailed feedback to pupils on their work at the start of the next lesson. Staff are positive and energetic and are fully committed to the pupils and to the school. They speak very highly of inclusive practices in the school.
A Common Inclusive Vision
They share a common inclusive vision and they feel they have excellent support and resources to enable them to do their work,
“I like being part of a team. Everyone is upbeat and together. Everyone has your back and there is high morale on both sites. It comes from the top – we all want to do the best for the children. People are honest – if you need more time or support you get it. There are no queries and it works both ways.”
Encouraging Staff Development
Staff are encouraged and enabled to develop their skills through a range of CPD opportunities and regular staff meetings and team meetings have a strong focus on teaching and learning and strategies to meet pupils’ needs. Support staff play a crucial role in the school, providing much needed support for pupils in class, through interventions, providing cover for teachers as HLTAs, running clubs and supervising children at lunchtime, including dealing with incidents through restorative justice,
“We feel valued – we can suggest things and they will trial them”,
“We support each other. We like working at the school – we all care about the children and we’re very resourceful.”
Lessons are Interesting and Challenging
Lessons are planned in detail, ensuring they are interesting and challenging for everyone and there are many imaginative and exciting activities planned for pupils. Extracurricular activities are also varied and plentiful with a range of clubs, trips and visits planned for children.
Pupils are very happy, self-confident, friendly and enthusiastic and behave very well around the school, in their lessons and in the playground. They speak very highly of their school and its staff, for whom they have great respect and they know that they are listened to and cared for. Pupils enjoy learning and they explain how the teachers encourage them and make learning fun. There are opportunities for pupils to take on roles of responsibility in the school and to help in school, including via the school council. Comments made by pupils include –
“I like this school because the teachers are always kind and caring and if we’re stuck they will help you”,
“If we’re good, we get a hot chocolate with the Headteacher and a special place at her table”,
“I like following the golden rules”,
“I like the reading corners and lots of fun books”,
“We go on trips and it’s very exciting to go to our new classes each year”,
“I like that they treat everyone fairly”,
“There are loads of clubs and everybody can be friends”,
“All the teachers are very encouraging – they do different things and they are always good at what they do”,
“All the staff are very supportive, caring and loving”,
“Everybody is included and there is good support – nobody is left out and you will never be bored because there is always something good to do.”
Progress is Rigorously Monitored
Progress is rigorously monitored with the new lesson planning format identifying areas that pupils need to focus on through daily feedback and support that is given to pupils at the start of the next lesson. Pupil development review meetings are effective in ensuring that action is taken to support any pupils who are underachieving or struggling in any way. As a result, interventions are tailored to individual needs and are monitored very carefully and adjusted as appropriate. Pupil passports are provided for children with SEND and this ensures that pupils know their targets and that all staff who come into contact with the children know what their needs are and what they should be working to achieve. There are rewards for pupils to celebrate their many accomplishments, which they are very proud and pleased to receive. The best work of all children is displayed in classrooms on ‘Wow Walls’ every term to celebrate their achievements.
Excellent Relationships with Parents
The school has fostered excellent relationships with parents and it finds many ways to communicate with them and to involve them in the life of the school. Parents speak very highly of the school and its staff. A group of parents spoken to, including those whose children have additional needs, explained the thorough, caring and effective approach that the school takes towards meeting their children’s needs. The school listens to its parents and holds a number of workshops and ‘meet the teacher’ events to support parents in supporting their children. There is strong PTA, that organises events and fundraising activities, such as fairs, discos, film nights, shows and comedy nights and there is also a parent forum, which ensures parents are consulted on a range of issues. Parents volunteer to help in various ways at the school, including reading and cooking with children and often move on from this to become members of support staff. This helps to build the strong community around the school. Parents feel that communication with the school is excellent: the Heads of School and other staff are always available to speak with parents. Comments from parents included,
“I can’t fault the school – the SENDCO, Heads of School and class teachers have worked amazingly well with me and when there are concerns regarding my child, we all put our heads together”,
“There is fantastic support for my child, for example, the nurture group at lunchtimes that he loves”,
“He used to be upset all the time but he is happy now because they understand him. He has extra transition support, which helps him in moving to juniors”,
“Things that have helped my child are free flow to start with in year 1, social stories, rest breaks and transition help each year”,
“They go above and beyond, for example, they help us to fight for the best equipment for my child and they take him by car on school trips to make sure he can go”,
“Transition is excellent with pictures of the new teachers to talk about over the summer. He has a pupil passport so everyone knows what his needs are and how to meet them. It’s reassuring to know that everyone knows him. We have resources that we can use at home so there is a lot of consistency. We’re on the same page.”
Good Community Links
The school has good links with the local community and with other local schools, including the main secondary school to which pupils transfer. The Executive Headteacher works with a group of other schools in Kent to provide advice on attendance and exclusion. The school is part of a cluster of 40 schools with 2 hub leaders among the school’s staff helping disseminate the school’s excellent practice across the group of schools. All staff, parents, governors and pupils spoken to were extremely positive about the school’s work. There is a very genuine sense of team effort, of mutual support, of listening, discussing and of including everyone. The Governing Body is fully committed to the school’s vision and they play a very positive, active and supportive role in the school. The Chair of Governors explained the strong ethos of inclusion in the school,
“Teachers go above and beyond to make sure all children are getting what they need.”
Exceptional Features of the School
Exceptional features of this school include the overall ethos of inclusion and positive leadership of the Executive Headteacher and Heads of School; the superb behaviour and positive attitudes of pupils; the positive partnership with parents that helps build a supportive community; the excellent work of the Inclusion Manager and SENCO to support needy children and those with SEND; the thorough transition work at all stages; the positive teamwork of SLT, teaching and support staff to enable all children to develop self-confidence and achieve.
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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