Astmoor Primary School in Halton has recently had its first assessment for the national award in inclusion.
Astmoor is a smaller than average primary school (currently 142 on roll) including a nursery of 14 children who attend the school in the morning. The school is situated in the heart of Castlefields community and shares its site with an adult learning centre and private day nursery. In the most recent OFTSED report the school was recognised as ‘excelling in its effort to support vulnerable pupils and families’.
A Special Family
From visiting the school, it was evident that from the moment you enter the building, you become part of a special family that promotes a holistic approach to children, providing a wealth of opportunities in an area of significant deprivation. For the many children whose lives present barriers on a day-to-day basis, the school shines as a beacon, guiding and nurturing the children whilst offering them hope and aspiration and a determination to be the best that they can be.
The Building Blocks for a Better Start in Life
Astmoor is the building blocks for a better start in life. The vision of the school community shone through with a deep-rooted desire to build trust, strength, resilience and a future for their pupils. A thriving primary school that is outward facing and there for the children and their families. The headteacher, governors and staff are rightly proud of their inclusive environment. The school showcases its artistic talents to provide a visually stimulating and vibrant environment that acknowledges and celebrates the uniqueness of its pupils.
“We Save Lives Here”
A very powerful and emotive message was given to me during my visit, ‘We save lives here’. That was not said lightly. The school is pro-active in seeking better outcomes for their children, including leading the way in the local authority as a school that offers outstanding provision for children in care. This is led by the passion of the headteacher who is herself, a member of the Children in Care Board and has been instrumental in devising personal education plans that are used in Halton. Indeed, every member of staff in the school wants the best for the children and they really do go the extra mile. In the words of the children, ‘we are a responsible school, the teachers ensure we are always safe’. The staff are united in the passion they have for their school, so much so, that one member of staff said if they are ever off, they feel like they are missing out! The desire to be a part of the school is infectious.
Sources of Evidence
This was the school’s first assessment visit and was conducted over one day during which I had the privilege of meeting with:-
• Head Teacher, Mrs. Louisa Aldridge.
• Members of the Senior Leadership Team.
• IQM Co-ordinator.
• Family Support Worker.
• School Governor/Site Manager.
• Support staff.
• Pupils, including representatives of the School Council.
• Complementary Therapist.
The Learning Environment
The school hosts extensive grounds and places equal importance in learning both in and out of the classroom. There is such a calm and welcoming feel to the school as I experienced first-hand throughout my visit. I was given a full tour of the school and was able to then spend time in:-
• All teaching areas including the nursery.
• Therapy Room.
• ICT suite.
• Intervention rooms.
Outside spaces included both key stage playground areas and the field and orchard.
The school has excellent indoor and outdoor facilities including a designated area for the school pet! It has plans to extend the outdoor environment with future plans being discussed for a forest school site. Everyone cares about the school environment and both staff and pupils take responsibility for looking after it. This was further evidence of how the community works together.
The IQM Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school is comprehensive and gives an accurate description of the truly inclusive ethos evident throughout the school. During the visit, it was evident that the undertaking of the IQM was indeed a journey and had evidenced the embedded practices of the school. These have been recognised by external agencies who see the commitment and contribution the school makes to providing effective care and provision. Through its own rigorous self-assessment and reflective practice, the school is fully aware of areas to develop, but more importantly, is striving to ensure these quickly become key strengths. The evidence presented to me indicates that significant progress has already been made and will continue to be.
Fully Supportive Governors
Governors are fully supportive of the school and care about the well-being of the pupils and the staff at Astmoor. They share the compassion that teachers have and clearly understand the needs of the children also. There is a strong leadership structure sitting beneath this which ensures that all members of the school community embed inclusion as part of the school ethos – it is not just an ‘add on’. All are clearly motivated and strive to offer all pupils the best possible educational opportunities.
Commitment to Develop Inclusion Further
The evidence presented to me during my visit to the school and information contained within the Self Evaluation Report, clearly demonstrates the inclusive practice in place within the school and the on-going commitment to develop this further. It was an absolute pleasure to visit the school and to be given the opportunity to experience at first hand such a safe, yet vibrant, stimulating and motivational environment that reaches out to all pupils and their families. As an IQM assessor I was made to feel extremely welcome and included in all aspects of the daily life of the school, including learning some sign language! My sincere thanks must go to everyone who generously gave their time during the IQM assessment. I hope that the children, parents and professionals I met at the school will understand that each of them contributed to a very positive IQM assessment outcome.
A Brighter Future for Their Children
I am strongly of the opinion that Astmoor Primary School fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark. They should be proud of all that they have to offer and how their school serves the community and is making the future brighter for all their children.
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: [email protected] for further details.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.