Bansham Manor School in Croydon has achieved IQM Flagship Status for the second time.
Context of the School
Bensham Manor is a larger Secondary Special School with 200 pupils on roll. The pupils have complex learning needs including a large proportion with autism. The catchment area includes Croydon and other Local Authorities.
An Environment for All
The school has created an environment for all pupils regardless of their diverse needs to flourish and succeed. This was clear to see during the IQM review.
Sources of Evidence
The day included a tour of the school and a learning walk. Discussions took place with key members of staff including the Headteacher, the Deputy Headteacher (also Head of English), the Head of Living Skills (Cookery), the Head of Key Stage 4, the Head of Music, the Head of Drama, the Speech and Language Therapists, one of the Teaching Assistants (Duke of Edinburgh, Cycle Proficiency and Trainee teacher). Conversations with all the staff showed they had a true sense of purpose and dedication. They wanted the very best for all the pupils and were prepared to give their time freely to create opportunities for all pupils.
Behaviour was Exemplary
The day also included a delicious lunch cooked by the pupils during one of the excellent lessons observed. The behaviour of the pupils was exemplary. The staff were all courteous and polite and modelled expected behaviour. The staff were confident in their knowledge of the pupils which meant the pupils were on task and motivated to learn. The teachers’ planning was meticulous in the lessons observed to ensure differentiation had an impact on the progress of the pupils.
The Learning Environment
The school makes outstanding use of the space available. The outside area is very well thought out with excellent outdoor facilities including horticulture area, play area for year 7 and for those with more complex needs, an enclosed court area for games and a large play area for individual play. In addition to this, a quiet courtyard area has been developed for reflection time and an additional separate space for table tennis and table football. The main building is very inviting with high quality displays and a sense of purpose in every classroom. The Post 16 area is a separate block to cater for those pupils who need more support with transition to College. This is an excellent facility too.
During the learning walk, it was evident that the curriculum was geared towards enabling the pupils to become independent, teaching them skills for life across a broad range of subjects and opportunities. The year groups are divided into classroom-based learning, subject based learning, a Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 complex needs group and a Post 16 group. This organisational approach meant that pupils felt safe in an atmosphere balanced to suit each pupils’ needs. A three-tiered pathway is set in Key Stage 4 to ensure all pupils achieve a range of appropriate qualifications to suit their ability. There is an opportunity for work experience and college courses in Key Stage 4.
Every pupil receives a block of speech and language therapy. This is tailored to the individual needs. It consists of either whole class, small group or 1 to 1 therapy. The speech and language therapists work very closely with all pupils. They deliver whole school Elklan and ‘SPOT’ training to staff. This means that all staff are confident to include daily strategies to enable pupils to access the curriculum appropriately and to de-escalate unwanted behaviours through positive use of language. A bank of resources is readily available for all staff as well as daily ongoing professional discussions regarding speech and language to achieve the best outcomes for pupils. The monitoring of teaching and learning includes lesson observations with a focus on the use of speech, language and communication. Feedback sheets enable staff development.
An Innovative Approach
The innovative approach of teachers working closely with speech and language therapists is clearly embedded in the school ethos. The data shows the positive impact on the progress for all pupils. Ofsted reinforced this in January 2018. There is “excellent teaching of language and communication skills.”
An Holistic Approach
The staff are passionate about progress of all pupils in an holistic sense. They work seamlessly as a team respecting each other’s skills set and ensuring their approach gives each pupil confidence to take advantage and to progress in all areas of school life. The pupils’ efforts are celebrated with an achievement assembly at the end of each week. Pupils are rewarded as a whole class or as an individual with certificates, mufti days, hot chocolate at breaktimes, ‘dip in’ the prize box and vouchers as well as trips. Enrichment opportunities are available in abundance. These include an excellent school choir who perform in the town and in the local care home for the elderly, a multitude of activities and trips including lunchtime and after school clubs, residential and day trips as well as youth clubs and holiday schemes. The school also takes part in Shakespeare for Schools and performs with mainstream school’s (the last production was ‘Much ado about Nothing’).
Reflecting on Others’ Needs
Opportunities are given to the pupils to reflect on others’ needs with fundraising activities including Macmillan Coffee mornings and raising funds for an orphanage in Kenya through the charity Cariad Kenya.
Working Closely with Parents
The school works closely with all parents. Parents visit the school through parent/carer workshops regarding the curriculum to support with literacy and numeracy. In addition to this, there are monthly opportunities through ‘tea and talk’ and gardening clubs for the parents/carers. The school also has a dedicated Family Support Officer working closely with all families.
Outreach support is readily available to others. The school staff give up their time in advising and supporting mainstream schools regarding SEN needs of pupils. The Drama teacher delivers teacher workshops to support other settings and works closely with the Drama department at Goldsmiths to support PGCE students. In January 2018, the Speech and Language department hosted a visit for two professors and six students from the University of Samford Alabama to demonstrate how they work within the school setting to improve teaching and learning and pupil outcomes.
The Local and Global Community
The school embraces inclusion with the local and global community. This includes links with Crystal Palace Football Club delivering an NCF Business and Enterprise qualification as well as the ‘Healthy Eagles’ project to work with families to tackle obesity.
A Wealth of Collaborative Work
In addition to the above paragraph, a wealth of collaborative work takes place with the local gospel choir, the local music organisation ‘Club Soda’, the Mousetrap theatre project, Shakespeare Schools Foundation, Kinetica Bloco a performance steel pans project, Elklan training for other schools, training PGCE students through Goldsmiths and School Direct with the university of Sussex (Bensham Manor act as the hub school and support six other schools both mainstream and special). Global collaboration is also a key feature through Cariad Kenya, Samford University and a visit for lunch in March 2018 from the French Embassy dignitaries following a master class with the Embassy Chef.
Local Croydon Young Mayor
During the visit, a Polling Station had been set up for the election of the local Croydon Young Mayor. The pupils had all been briefed on the candidates. This meant they all understood and felt involved and included in the local community’s choice for the new Young Mayor.
High Aspirations of the Staff
The high aspirations and dedication of the staff for the pupils at Bensham Manor School means that all pupils have the best opportunities for inclusion and for success in life. The school is innovative, creative and inspirational.
Reawarded IQM Flagship School Status
I highly recommend the school is awarded continues to hold Flagship Status and is reviewed again in 12 months. The next review will look closely at how the school has interacted with its Inclusion Cluster and promoted continuing outreach. Evidence of Cluster working will underpin the capacity for the school to maintain its Flagship status.
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