Inclusion is Inseparable
“Guided by our Christian Values, we are all determined to serve and lead the diverse world we live in treating everyone with compassion, dignity and respect.” This ambitious statement of intent is being delivered with passion and rigour at Bishop Martin CE Primary School. As a result, pupils, their parents, staff and school leaders all have a shared understanding that every single person is important and that we all have a responsibility to make our world the best it can be. Inclusion is inseparable from these values.
Leaders and teachers have taken the school’s Christian ethos and made it the key that unlocks the curriculum and the heart of pupils’ learning. This is manifested in the school’s INSPIRE curriculum and accompanying INSPIRE worship programme, through which these values are interwoven and reinforced alongside the vital knowledge and skills that pupils need.
Twelve key values have been identified and these provide themes for the worship that takes place each term. Worship develops the understanding of pupils by making the links between these abstract ideas and the world they inhabit. Inspiring examples of individuals whose actions embody these values are given. Care is taken to ensure that the diversity of humanity is represented in these examples and that difference is celebrated and respected alongside the idea that we are all part of a collective whole. The school’s curriculum also reflects this approach, linking the values to the knowledge and skills children learn, many through inspiring examples of people and their work. Once again, the examples chosen represents the diverse population of the world, which is especially important in a community which has less diversity than is typical.
Staff ‘Walk the Walk’
Given that role models are placed front and centre of pupils’ learning, it is unsurprising that Bishop Martin CE Primary staff “walk the walk” when it comes to modelling the behaviour and attitudes they promote to the children. A very warm welcome is extended by office staff and parents feel that communication in general is excellent. They are full of praise for the responsiveness of all staff and the level of care they show.
Staff are committed to the school and there is a strong sense of teamwork. Personal responsibility is accepted by all. Teachers take full responsibility for the progress and development of all the pupils they teach, including those who have additional needs. They take time to understand their children and make every effort to ensure that they can succeed. “What more could be done?” is the watchword when it comes to the regular standards meetings in which teachers and leaders discuss the pupils’ progress. “We treat the children like they were our own,” said one member of support staff, “we think, ‘what would I want someone to do if it was my child?” The school has a calm and peaceful atmosphere, with staff modelling regulated behaviour to the children and showing them respect and kindness.
Bishop Martin CE Primary is very outward facing, ‘embracing the world we live in’ being a key plank of the INSPIRE approach. Teachers have adopted this attitude with gusto when it comes to developing their own practice. There are strong links with other schools in their Multi Academy Trust and a willingness to be open and reflective to the ideas and practice of others.
Teachers voluntarily share their teaching with others through videos of their lessons and have evaluative discussions with their colleagues. This enables them to learn together and coach each other to the benefit of all. Within the school, teachers regularly swap and teach other’s classes, sharing their subject expertise and developing their teaching skills with different groups of pupils. All staff say that they are very well supported and are given great opportunities to develop.
The needs of staff to deliver the intended outcomes for pupils are carefully identified and addressed by leaders. As a result, staff feel comfortable that they understand the expectations on them and are able to deliver. Mutual support is also a strength within the staff team. “We’re good at giving five minutes to listen,” said one Teaching Assistant, explaining how well staff look after each other. This behaviour obviously reflects on the pupils, as another reflected that, “They can often help each other without an adult getting involved.”
Commitment to Values
The behaviour of pupils inside and outside of school exemplifies their understanding and commitment to the values their school promotes. The atmosphere in lessons is relaxed but focused. The youngest children show a willingness to listen to one another and take turns as they develop their language skills through a fun game.
Older children demonstrate pride and resilience through presenting their work well and being willing to ‘polish’ it after they have feedback from their teachers. They make a difference to their world, joining campaigns locally and connecting with other children around the globe. They understand that inclusion means that there are ‘no outsiders’ and ‘everybody is welcome’. They understand that they have to make this happen through their behaviour to each other, in order for it to be a reality in school. They like the way that they are supported to do this, being very proud, for example, of their ‘buddy bench’ where pupils can find support from each other when they need it at playtime.
Older pupils are keen to have a leadership role in their school. They act as school councillors, subject ambassadors, Guardians and prefects. Through these roles, they effect change, being very proud of the example that the school council got the fence fixed because some children were worried about it.
The Inclusion Lead/SENDco at Bishop Martin CE Primary provides exemplary leadership in this area, with excellent support from the Headteacher, the Trust’s inclusion leader and his colleagues. He has a very thoughtful approach and distributes responsibility very well. As a result, inclusion is seen as ‘everyone’s business’. He supports colleagues very well, checking daily that their adaptations for learners with additional needs are having impact and providing them with a ‘toolkit’ which enables them to address the needs of all their pupils.
He ensures that parents’ and pupils’ voices are given due priority in any plans that are formulated to meet their needs. Partners and outside agencies are used well, when needed, to advise on effective practice. The curriculum lead is also a key figure. He really understands the importance of inclusion and has ensured that the curriculum delivers in this respect. Again, there is a distributed leadership model, ensuring that middle leaders have co-produced curriculum plans. As a result, they are committed to the model and understand it exceptionally well.
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.