Bush Hill Park Primary School in Enfield has achieved Flagship School status.
Including Each and Every Pupil
It was a real pleasure to visit Bush Hill Park Primary School and see the amazing work they are doing to include each and every pupil. The new Reception area is extremely nice but it is the warm welcome from the Receptionist and the Welfare Worker that made me feel really welcome.
Updating the Safeguarding Policy
The Deputy Head/Inclusion Lead spent time with me to discuss the school and their work, I was then left me with the Deputy Safeguarding Lead who described what happened during (and since) the COVID-19 lockdown. She is also the Parent Support Advisor and is currently completing a lengthy counselling course. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit they made sure the Safeguarding Policy was reviewed, updated and amended according to the DFE guidance. The school uses Safeguard Software, which is used by staff to pass on concerns to the DSL Team (which includes the Headteacher). They do have formal DSL meetings but talk about issues as they come up. They often talk and discuss the concern before they decide about action. Working as a team means they can share the load and informally supervise each other and talk through their anxieties.
A Very Knowledgeable Chair of Governors
There are many families with mental health issues and the school knows their families very well. Times have changed as resources at every level have reduced and they don’t just refer on every issue. The thresholds for referral are much greater than ever before so the team approach is helpful. The school has a very good relationship with the MASH Team who offer advice and support. The Chair of Governors is the Safeguarding Governor and asks for regular reports and comes into meet with the team. He is very knowledgeable and is a great support..
The school still maintains some responsibility for supporting families even though they have fewer resources to do so. Often they have nowhere else to go and gravitate to the school when they need help or advice. The Deputy Safeguarding Lead is training as a Counsellor and the school is supporting her with this training as she can provide counselling for children as needed. She told me that in order to do the course she has to go through counselling herself and has subsequently learned a lot about herself and how she presents to others. This has helped her in her work in the school.
Supporting During Lockdown
During lockdown the Senior Team and Safeguarding Leads were working long hours. The list of vulnerable families was updated and the pupils who were of concern were divided amongst the team. The families that caused most concern were contacted by phone every other day – others were contacted by their teachers every week. The DSL in the school told me she is a chronic asthmatic and is therefore, clinically vulnerable and ideally should have worked from home. However, she felt she could not do that and spent time in school delivering work and food parcels to families. Similarly, where there were children with known mental health issues, she would go and take them for a ‘socially distanced’ walk around a local park to check to see how they were doing. Furthermore, they set up their own foodbank (working with local foodbanks) and helped with deliveries. Knowing the families who required support but would not necessarily turn up at a foodbank helped and they were able to organise discrete deliveries to their homes. Morrison’s in Enfield supported the school and families come in often to ask for help on behalf of another family. Over 60 families have been evicted from their homes just after lockdown ended and many were moved to the coast or to cheaper parts of London. There is great housing insecurity. Many of these families still keep in contact with the school and they are able to direct them to support services where they are now living. Mobility of the population is one of the known features of the school and there have been 32 admissions between September and October this term. The school is very good at managing this turnover and they do their best to support the children.
Staff Wellbeing is a Priority
Staff have all had risk assessments and those who are deemed clinically vulnerable have had adjustments made to enable them to work safely. The wellbeing of staff is a priority for the Leadership Team. The Learning Mentors have done the Mental Health First Aid training and there have been many wellbeing events in the last year. However, many of these events had to be halted when the COVID-19 restriction came into play. Support helplines and websites are promoted to staff and they are encouraged to contact them if they are suffering anxiety. They are also encouraged to talk to someone in school and to voice their concerns if they can.
Supported by Charities
The Hearts and Helpers charity has donated 70 Christmas presents that will be allocated to families in need, especially for those who have lost parents during the year or for those who live in one parent families. Another charity that supports the families in need is Father to Father. The school is best placed to distribute these gifts and work in partnership with the different charities for the benefit of the children.
Speech and Language Support
My next discussion was with the individual who works with staff on producing School Based Plans and Speech and Language provision for individual children. There are currently 15 children with EHCPs across the school and 4 others are undergoing assessment. She has been in the school for thirteen years and has developed her expertise over time. She said that speech and language concerns are a big and growing issue. She deals mostly with SEN/ASD children and runs about nine sessions a day, supporting around thirty children. She carries out a full assessment of the pupils and then works with them for about eight weeks before she decides if they need further support. She uses the Junior Oral Language Screen, which is picture based and highlights different concepts which may be to do with literacy and not understanding the language effects. She also uses Colourful Semantics.
Early Language Intervention
The school is going to start using NELLIE (Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme) and training will take place in January. In addition, the whole school is undertaking Trauma Informed training, which will help with the conversations which teachers are having with children. Although she works mostly on a one to one basis with pupils, she also keeps in contact with classroom teachers so that she can keep them informed about the work she is doing with children. This way she can pass on strategies that can be used in the classroom.
Supporting Vulnerable Pupils
I next spoke with a Teaching Assistant who works mostly with SEN provision and is responsible for setting up the Rainbow Room as a resource for children with ASD. She used to be a SEN Learning Support Assistant and started in her new role last year. The school identified the need to have more support in Early Years where children are presenting problems. She uses various toolkits to support children but currently is finding it difficult to maintain support when they are in bubbles and can’t come out from that bubble. Some of the children may have been identified from clinics and health visitors and others, are identified by their families. Some are looked-after children and some children fit into any number of categories. The Inclusion Team sit down and go through their needs and decide what intervention is needed. They do observations and decide on actions to take to support. Some children flourish whilst other make little progress. It depends on the child. She told me that her training and experience is in autism (she used to work in a special school) and she is able to devise activities to engage pupils with autism and to help them learn. She said that autism is such a broad spectrum and different children have different needs. She has to work out what works best for which children. She needs to get to know the children who have very different personalities and individual traits. The local Outreach Centre provides training and it’s where the school refers parents to if they need support.
Supporting Every Child and Family
The TA told me she feels valued in her role and knows she makes a good contribution to the school. She (her work) makes a difference to the children she works with. She is very passionate about her work and the school is equally passionate and strive to support every child and every family. Staff support each other when the going gets tough and they work as a team. She makes a final comment that really sums up what inclusion is all about, “If they don’t learn the way we teach, then we need to teach the way they learn.”
Helping to Meet Additional Needs
My next meeting was with the Pastoral Care Lead who supports SEMH needs and behaviour across the school. He is a Learning Mentor and is now in his fifth year at the school. He also manages the breakfast and after-school club so is in school from 7 am to 6 pm every day. His role is to meet the additional needs outside the classroom in order to help pupils succeed in the classroom. This involves feeding pupils, constantly patrolling the school and playground noticing anyone in distress. He is often in the playground and manages lunchtimes for Key Stage 2. He ensures children are eating and works with midday supervisors to ensure they are providing the support children need. He describes pockets of interventions that go on every day and the need to pull them together, so nobody is working in isolation. Class teachers are informed about interventions that are happening with children in their class. He believes intervention is better than a cure, so if a pupil has to walk out of class (because they cannot self-regulate) that is better than blowing up and losing it in class. This means he has to work with teachers and TAs and LSAs to help them support children.
The Pastoral Care Lead completed the Thrive course which was really good. However, he knows that there is a set way that works and they have to try a number of approaches.
The Teaching and Learning Team is a catalyst for creating continuous improvement, they are all on a journey of improvement and it is never done, it is an ongoing process. The teachers are one team and even though they don’t have Subject Leaders, they have someone who takes responsibility for each curriculum area. When they put progression documents in place they did it together rather than sending off one person to do bits of it. A teacher from every year group is on team and there is a subject ‘expert’ who brings subject knowledge. They work with other schools to share curriculum plans and to share ideas before they develop specific action plans. They have a curriculum health check coming up and the SIP and an ex HMI will come into school to carry out the review. Currently they are pulling everything together to ensure everything is transparent, they see this as a learning opportunity for the school.
Finally, the Deputy Head (inclusion) discussed Ordinarily Available Provision – otherwise known as universal provision. OAP in schools is based on an Enfield Document and is all about Quality First Teaching and developing School Based Plans. This helped them clarify what SEND means at Bush Hill Park School. The EP delivered training on producing School Based Plans, which proved to be very useful. When writing these plans meetings are held with every teacher and year group to discuss children with identified SEN. Teachers, TAs and LSAs are involved in the discussion and this way they can decide what intervention is needed to support each child. The Inclusion Team did some training with teachers and TAs on the effective use of TAs in the classroom. During lockdown there was an abundance of online training for TAs, LSAs and other support staff and these were enthusiastically taken up and completed by staff.
Committed to Inclusion
Bush Hill Park School has a great many strengths and is totally committed to being an inclusive school. Children come first and staff go to great lengths to support all children but especially the vulnerable ones. The Headteacher and her team are very reflective and are always striving to improve. They have a clear understanding about how to meet the needs of children and they make sure they find the means and resources to provide the support needed. Staff at all levels share the vision of the Head and contribute to making that vision a reality. Their care for the children is the driving force as is a commitment to the community they serve. They have much to be proud of.
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