Calthorpe Academy in Birmingham has achieved IQM Centre of Excellence status.
Sources of Evidence
This report forms part of the IQM reaccreditation for the school and is in addition to the Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school. On the day of my visit I was given a tour of the whole school site including the outside recreation and learning areas. I was able to verify the accuracy of the evidence submitted by meeting with the Leadership team, key staff members, parents, students and support staff. The evidence provided for me was in hard copy version and electronic. In addition, I had information from the school’s most recent Ofsted report (2017) which judged the school to be good overall with Outstanding management and leadership. A key message in the Ofsted report referred to the previous inspection:-
“Since the previous inspection, Calthorpe has been transformed. The school is extremely well led. The principal, ably supported by leaders, has led the school very effectively through a period of rapid change. All aspects of the school are now good and are improving week by week.”
Senior leaders on the day of my visit described the school as having gone through “wholesale changes.”
The school motto is evident on the website and also in the outstanding practice on show in all areas of the school: “Skills for the Life we want.”
The school is one of 27 special schools in Birmingham and is a partner of the Special Schools’ Cooperative (limited by their Academy status). Outstanding features demonstrated by the school in respect of their mission is the recognition of a need for post 19 provision, parental engagement and a focus on Well Being (students and staff).
To this end the school has developed structured conversations with parents, the use of home school books, Twitter feed, text service and are soon to launch a parents’ App.
Ethos of Collaboration
In line with their ethos of collaboration and providing the most suitable learning environments for all students they have initiated, under a service level agreement, a satellite provision at Waverley School, (Waverley School is a mixed all-through school located in Small Heath, Birmingham) staffed by members of the Calthorpe team.
Forward Thinking and Aspirational
I met 8 representatives of the school council during my visit who were keen to tell me about the school and the opportunities provided by the curriculum. They were forward thinking, aspirational and full of praise for the work of the school staff. The school recognises the need for high quality monitoring, tracking and safeguarding of students and is using “My Concern” and “Sleuth” electronic packages.
* www.myconcern.co.uk “MyConcern enables staff in education to record safeguarding concerns easily and securely, allowing quick and easy reporting from any web enabled device.”
* https://schoolsoftwarecompany.com/ “Sleuth is a highly effective software tool for tracking student behaviour and their personal and social development. It is used by thousands of staff in hundreds of mainstream and special schools.”
School Development Plan
The current school development plan is an extension of the vision produced following the Ofsted inspection and is directly concerned with performance management, stakeholder information and student need.
Core Fundamentals of Teaching
The school has worked closely with their School Improvement Partner and has developed an effective package of teacher performance monitoring using the “Magnificent 7” (core fundamentals of teaching). The CPD programme offered to staff is comprehensive and allows for staff progression and retention.
Maintaining their focus on “Skills for the Life we Want” the school places great importance on future planning for all students. 90% of parents attend the placement visits. Pathways provide an annual session for all post 19 providers in Birmingham and provide impartial advice for parents. 38% of Purple band students are currently in paid employment and the career strategy within the school is to work with employers to help them make adjustments to enable student access. Barclays Bank offers careers advice.
The parents I met during my visit spoke about the high expectations of the school, the professionalism of the staff, communication systems, the resources available and the attitude, culture and relationships between staff and students. There are current plans to change all transport arrangements to “in house.”
I met a variety of staff during my visit all of whom share a sound understanding of the Inclusion agenda and had been involved or consulted on the IQM self-evaluation report. In addition to the teaching staff and in class support, I also met with one of the school chefs who was running the kitchen in the newly opened building for older students. His focus was on healthy choices for students and to give an opportunity to work in a professional environment. Other areas of innovative support I observed were the bikeability project, a student car washing business and a woodworking enterprise guided by a member of staff; students were making garden furniture and wooden ornaments for sale. There are further plans to extend this area and include an outside workshop, together with a Forest Schools’ area. Other documents provided for me included details of the school’s involvement with the Newquay Wave project and a range of other enrichment activities followed by the students.
Lively and Engaging Environment
It was a pleasure to have been given the chance to experience such a lively and engaging environment. To witness at first hand the care and attention which staff have given in providing the very best possible teaching and learning opportunities for all students. The school demonstrates a deep understanding of the Inclusion agenda and, together with the expertise and relentless efforts of the staff, students are able to succeed and make the transition from school into further education or the work place.
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