Coteford Infant School, Pinner, Middlesex, has achieved Flagship School status.
Coteford Infant School is made up of 260 pupils. Out of the cohort of 260, 43 pupils have SEN needs including 23 pupils with ASD and 7 pupils with physical disabilities. 14 SEN pupils have an EHCP, furthermore, 48 pupils are classified as EAL and 61 are classified as Pupil Premium.
A Welcoming Feeling from Everyone
Coteford Infant School’s ethos is, ‘Everyone is special, every day is important and together we can do anything’. As soon as you walk into the school, there is a welcoming feeling from everyone. The Reception area has been well thought out with an attractive area for families to wait with resources for children to play. There was an excellent display on the wall of each pupils’ painted handprint around a painted model of the world entitled ‘Small Hands Change the World’ sets the scene for a very inclusive school.
The attractive ambiance continues through the corridors with wonderful displays of animals reflecting the class names throughout the school, which include animals such as Puffin, Deer and Owl for Reception, Hedgehog, Swan and Rabbit for Year 1 and Peacock, Fox and Otter for Year 2. The class names immediately bring the importance of nature and wildlife into the curriculum and into the lives of all the pupils.
Every pupil collaborated with the class teacher and learning support assistants (LSAs) to design and bring to life the habitat and the characteristics of the animals through different uses of materials and colours to create such wonderful masterpieces.
The theme of nature continues throughout the school with a writing display ‘Writing to Bee Proud Of’ with colourful bees around the writing. In addition, colourful clay butterflies made by the pupils are attached to the walls and archways. The well-stocked library continues along the theme of nature with animals including hand puppets used as props for story telling as well as ‘story sacks’ for Year 1 pupils neatly organised along one of the walls.
Everyone is Included
As the website states, the vision of the school is to create opportunities for pupils to become ‘independent and motivated’ learners who can achieve the best possible outcomes. Consequently, leaders have created an atmosphere where every pupil feels they ‘can have a go’ at situations they may find challenging. This means that each classroom is very well equipped to meet the needs of each pupil. The leaders go to great lengths to ensure that all pupils with SEN needs are catered for within the classroom setting. The importance placed upon CPD opportunities for staff, means that they have the confidence and expertise to address and support all pupils to ensure pupil outcomes are at the forefront of everyone’s mind and that everyone is included.
Nurturing Life Skills
The pupils are very much involved in activities throughout the school to nurture their life skills, for example, roles of responsibility are encouraged through ‘Helping Hands’ in such roles as ‘litter collectors, lunchtime friends, basket book monitors, games monitors, as well as playground friends.’
Independent Thinking Skills are Encouraged
Independent thinking skills are encouraged out of the classroom through the ‘Boggle and Noggle’ interactive display to reinforce literacy and numeracy where pupils ‘have a go’ at such questions as ‘How many ways can you make this number?’ and ‘How many words with two or more letters can you find?’
Within the classroom, subject knowledge, skills and understanding is developed through a topic- based curriculum, for example, the Reception’s topic for the term is ‘Marvellous Me’ with Year 1’s topic being ‘Glorious Food’ and Year 2’s topic being ‘Fire Fire.’ ‘Read, Write, Inc’ has been introduced to support phonics, reading and writing and ‘Maths Mastery’ has been introduced in Maths to ensure that pupils have achieved a high level of competence before progressing. The ‘Rising Stars’ reading programme has been introduced from September 2019. This ensures that pupils are supported and progress through the letters and sounds phonics programme which is rigorously monitored and tracked by the staff. Pupils are encouraged to take their reading book home from the scheme as well as a library book each week. ‘Speech and Language Link’ is used to assess pupils who need extra support in speech, language and communication. Interventions are carried out for any identified pupils and the allocated LSA works closely with the Speech and Language Therapist to monitor the progress of the pupils and to review the allocated support.
Bespoke Intervention Packages
Pupils with additional needs are very well catered for in terms of numerous bespoke intervention packages for individual pupils. The SENCO works extremely closely with external professionals including the educational psychologist, physiotherapist, play therapist and occupational therapist who are regular visitors to the school. The school employs an assistant physiotherapist 15 hours a week to carry out the programmes set out by the physiotherapist. This has had an extremely positive impact on the mobility of pupils with physical disabilities.
Specialist Resource Centre
Due to the number of SEND pupils, the school has a specialist resource centre so that all pupils can be fully integrated into the classroom with their other needs being met. The therapy room is fully equipped to cater for pupils’ needs. Intervention rooms have been developed to carry out small group and 1:1 intervention that mirror activities within the classroom so that pupils ‘keep up and not catch up’ with both literacy and numeracy.
Fun and Exciting Activities
The ‘Attention Hillingdon Programme’ is another very successful intervention which has derived from the LAs work with ‘Attention Autism’ to deliver an eight-week programme in schools to develop speech, language and communication for ASD pupils with fun and exciting activities. Pupils are continually reviewed and monitored to ensure that the intervention is having a positive impact.
Constructive Ways to Solve Problems
Pupils with SEMH are also catered for with the PALS programme (Play and Learning to Socialise). The PALS intervention is led by a trained member of staff. It focuses on the development of social skills by teaching the pupils constructive ways to solve problems in social situations using stories. In addition to PALS, ‘Black Sheep Press’ is also used which contains resources for teachers to support pupils with speech and language development as well as social skills. The leadership team in discussion with class teachers will identify the intervention that is best suited to meet the needs of the pupils. All interventions are monitored and tracked accordingly to ensure pupils are making progress. Interventions are modified and altered if the impact is not resulting in accelerated progress. All interventions are tracked in the ‘SEN Class Folder.’ This can be accessed by all LSAs and teachers to ensure they are fully up to date with all the interventions in place for each individual pupil in their class.
Well-being and Mental Health
SEMH needs is also being addressed regarding the well-being of the staff. A ‘Well-Being’ day is now an annual day where the whole school community enjoy well-being activities. The ‘Sandwell Well-Being Charter Mark School Audit’ has been carried out. It addresses the well-being and mental health of all those in the school community by gathering the views of parents, staff and pupils. However, due to a change of staffing this has not been fully completed. Despite this, the information gathered is informing the leaders of the future developments for well-being in school and the resources from the project are used in PSHE lessons. It has been enlightening for leaders to evaluate the information gathered in terms of the school community’s level of well-being, self-esteem and self-confidence. From the information gathered, it has become a school improvement priority to put in place provision to improve the community’s well-being.
Extra-curricular activities include the ‘Rise and Shine’ breakfast club, Art club, Arts and Craft for Year 1, Choir who have also performed in the local community at Eastcote Walled Garden. Active Creative – the Boogaloo Boogie which consists of PE, Dance, Creative Movement is also on offer at school for the pupils. Recently, the Harvest Assembly was a main event with pupils celebrating the Harvest Festival and bringing in donations for those less fortunate than themselves.
Confident Learning Support Assistants
LSAs spoken to during the visit all stated that they enjoyed working at the school and felt that the leaders supported them in their roles within the school. They felt confident in carrying out their roles and were designated around the school classes to ensure the best possible outcomes of the pupils in accordance with pupil needs and their own individual expertise. This included splitting time supporting any challenging pupils so that one LSA was not with the same pupil all day.
The assistant physiotherapist felt supported by the physiotherapist and was fully trained in ensuring that she could deliver the exercise programmes to the PD pupils. She also carried out sensory circuits with a group of pupils who needed extra support with gross motor skills. They all agreed that there were some very challenging situations that occurred during the term. However, they felt supported through CPD. The CPD programme for LSAs included: Maths Key skills, Rising Stars Reading Scheme, Manual Handling, Behaviour Management and SEN, ‘Adapting the environment to meet the needs, promote independence, Attachment Disorder and Key Skills’.
Pupils Consistently Tracked and Monitored
Equally, the teachers felt supported and worked hard to ensure all pupils could access the curriculum and make progress. Differentiated work was set to ensure all pupils whatever their starting points could progress. PPA time consisted of afternoon meetings within year groups to plan and evaluate the progress of pupils. They all felt that the staff had different skills to offer and that they all worked collaboratively together. Pupils were consistently tracked and monitored. Interventions were evaluated and modified to ensure that the knowledge, skills and understanding gained in the intervention was transferred into the classroom. LSAs liaised with class teachers as much as time allowed. CPD for teachers included: SEMH, Autism Friendly Classroom, Attachment Disorder, KS1 Science, The Sandwell Well-Being Mark’, Language Rich Curriculum, Maths Mastery and Humanities. The school was also part of a local cluster group of primary schools. They felt this was very supportive and useful to share ideas as well as to have the opportunity to moderate the pupils’ work.
Drive for Excellence
Throughout the visit, it was clear that the leaders have ensured that the school keeps moving forwards and that their drive for excellence prevails. They encourage all staff to develop their career pathway in order to deliver a curriculum to suit the needs of the pupils. One teacher told me how grateful she was for the development opportunities and the support she had been given to become a qualified teacher. She was very excited about her forthcoming graduation ceremony.
The parents were delighted with the inclusive nature of the school and felt that their children were very well cared for. One parent stated that their child transferred to the school in the last term of Reception and the change in him was
Even though he has complex needs, she felt her child was
“included in every way”
including trips to the London Eye, Ruislip Lido, Kew Gardens and local walks.
Specialist Needs are Catered For
Another parent stated that her child who also has significant needs is catered for in every way with transition from Reception to Year 1 being “great.” This included differentiated tasks for literacy and numeracy set out in baskets which engage and motivate her child. Lastly, a parent stated that the school had invested in a trike for her child so that he could be mobile and engage in playtime. Specialist equipment is provided so that he can fully engage in the classroom. They all said the school was ‘fantastic’ and were ‘full of praise for the staff.’
Polite, Engaging and Confident Pupils
Equally, the pupils felt that they
They were confident in articulating why they liked school including playtime in the playground that consisted of ‘Spoon Island, Happy Hills and a Magical Theatre’ (which the pupils had named). They also like PE, number work, reading and writing poems. They were able to explain their topic work on the ‘Great Fire of London’ and how it began in a bakery on “Pudding Lane.” They felt that they were learning new things and “enjoyed Science and Art too.” They knew what colour books they were on in the reading scheme and felt that they had improved in reading. The pupils were extremely polite, engaging and confident as well as delightful to meet with.
Throughout the day, there was an exceptionally calm atmosphere throughout the school with positive relationships between the leaders and the staff as well as between the staff and the pupils. The website is inclusive as well as informative for parents, especially when taking into consideration such diversity in terms of pupil need.
A Feeling of Inclusiveness
The Head and newly formed leadership team are creating an atmosphere where inclusion is a key driver to ensure that
everyone is “special”
whatever the challenges faced. From the moment you enter the school until the moment you leave, there is a feeling of inclusiveness with a focus on
“achievement for all”
in a caring, safe and reflective environment.
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