Crown Lane Primary School in Lambeth has achieved Centre of Excellence status for the second time.
Developing Inclusive Practice
Inclusive practice has continued to develop at Crown Lane since their last COE review despite a great deal of restructuring. This, along with budget cuts, has meant that some projects targeted for Inclusion this year have not happened and others have taken their place. Parents understand this. One parent explained,
“Although there has been lots of change in the school and although the economic climate is hard, the changes are benefiting our children.”
Achieving Highest Grades
Key Stage 2 scores for the end of the academic year 2017/2018 saw the school gain its highest grades, with 75% of pupils reaching expected standard in reading, writing and maths with progress being well above average in both maths and reading.
The Inclusion Team
Inclusion is led very well by the Head of School and Inclusion Manager and her team: which comprises of the SENCO, family link worker, mentor and children’s centre lead, but inclusion is clearly the role of all members of staff. The school employs its own speech and language therapist who works well alongside a TA with S&L responsibilities. Crown Lane also has an ASD unit which currently has places for 15 pupils. Placement in the ASD unit is via local authority admissions. There are currently 66 pupils registered as SEN, with some pupils transferring from other schools who found their needs too great to handle. The chair of governors says that the school has, “made a virtue out of their situation,” demonstrating superb inclusion in enabling these pupils to achieve.
English as an Additional Language
There is a large population of pupils with English as an additional language, many of whom have just arrived in the country, some with no recourse to public funds. The school has an excellent reputation for ensuring success in such pupils. One child told me that when he had come to the school he couldn’t speak any English at all, but he had been helped immediately using google translate, having patient friends and teachers and is now as confident with his English as any of his classmates. The TA in charge of additional support for EAL pupils and the Inclusion Manager spoke enthusiastically about the work that they do. They are currently in the process of purchasing an app to help their EAL children and families improve their English both at school and at home. The children explained that each week they have the language of the week, based on the languages spoken by pupils at the school. They are all expected to learn some phrases in these languages.
Black History Month
Black history month is celebrated annually. This year the school invited an artist in to work with the children on a mural of Aretha Franklin. It is a superb piece of work made by all of the children and proudly displayed in their hall.
Sharing Best Practice
The Headteacher feels that Crown Lane works very closely with other local schools, sharing resources, support and expertise.
Parents Feel Supported
Parents feel that their children are well supported at Crown Lane. One parent explained that she had moved her child from a private school to Crown Lane in order that her son could access the ASD unit and gain the support that he needed. Parents feel that the school has high expectations for their pupils and, if it is needed, support for the parents with behaviour at home as well as at school. A parent explained that one target for her child is to enable the family to have a smooth holiday, the school has made some good suggestions to aid this. One parent discussed how much support the children’s centre had given her and explained that she is currently training on an NVQ course, organised for her by the school. They feel that the school,
“Really understands the needs of SEN pupils.”
Parents discussed support they had had around domestic violence and said that the school had helped them access the Freedom programme.
Transition is a Strength
A real strength of Crown Lane is the work that it does in preparation for its newcomers. Parents told me how impressed they were that the school was ready for pupils joining with significant SEN needs. Paperwork had been read and staff put in place.
Children are dropped at the school gates in the morning which are manned by the SLT. This allows parents to report any issues and to ask questions. At the end of the day teachers are available for informal chats with parents. Some SEN pupils are brought in through the main door and meet their TA there, this enables a smooth handover each morning. Three parent’s evenings are held each year. Parents are also able to contact class teachers etc via email. There is a separate email address for any issues affecting pupils with SEN. The Head has also planned to set up monthly drop-ins, to allow parents to meet with him. The school also has an effective and growing school forum, this allows parents to have a say on school policy and procedures.
Governors are Experienced and Proactive
Governors are experienced and proactive. They appreciate the challenges that the Inclusion Team face and are very supportive. Inclusion is high on the agenda at all governing body meetings and is linked to all aspects of school improvement. They have high hopes for the improving academic scores of the school and appreciate the work that goes into these successes. They visit the school regularly and have a clear picture of how inclusion works. The mentor is a staff governor, bringing to meetings a vast knowledge of the pastoral support available to Crown Lane pupils and their families. . The chair of governors is keen for the curriculum to be creative and fully supports the “Drop Down Days” which are totally based in the arts.
Good Communication with Senior Leadership Team
Staff feel that communication between them and the senior leadership team is good. Monday morning briefings set out the business of the week, weekly staff meetings, phase meetings and TA briefings give staff the chance to share ideas and concerns.
Pupils are a Credit to the School
The pupils at Crown Lane are a credit to the school. They speak very highly of their teachers, who they feel do the very best they can for their pupils. The children feel that lessons are interesting and exciting. They described a topic on the differences between London and New York, the teachers had set up one classroom as New York, complete with the Statue of Liberty and the other as London, including Big Ben. The children visited each classroom discussing what they could see and enjoying the cuisine of the city!
There are many after school clubs and the children enjoy a variety of trips and visits during their time at Crown Lane. One child remembered a visiting author during her history topic on Egypt. The author had signed her book which she felt was very precious and had inspired her to become the avid reader that she is today. There is plenty of help available should they need it. They feel that the children are respectful of one another: one child said,
“Everybody is connected. We’re all in it together.”
They spoke about assemblies on mental health and cultural difference. The children enjoy maths, drama and science, “particularly the experiments.” The children feel that a strength of the school is the way in which newcomers are made to feel welcome. They are invited to stand up in assembly for a round of applause and are given a welcome certificate, as well as two buddies. There are plenty of opportunities for the children to demonstrate responsibility. They are peer mediators, eco rangers, digital leaders and school counsellors. They love the school as it is and feel that only fingerprint security could improve it!
Working with the Local Community
The school takes its role in the community seriously and there are lots of opportunities for collaborative work between Crown Lane and the local high school and colleges. One link, with Norwood School resulted in a superb arts display in one of the corridors, based on the work of Julian Opie. The school choir perform at Lambeth Fayre and often entertain the patients at the Home for the Incurables which is on the neighbouring site. The senior leaders appreciate that for some of their ESOL parents just coming into the school can be an issue and they have ensured a mix of ethnicities in their office staff to guarantee that everybody is made to feel welcome and comfortable.
Pupils Support Each Other
Staff feel the best thing about the school is how tolerant and supportive of one another the pupils are. There is a clear sense of Inclusion in all aspects of school life.
Continuously Striving to Improve
The Headteacher, Inclusion Manager and Inclusion Team at Crown Lane are continually striving to improve and extend their inclusive practise. They have an excellent reputation for Inclusion within their borough and are keen to share their great practice with others. Despite a great deal of change, Inclusion remains at the centre of the school’s ethos and therefore deserves to hold the title of Centre of Excellence.
IQM Cluster Group
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 COE status.
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