Darton Academy, in Barnsley, part of the Delta Academies Trust, has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
Introducing Darton Academy
Darton Academy is a secondary school with over 1100 students currently on roll between Years 7 and 11. The school serves a diverse catchment, from areas of real affluence to relatively deprived areas of Barnsley and the school is set up to ensure that it meets the needs of all learners in an inclusive environment.
Joining Delta Academies Trust
The school has gone on a significant journey over the last few years. Since 2017, the school joined Delta Academies Trust, appointed a new Principal, undergone significant staffing changes, as well as changes to policies and practice. It is very clear that the school had come a very long way in that time, and was now having an extremely positive impact on the young people within.
Universal Language of Success
The inclusive ethos of the school was fantastic. Speaking to individuals from all areas of the school, including Senior Leaders, Governors, teachers, and non-teaching colleagues, they all spoke confidently of the school’s ethos to be ambitious for all young people and to break down any barriers that may get in an individual child’s way of doing this. The Delta Trust vision of ‘changing lives’ was very clearly promoted, as was their vision to change educational outcomes for young people in the North of England. The Principal spoke of being ‘ambitious’ in the curriculum for all young people, not limiting the subjects that children can choose, the Vice Principal talked of giving all students opportunities and not leaving any child behind, LSAs talked about ‘giving opportunities,’ the Assistant Principal talked about ‘changing lives,’ and students talked about ‘giving us all opportunities.’ What was so pleasing in this was to see the variety of language used to describe this core ethos; demonstrating that this is at the heart of what Darton Academy does, not simply being a script for students and staff to learn and recite.
Inclusion in Practice
In addition to ensuring significant improvement in outcomes, the school has also successfully integrated a ‘nurture’ provision back into the mainstream school. This historical provision means that there is a high proportion of students within the school with an EHCP, however, their inclusive approach to integrating students with higher-level needs into the main school provision has been tremendously successful thus far and shows a really inclusive whole-school approach rather than segregating these learners into a separate part of the school facility.
It was particularly pleasing to see the enhanced provision that Darton Academy provided within their setting, through the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC) and the Bridge. These two environments were extremely supportive and encapsulated the inclusive approach of the school, supporting those with a barrier to their learning to succeed. The PLC was used effectively to ensure that new students or those that had previously had periods of time outside of school were integrated back into the mainstream provision in a gradual and supportive way, ensuring a higher likelihood of success. Students would then increase their time in mainstream lessons, thus ensuring that there were no students permanently within the PLC. Again, this encapsulates the inclusive nature of the school, providing the individualised support that these young people needed to succeed, whilst ensuring that they were not limiting their aspirations or ambitions by withholding access to subject specialist teaching. The PLC is supported by a qualified teacher, in the role of PLC Manager, again underlining the importance of this provision.
Targeted and Effective Support
The Bridge was also used enormously effectively to allow students time out of the classroom to provide individual support around mental health, where necessary. What was clear with this, as with the provision in the PLC, was that both were targeted very well, rather than a scattergun approach of young people attending. Those students who needed regular access to the Bridge had ‘Bridge Passes,’ allowing them to access as needed. Other interventions within the facility, were based on needs. Leaders analysed CPOMS data regularly to plan targeted interventions for these students, whether on a group or 1:1 basis.
New and Innovative Interventions
Additionally, the school had access to a range of interventions delivered in school to students via Fortis, including on-site Art Therapy. Many of these interventions are new and therefore giving them time to embed, especially after an incredibly challenging and disrupted two years with the Covid pandemic, is key in ensuring that they are appropriately evaluated going forward.
Finally, it is important, when summarising the inclusive nature of the school, to focus on its positive rewards-driven approach. In all classrooms, there were prominent ‘Tri-Star” displays. Within the main atrium of the school, there was a large screen constantly displaying the positive achievements of both individual students but also groups and classes. The Principal’s Wonder Wall again highlighted the focus on positivity and praise from the very top of the school and the students spoke highly of this recognition. Assemblies focused on positivity, handing out the Tri-Star awards as well as ‘Heggarty Heroes’ and encouraging friendly competition between forms. Whilst praise is a positive approach for schools to use with young people, it was the way in which each child could be recognised for their own individual achievements that meant it was not just the academically most capable that received recognition, but those who tried hard as 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: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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