Devonshire Road Primary School in Bolton has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Devonshire Road Primary School (DRPS) is a larger than average two-form-entry school situated in the suburbs of Bolton town centre with 420 children on roll. The area has a wide-ranging mix of housing, ranging from privately owned accommodation to council properties to properties rented out by private landlords. There are 25 languages spoken amongst pupils and their families with the main two languages being English and Urdu. The context of the school is 50.6% of pupils are female, 49.4% are male. 27% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, 30% are eligible for pupil premium, 22% are classed as ‘disadvantaged’ with 63% of those being classed as ‘most deprived’, 37.1% have EAL and 13% are on the SEN register. Currently on the SEN register, there are 9 children with an EHCP and 42 children at SEN support. In September 2020, the school’s new intake came from 18 different nursery settings.
Everyone is Part of the Team
At DRPS everyone is part of the team. It is a very happy and successful school where all are welcome. They pride themselves on valuing every child and helping them to achieve all they can, whatever their unique gift or talent. Staff endeavour to deliver an exciting and relevant curriculum which inspires and motivates pupils enhancing the pupils’ learning through visits and visitors linked to curriculum themes which enriches their experiences. They encourage children to be independent learners and thinkers, developing them as responsible members of their community. The school’s partnership with parents is vitally important to them as they firmly believe that children have the best chance of success when the school and families work together.
Sources of Evidence
The two-day assessment of the school was undertaken virtually due to the current pandemic. However, this did not in any way compromise the depth, breadth and integrity of the assessment process. The information from the Self Evaluation Report, the ADP, website and a plethora of documents and online meetings, were all triangulated to ensure that all elements of the Inclusion Quality Mark’s Inclusive School Award were not just established but were fully embedded in the school’s everyday practice. The schedule for the two days was extremely well organised and ensured that I was able to speak with the staff, parents, pupils, governors, and external partners all of whom spoke confidently and passionately about inclusion and about their involvement with DRPS. It became apparent as the assessment unfolded over the two days that inclusion, occurs naturally and is a highly pervasive and ingrained element in the positive culture of the school, as is the dedication and drive of the staff to make a positive difference to everyone they work with fitting seamlessly with the mission statement ‘Bringing Out the Best in Everyone’ and their school rules, ‘Be Kind, Be Curious and Be the best I can be’. These are truly inclusive statements that everyone involved with the school models daily.
A Vibrant, Warm and Welcoming School
During the assessment in this extremely vibrant, warm, and welcoming school, I found a genuine ambition and integrity amongst the staff revealing that what matters most are the pupils, their families, and the community. It was clear from discussions that all receive equitable provision and support. Each member of staff, governor and external partner spoken to was dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled. Their sense of drive and determination to improve the outcomes for all came through extremely strongly. The implementation of rigorous structures and processes supports the staff in all areas and at all levels to work strategically and collaboratively. Inspirational and aspirational leadership from SLT, coupled with strong teamwork among the staff, are at the core of the school’s highly inclusive practice. Staff support each other to develop their skills and they are highly motivated to improve and to improve the lives of everyone involved with the school so that they achieve their potential and goals. Leaders spoken to in numerous meetings were clear about the vision and next steps for DRPS. They have excellent reflective skills in their leadership wanting the best outcomes for all pupils no matter their starting points or individual needs. No one is left out or behind at Devonshire Road Primary School.
Unwavering Passion and Determination
All staff are included and buy into the vision and values of the academy and are passionate about their pupils succeeding, with an unwavering passion and determination to ensure that every pupil receives the best education possible during their time at DRPS. It was clear throughout the assessment that staff will not settle for anything but the best.
High Quality Learning Experiences
During the pandemic, the staff continued to deliver high quality learning experiences for their pupils and went above and beyond what is expected to ensure that pupils and families continued to be supported and were able to access appropriate teaching and learning opportunities. Excellent communication with pupils, the timely provision of teaching materials and technology ensured that pupils managed to continue working and learning so that gaps in knowledge can now be more readily addressed in school. The school also supported by families by delivering food boxes to families that were tailored to their specific needs and was recognised by the DfE https://twitter.com/educationgovuk/status/1367862490483331072. This is
a fantastic achievement and supports the outstanding inclusive practice seen at the school over the assessment. Scheduled discussions during the assessment allowed an outstanding picture of the school’s intuitive and natural inclusivity to emerge. It was a privilege to engage in so many discussions and conversations over the course of a hectic and busy two days, with such enthusiastic, dedicated, and professional staff, pupils, governors, and external partners.
Supporting During the Pandemic
The initial conversation with the Headteacher and IQM Lead on day 1 set the scene for the assessment and discussion focussed on the school’s journey under her leadership to where they are now, the support offered to everyone since the beginning of the pandemic and highlighted some areas of the school’s comprehensive SER to be explored. During the lockdowns the school provided one timetabled live teaching session daily and a minimum of four daily tasks set via Teams (KS2), email (KS1) and Tapestry (EYFS) with scaffolds and differentiation where appropriate. Daily tasks were in line with planned curriculum content for delivery in school, that included a mixture of online and paper-based activities set. Teaching support was offered via live ‘chat’ on Teams or through email/tapestry contact for the younger children. All work was acknowledged and assessed, and appropriate feedback is given. A mixture of planned intervention, post-teaching, pre-teaching, 1:1 video/phone calls and recorded content supported children’s learning in response to assessment. Further support for remote learners was available where technology was difficult for families. They were able to borrow laptops or received paper packs of work weekly. Where necessary, work was planned individually (as it would be in school), and for EHCP pupils, specific programmes, such as speech and language therapy, were delivered using Microsoft Teams live sessions with their 1-1 Teaching Assistant. Weekly ‘phone calls were made to check-in with these families to support well-being, check how they were how managing with the work and as a general way of touching base with each family.
Sources of Evidence
Further meetings were undertaken with a cross section of staff, pupils, governors, and partners, these were extremely useful in confirming that the school successfully addresses all elements of the IQM’s Inclusive School Award. Discussions over the two days focused on all elements of the Award as well as a variety of focusses with numerous staff that supported the school’s ingrained inclusive approach that allowed a comprehensive picture of life at the school to be built up and understood. Members of staff felt well supported by the school and felt that they had opportunities to progress and that the school was extremely inclusive and was like a family. It is clear from these wide ranging and involved discussions that everyone involved with the school is highly invested in providing the best possible experience for their pupils and this has an enormously positive effect on their peers and their pupils and is something, they should be proud of. There is a superb level of support for pupils across the school that more than meets need and that the staff and the school should be praised and highly commended for.
A Team Around the Child
Devonshire Road has a strong team of dedicated staff, who give their utmost to ensure the very best for every single child, and to ensure that every pupil has access to all that our school can offer, with staff who have become extremely skilled in specific areas of special needs such as autism and a staff team who want to develop their own skills and specialisms. Some pupils have specific diagnoses, including ASD, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome and Irlen Syndrome, and the school has developed a strong CPD programme to ensure staff understand pupils’ needs providing training for specific members of staff, and bespoke support for certain individuals. The staff work extremely hard to build and maintain a strong working relationship with families and with other agencies who support their pupils and families, truly a team around the child. The school and its staff are active members of a variety of groups within their cluster of schools and the local authority, such as the SENCo cluster group, Headteacher cluster group, Admin cluster group, various working groups and projects such as the recent working group about anti-bullying, joint CPD opportunities between schools and a support group for parents of children with ASD, that they wish to expand and develop to support more pupils and families within the school. They are doing everything within their power to give their pupils the best opportunities that they can, thereby enabling them to be the best that they can be. This is a powerful inclusive statement and vision which, in my opinion, the school and its staff deliver.
An Extremely Supportive Staff Team
Early Career Teachers (formerly NQTs) have a coach allocated who they work closely with. Planned meetings are arranged with professionals in school. New staff are allocated a member of staff to support them, a teaching colleague. There is a clear induction policy, ensuring that all safeguarding expectations and information is passed on. It was evident across the assessment that the staff team are extremely supportive of each other and have someone to turn to for support within school. SLT are always willing to listen to, advise and support staff where possible, and can signpost staff to outside agencies for appropriate, additional support as required. Since the pandemic the school has appointed a Therapeutic Counsellor who supports specific individual pupils, and who is also available to support members of staff.
Outstanding Inclusive Ethos
It was a pleasure and a privilege to visit Devonshire Road Primary School to conduct their virtual assessment underlining their outstanding inclusive ethos, care, nurture, and support at the very heart of their ethos and vision and was talked about and discussed openly during the assessment.
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