Dixons Cottingley Academy, Bingley in Bradford, part of the Dixons Academies Charitable Trust LTD, has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
School In Context
Based in Bingley in Bradford, Dixons Cottingley Academy converted to become part of the Dixons Academies Trust in 2018. It is important to note that the school has been on a considerable journey in recent years as it has navigated not only the academisation process but also dealing with the restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Passion and Purpose
At the very heart of these changes, inclusivity has undoubtedly been a key focus and it was a pleasure to witness SLT’s sense of passion and purpose. On the school website it notes, “all students should receive an educational experience that enables them to learn, grow as individuals and contribute to society, regardless of their backgrounds or starting points” and it was clear that this ambition was the driving force behind the changes implemented.
The academy has three key values that it seeks to instil in the children and the community it serves:
Determination: we never give up. No matter how challenging things get, we persevere & succeed.
Integrity: We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
Trust: We are always honest. We can be depended upon to support each other without excuses.
From the learning walks it was clear that these values are having a positive impact on all children as behaviours are improving and consequently exclusions are reducing. These values are instilled and reaffirmed in morning line up; in transitions; and in conversations with students.
Clearer structures and processes have also been embedded within the academy since its conversion and all staff follow “What to Dos” on even the most basic routines, so that there is always clear direction and everyone in the building understands the expectations. The Principal described the key change as one from a “culture of negotiation to a culture of consistency with sanction” so that all students were afforded with high expectations of behaviour and conduct. A Y10 student noted that he felt safer in school and felt he could learn more from when he joined in Y7 as disruption was addressed.
However, it was also clear over the course of the visit that, whilst these high expectations were unwavering, the academy worked relentlessly behind the scenes to understand reasons for non-compliance and carried out extensive restorative work with students to ensure that they could be supported to reach these. Non-teaching Associate Directors for example focused on relationship development and building rapport with students so that when a student did receive a ‘correction’ they can carry out effective restorative conversations and enact early intervention. It is important to note here that in incredibly challenging cases of student behaviour, the academy does allow discretion and personalisation of sanctions.
The academy’s reputation as a now successful school is growing, although it is recognised that this has been no easy feat for the school due to the predecessor school’s Ofsted report. Students feel frustrated that the reputation of the school was still ‘questionable’ in the local community because they recognised that Dixon’s Cottingley was now a school to be proud of. One student had said that his parents were reluctant to send him to DCA but are now incredibly pleased they did. He said “Now, when you hear the name Dixon’s, it gives you that wow factor.”
The academy encourages high aspirations, high motivation, and high achievement for all, and this vision applies equally to students identified with any kind of special education need. The philosophy is to educate students as far as possible within the normal provision of the academy, which includes ensuring that the most vulnerable students are with the most qualified specialist and not taken out of the classroom. Therefore, where possible, the academy does not operate a 1 to 1 approach but uses TAs to support within lessons. All teaching staff of course use individual understanding, nurture, and flexibility to ensure SEND students can be successful within the classroom. This is supported by student IEPs (Individual Education Plans) and EIP (Early Intervention Plans).
Inclusion at its Core
The Trust’s commitment to inclusive education is further evidenced through resources and funding allocated to the leadership and staffing of inclusive practice. Three Assistant Principals sit within Thrive (Inclusion) and are joined by a SENDCO, Safeguarding Officer, and Attendance Manager, and three Directors of the Curriculum phase and a School Nurse. When staff were asked to describe the inclusive ethos of Cottingley Academy in one word, they selected words such as “care, support, and life-changing.” Every member of staff who contributed to the assessment process demonstrates genuine commitment to the inclusion agenda so that all students would leave the academy “empowered to lead a happy, purposeful and successful life.”
The leaders are clear about the vision and next steps for the school, as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Importantly, SLT recognise that their key area of development is increasing attendance levels at the academy and consequently they are building upon the rigorous Attendance Policies and procedures and implementing a wide variety of initiatives to encourage school attendance. The academy has also recently expanded the Attendance Team to a team of four to ensure that with every child absence there is at least a phone call and, by the second day, a home visit.
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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