Downderry Primary in Kent has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
A Very Special Place
From the moment you enter Downderry Primary School you know you are in a very special place. It is delightful, warm and welcoming and this is complemented extremely well by a high-quality learning environment. The school’s motto “Trying your best equals success/ If you believe you will achieve” is promoted highly effectively by the headteacher’s inspirational, purposeful and totally focused leadership. The buy-in from staff, governors and parents to the school’s motto and mission statement is truly impressive and results in pupils who love learning and are high achievers, and staff who love coming to work. The sense of working together for the benefit of all pupils is tangible throughout. It is very clear from seeing the school’s work, the response from pupils, staff, parents and governors and from the documentation, why Downderry is so special.
Excellent Pupil Behaviour
Pupils’ behaviour is excellent. They are polite, confident and courteous and are very positive about their school. Comments included, “Teachers are funny – They get us excited about learning”, “Teachers make lessons fun, but we still learn stuff”, “We love this school so much”, “We wish there was a Downderry Secondary School”, “Teachers are brilliant – they will always help you with any problems”, “The learning mentor will always help” and “You can always talk to the listening ear if you have a problem.” The pupil voice at Downderry is very good. Pupils are given useful opportunities to take responsibility, for example, as members of the school council, as head girl and head boy (and their deputies), prefects and eco warriors. Without exception, pupils spoke very positively about the school and said there was nothing about it they would like to change. The head girl and head boy were delightful to talk to and their enthusiasm and support for Downderry were very impressive. It is easy to see what excellent ambassadors they make for Downderry, particularly when showing visitors around.
Relationships between pupils are very positive in classrooms, around the school and in the playground. In lessons, pupils are well focused and engaged with their learning. They cooperate well in small groups as well as when working as a whole class. They do so with genuine respect for each other and a real enthusiasm for learning. For example, in Year 2, pupils considering what adventure Viku and the elephant could have came up with some very interesting ideas and could appreciate the views of others. In Year 4, pupils were keen to share their ideas about how to place shapes with parallel sides and lines of symmetry into a Venn diagram. In Year 6, pupils were very engaged with rehearsals for their end of year performance of the Lion King and listened attentively and supportively to each other. Pupils’ relationships with staff are excellent, as evidenced by their interaction in lessons and around the school. The feelings of mutual trust and respect between pupils and staff are impressive. Pupils make outstanding progress. The school’s focus on meeting the individual needs of pupils, together with high quality teaching and learning and effective support for all levels of need, are all contributing very effectively to the excellent progress that pupils make.
Staff have very high expectations of all pupils. This, together with the attention to individual needs and talents, is rewarded by pupils who are excited by their learning and who also know what they are expected to achieve. This approach brings to life the school’s mission statement, which includes: “…we aim to provide a meaningful and enjoyable education which ensures a firm foundation and guides its pupils to make the right choices. Children are nurtured socially and morally to become independent learners…….” It is this passion and vision, led highly effectively by the headteacher, that is helping pupils to make outstanding progress. This collective effort not only helps pupils to develop a love of learning but also promotes a high level of staffing stability very effectively. Staff go the extra mile to ensure that all pupils make at least good progress with their learning and this was evident from what pupils and parents said.
A Very Happy Staff
Staff are very positive about working in the school. Many teachers came as students or NQTs. Some were former pupils or parents. Staff comments included: “Staff work as a team”, “There is a very strong team spirit”, “We are very supportive of each other”, “The staff are fun”, “We are like a family”, “We are here for the children”, “We support children to be independent learners”, “The atmosphere in the school is very special”, “We are very good at teaching children – Everyone is very good at their jobs”, “We ask – what do the children need?”, “The whole school development plan involves everyone”. The strength of teamwork in the school is exceptional, particularly as it is focused on what is best for pupils.
Working with Parents
Parents are very positive about the school and particularly appreciate seeing the headteacher, deputy headteacher or senior staff member at the school gates at the start and end of the day. They find the school very welcoming and friendly and feel that the accessibility of staff makes it easy to get any worries or concerns dealt with quickly. Comments from parents included, “The school is fantastic”, “Staff are friendly and very helpful”, “I moved into the area so my child could attend Downderry”, “We are proud of everything about the school”, “The school deals with any issues quickly, with good conclusions with everyone”, “There is a lot of help with special needs”, “We can talk to the teachers at any time”, “Teachers are well informed about their new classes”, “The headteacher, deputy headteacher and staff are always visible so things get sorted out very quickly – The headteacher and deputy headteacher are at each gate”, “The hierarchy is very visible without being in your face”, “The hierarchy is personable”, “The headteacher knows the name of every child”, “Staff know all the children really well”, “Staff are friendly and understanding”, “Nothing is too much trouble for the staff”, “The school is spot on – It couldn’t be better”, “We would highly recommend this school to others” and “I am passionate about the school.”
High Quality Learning Environment
The learning environment inside and outside the school is of excellent quality. The school benefits from having a swimming pool. There are also dedicated, well equipped rooms, for example, learning pods, a music room, a food tech room, a room for use by the breakfast club and after school club (the Den) and a small gym (for use by pupils and staff). There is also a discovery room with a highly sophisticated sensory pod which offers pupils extraordinary sensory experiences to enhance their learning, for example, the ability to smell the effects of a volcano erupting while hearing and watching the eruption on a screen. All rooms and designated spaces are used very effectively to support pupils’ learning, particularly those with additional needs. The staff room is also of high quality and as such promotes staff well-being very effectively by being attractive, comfortable and welcoming.
Attractive and colourful displays in classrooms and around the school clearly demonstrate just how much pupils’ work is valued and how their achievements are recognised and celebrated. Certificates, awards and trophies are also displayed, again reinforcing the idea that all pupils’ achievements are celebrated by the school.
Attractive Outside Areas
Downderry benefits from beautiful, well equipped, very attractive outside areas. These include a Zen garden and other garden areas. Play spaces are inviting and include a climbing wall, gazebo, seats and benches and a caged area for football or basketball and various playground markings for games. All classrooms have direct access to the outside and canopies allow pupils to use outdoor facilities when the weather is bad. The school is kept very clean and tidy, both inside and out, which makes an important contribution to the overall quality of the learning environment. The school is very well resourced and provision for ICT is outstanding. The quality and use of technology in the school is truly impressive.
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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