Elm Park Primary in Hornchurch has been assessed recently and achieved the national award for inclusion.
Context of the School
Elm Park Primary is a 2-form entry primary school serving a diverse population in the Borough of Havering. There are 375 pupils on roll with around 35% from ethnic minorities and 96 children have EAL with various different languages spoken by pupils, including Polish, Bengali and Russian. The catchment area includes significant deprivation and around 20% of pupils qualify for FSM. The number of children with SEND is around 10% with 5% having EHCPs and there is a nurture group, ‘The Tree House’, supporting up to 12 of the most needy children.
A Supportive, Caring, Inclusive Framework
The school is very welcoming with a warm, friendly atmosphere that is evident from arrival at reception. The environment, both outside and inside the school is bright and very positive with beautiful displays in the corridors and classrooms. The headteacher, deputy head and inclusion manager, who form the SLT, set the tone for the supportive, caring, inclusive framework with high expectations of all and they are rigorous in ensuring that the school’s inclusive vision, “Be the best you can be”, is implemented and thoroughly embedded in the life of the school. They lead by positive, enthusiastic example and oversee all aspects of inclusion, enabling staff to try new things in order to do the very best for each individual child. As a result of the combination of excellent teaching and learning strategies, learning support, emotional and social support for children and families and a determination for children to achieve, the progress of pupils at all levels is excellent. The senior team has an open-door policy, they listen to their staff, parents and pupils and are highly respected by all, with the result that everyone works hard as a team to achieve the best possible outcomes for children. The school’s inclusion manager, who is an assistant head teacher, plays a very important role in developing the school’s excellent support for children with diverse needs and works very closely with parents and families. The inclusion of children with SEND is exceptional with pupils’ individual needs at the forefront with an excellent team, including the family support worker, learning mentor, specialist HLTAs and specialist TAs working together to provide exceptional support for children. The ‘Tree House’ is a wonderful nurturing resource for some of the most needy children.
A Collaborative Approach
Teaching and support staff work very well together in a collaborative approach to ensure they do their very best for all pupils. They spend a lot of time in planning thoroughly to meet their pupils’ individual needs. Staff are positive and energetic and are fully committed to the pupils and to the school. Support staff speak very highly of inclusive practices, “We don’t let anything go – nothing gets swept away”, “The head teacher is very approachable – there is time for everyone. We are like a family and we live and breathe inclusion”, “Our inclusion manager/SENCO is amazing – she listens to us and asks us what we think – we do what we think should happen for every child”, “Nothing is static here, we work according to needs and if it’s not working we change it”, “As a team we know each child inside out, we know who is best placed to work with someone. We make it safe and fun – if they haven’t got it at home, we have it here!” Staff share the common, inclusive vision and they feel they have excellent support and resources to enable them to do their work. They are encouraged and enabled to develop their skills through a range of CPD opportunities and regular staff meetings have a strong focus on teaching and learning. Staff wellbeing is also a priority and staff are able to debrief if the day has been difficult. Lessons are planned in detail, ensuring they are interesting and challenging for everyone and there are many imaginative and exciting activities planned for pupils. Another feature of the work of this school is the superb use of ICT throughout the school, led by two key members of staff who ensure that the teaching and use of ICT is of an exceptional quality with many visitors coming to the school to learn from its excellent practice. Other features include the use of a specialist coach to teach PE and examples of the rich curriculum of opportunities including a wide range of curricular trips, school journeys and school clubs.
Enthusiastic and Self-Confident Pupils
Pupils are very happy, articulate, friendly, self-confident and enthusiastic and behave very well around the school, in their lessons and in the playground. They speak very highly of their school and its staff, for whom they have great respect and they know that they are listened to and cared for. Pupils enjoy learning and they explain how the teachers encourage them and make learning fun. They are aware of the different needs that children have and have a clear understanding of inclusion, “Children may have different needs because they come from other countries, speak different languages or have special needs”, said one pupil, while another added, “We don’t leave anyone out in the classroom here – we share ideas on our tables and we never leave anyone out in the playground either”. Pupils are also very aware of what helps them to learn, “We have help desks to develop our vocabulary and we have ‘3 before me’ to make sure we ask a friend, use the help desk or look at the working wall if we get stuck”, “We work in groups so that we can combine our ideas together and make one great idea. We always make sure everyone gets a chance to speak”. There are many opportunities for pupils to take on roles of responsibility in the school, including the school council, the Young Ambassadors, various monitors, sports’ leaders, art leaders, digital leaders and ‘learning experts’. “Our children are real leaders”, commented a member of staff – year 5 children run a lunchtime Lego club; children go to the BETT ICT show every year and go on the stands as experts; children show visitors and parents around the school; they are on staff interview panels and a group of pupils have been to Jersey to show other children how to use ICT in school. Comments made by pupils include – “I like this school because it’s fun and it has many activities to choose from”, “It’s an interactive school and you get lots of opportunities to do things you wouldn’t normally do”, “They make learning fun and we look forward to it”, “There’s great ICT here – we are very lucky”, “It’s a unique school and it stands out because we have so many opportunities”, “We never give up – if we can’t do something, we try and try”, “Every day is a surprise, you can talk to someone who speaks a different language and whose life is different so you can learn lots of different things about people from China, Bulgaria or Romania – they have taught me words in their languages as well”, “We have visitors who come to talk to us and help us to co-operate in groups and incorporate others’ ideas”, “Sometimes, after our lessons, we can read or help someone else”, “We have a wall in our classroom dedicated to quotes – we have music on entry and we read them and think about them”, “We have inspirational speeches in our class”, “If someone is new and doesn’t speak English, we can go on Goggle Translate and write them a Christmas card”, “There is very good behaviour here and we get raffle tickets for a draw on Fridays”, “We are very internet safe people – we recommend safe sites and safe search engines for children, such as Kiddle”.
Progress is Rigorously Monitored
Progress is rigorously monitored and individual targets are set for all pupils. A thorough tracking system and pupil progress meetings every half term ensure that pupils who are not progressing are targeted for interventions or ‘APLES’ where needed. As a result, interventions are tailored to individual needs and are monitored very carefully and adjusted as appropriate. There are rewards for pupils to celebrate their many achievements, which they are very proud and pleased to receive.
Excellent Relationships with Parents
The school has fostered excellent relationships with parents and it finds many ways to communicate with them and to involve them in the life of the school. Parents speak very highly of the school and its staff. A parent spoken to explained the thorough, caring and effective approach that the school takes towards meeting their children’s needs, “The school offered everything in terms of the whole child. This is the school’s reputation – it’s about every child and they are amazingly caring. My son learnt about all the needs a child can have and he accepts everything. The children are caring because the school nurtures everyone”. The school listens to its parents and holds a number of workshops and courses to support parents in supporting their children. Parent surveys indicate that they feel that communication with the school is excellent: the headteacher and senior staff are always available to speak with parents. The family support worker provides excellent support for needy children and their families, including ensuring their wider social and emotional needs are supported. Parents are actively engaged with the school and organise fundraising events for the school through the friends group. The parent forum involves reps from across the school discussing issues of relevance to parents and action is taken as appropriate.
Very Positive Reputation in the Local Community
The school’s reputation in the local community is very positive: it is seen as a beacon of inclusive practice by the LA and there are good links with other local schools, including the main secondary school to which pupils transfer. All staff and pupils spoken to were extremely positive about the school’s work. The school is disseminating its excellent practice in the local area and beyond to help other schools to be more inclusive. Visitors come to see the nurture group with a view to developing their own provision with support from Elm Park and staff from the LA behaviour support team visit to learn from the school’s pastoral programmes. There is a very genuine sense of team effort, of mutual support, of listening, discussing, trying new things and of including everyone. The governing body is fully committed to the school’s vision and they play a very positive, active and supportive role in the school.
Exceptional features of this school include the overall ethos of inclusive values; the excellent behaviour and positive attitudes of pupils and their ability to take on roles of responsibility in the school; the excellent work of specialist support staff working together under the superb leadership of the inclusion manager; the excellent team-work of teaching and support staff; the excellent partnership with parents and the positive leadership of the headteacher and SLT to enable all children to achieve.
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