Elm Park Primary School, Hornchurch in Essex, has achieved Flagship School status.
Elm Park Primary School is larger than the average-sized primary school. It is housed in a modern building and has high quality resources to meet the needs of all of its children. The school is a Restorative School. Restorative practice is a way of working with conflict that puts the focus on repairing the harm that has been done. It is an approach to conflict resolution that includes all of the parties involved. Every teacher is considered a teacher of SEND and practices throughout the school emphasise that approach. Children are given a number of key responsibilities throughout the school to build on their independence and leadership qualities. These include Learning Experts, that support other children, Play Leaders, Digital Leaders, Peer Mentors and More Able Maths Superstars. The school motto is ASPIRE (Achieve, Success, Persevere, Independence, Respect and Enthusiasm) and can be seen as a reminder to staff and children around the school. The school caters well for children with special needs in its Treehouse and Orchard settings and also for More Able Children where it has an enrichment programme that has had to be curtailed due to Covid but will be restarting the range of activities as soon as restrictions allow.
Emotional Literacy Provision
There has been a big focus on whole class reading in recent months with extracts from texts, poems and song lyrics being amongst the ways in which to inspire children. Comprehension has incorporated Blooms Taxonomy questioning to encourage higher order thought and ‘drop everything and read’ has given children the opportunity to see their teacher’s read. The use of WAGOLLs (What Does A Good One Look Like) to promote good practice is a common feature of displays around the school. In maths times tables rockstars, times tables every day and a comprehensive programme to address the needs of all children ensures that maths progress and attainment are high. NfER assessments are conducted to provide a baseline for progress and Y6 children have already taken past SATS practice papers to give teachers an understanding of the impact of covid and where the emphasis should be placed this coming year leading up to national testing. LbQ (Learning by Questions) is used by the school. It saves teachers time and increases their efficiency by highlighting which students need their help and which concepts need teaching during lessons. There is a marking station in each class with fast feedback using the ‘chilli challenge’ which gives children a choice over the activities they complete. The curriculum is broad with regular trips out and visits from outside providers to reinforce children’s learning planned half termly during normal times. There is also an emphasis on a multisensory approach to learning ensuring all children can access the curriculum. ‘Every child a Talker’ strategies are presently being used in school to develop children’s language skills and is particularly appropriate after the recent lockdown problems. The school also has two counsellors who carry out a six-week programme to reinforce their Emotional Literacy Support. They presently have 10 children on the programme, with a waiting list of 30 children.
Parental View is Incredibly Positive
The school building is large and there are a number of outbreak spaces for children to follow up their class learning. Often a timer and specific strategies are provided for the children to ensure that they return to the class setting within a required space of time. A large green sofa in one of the many spaces has a multitude of uses. It can be reserved for drama, assemblies, singing practices and for just a meeting space for parents. The assessor saw it being used for a meeting of prospective parents visiting the school on the day of the assessment. The assessor also experienced a fire drill, with the parents and was able to speak to prospective parents, who spoke highly of the standing of the school in the local area. Parent view is incredibly positive about the school with 98% of parents indicating that they would recommend the school to others. The school has a breakfast and after school club and a lot of children attend. There is a cooking area with an oven and hob which can be used by class groups on a timetabled basis.
Outdoor Area Well Utilised
The outdoor environment is well equipped to ensure outdoor learning and play activities are given high priority. Areas for the EYFS have a mud kitchen, sandpits, bike tracks, art galleries, climbing areas and a sheltered area for chatting under the trees. There is continuous provision for children up to Year 2 using the indoor and outdoor areas and the EYFS was an Early Adopter School so is well prepared for the new EYFS framework which became statutory in September. Raised beds for older children to learn about sustainability are cultivated throughout the year. There is also a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) for older children for sports such as tennis, basketball, football, and netball. Equipment is provided for children at break times with play leaders offering their help and support. There is also a Forest Schools Area which is being developed over the coming year. The school has a trained Forest School Practitioner, and the site will be developed in order that activities outdoors might link with topics in the classroom.
Great ICT Support
The school is well equipped to deliver its technology curriculum. The ICT Systems Manager is enthusiastic about her role and has ensured that the school has a wealth of ICT support. Each year group has a bank of iPads, MacBooks, and computers. She also played an important part in supporting parents with IT provision at home during lockdown. 90 pieces of equipment were loaned out by the school and there was also a hot desk facility for staff and parents to assist with any issues. She is critically aware of security and protecting the IT systems and staff and pupil data and has gone out of her way to ensure that safeguarding systems are in place. There is a rolling 3-year plan for IT provision, which will ensure the school is cloud based. The school is a Google Champion School and the promotion of IT skills through the school is a strength.
Wellbeing of All is Essential
The school continues to place the child’s needs deeply at the centre of its work. During the present pandemic, the school’s care and attention to the wellbeing of staff, pupils and parents has been highlighted. The Treehouse provision and the Orchard provision are examples of that commitment. The Treehouse provision is housed in what was previously the staffroom. Before setting up this provision the SENDCO looked at similar provisions elsewhere. Originally it catered for children with ASD, but after lockdown it became apparent that there needed to be two provisions and the Orchard provision was set up in the small hall. The Treehouse now addresses the social, emotional and mental health of children who have a low attainment in terms of the curriculum but are able to learn and the focus is on speaking and listening. These children still have time in class dependent on their needs and have opportunities to express how they feel with fear, anger, joy, sadness, and disgust given the time for discussion. They also have an outdoor area which gives them their own space to take part in more extensive activities.
During lockdown over 100 children still attended school and children in the Treehouse thrived. All the activities are individually planned with a workstation and with an in and an out tray and time for individual teaching where and when it was needed.
School Rewards Strategy
The Orchard provision has 7 or 8 children with ASD, and 3 children with cerebral palsy. This provision offers more freedom and flow with some children also timetabled to go back into class. It uses a visual timetable (PECS). There is a schedule and rewards and an ‘Attention Autism’ approach focusing on developing attention and listening skills and giving the children an invitation to learn. The process uses a bucket full of motivating and exciting toys and gadgets, which will be of high interest to the children. Other staff have been given an insight to this practice through videos during lockdown which looked at a range of different needs. It is also planned to provide teachers with half a day in both the Treehouse and Orchard provisions, to give them an understanding of the resources and learning offered to the children.
The school has created an effective team of Senior Leaders and staff who share the vision for the school and the aspirations for all pupils to achieve highly. The school moves from strength to strength in improving opportunities for all its pupils. It has many innovative and embedded strategies to involve and excite all its pupils. Leadership is strong and all staff have common aims and work closely with families in the school and in the local area.
Committed to Inclusive Practice
Elm Park Primary School is an example of a school committed to meet the needs of its children and is outstanding in its commitment to and implementation of inclusive practice. The School continues to move from strength to strength in terms of its inclusive practice and has staff that are truly working for the needs of all children.
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