Elmwood Junior School in Croydon has achieved the Inclusive School Award for the second time.
The school, with a pupil roll of around 480, is larger than the average junior school and is set within a diverse community in an area of high socio-economic deprivation. It is within this context that Elmwood Junior School exists – and THRIVES! The school celebrates the rich range of ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences of its community and values the contributions these make in enriching the curriculum offer for all of its pupils. Saying of itself
“pupils are encouraged to have a strong belief in their own abilities so that through the wealth of opportunities provided they can all achieve their full potential”
Elmwood encapsulates all that is positive about embracing the inclusion agenda.
“Connection” and “Family”
A recurring theme throughout the two-day assessment has been one of “connection” and “family.” It certainly seems that when one has an association with the school, a connection is formed which develops and strengthens with time. Once in the family you are always part of the family! For instance, senior staff have worked at the school for many years and have been promoted into the positions from within. Whilst the governors put this down to the school’s track record with CPD and succession planning – and I agree that is a definite part of it – one also suspects that it’s down to a deeper sense of connection: as the Assistant Headteacher said to me
“I am happy here – there’s just something about Elmwood which makes coming to work here such a positive.”
The parents I spoke to built on this sense of connection, too. One of the parents told of her own time as a pupil at the school and having been taught by the now headteacher when in Year 6. The Governors I met had long associations with the school – the chair for over 30 years and the co-opted representative as a teacher with a great many years’ service at the school, including as a Deputy Headteacher before retirement earlier in the year. The connection – that difficult to articulate sense one has of “belonging” when part of a true family unit – was everywhere I looked and certainly felt like a defining feature of this fantastic school community. Perhaps this was best encapsulated through Mrs Buck, a volunteer in the school who visits weekly to help pupils to read. Mrs Buck is 94 years old and talked to me at length about her connection to the school – having undertaken her teaching practice assignment here after WWII, going on to secure a teaching position at the school for 40 years and now visiting in a voluntary capacity. She is an inspirational lady who personifies the inclusive philosophy that is Elmwood Junior School.
A Wealth of Inclusive Practice
There is a wealth of inclusive practice that touches all aspects of the school community – pupils, staff, parents and partners. These examples include – but are by no means limited to – the following:-
diversity is a strength of the school which is valued and celebrated.
“Emotional Literacy Support Assistant” – role and programme.
“Rights Respecting School” – silver award (fully incorporated and embedded in the school.)
Pupil attitudes, levels of engagement and behaviour are extremely high.
A strong, cohesive and valued staff team with a good attitude for developing their practice.
The inclusive feel and ethos that permeates the school – a real “family” feel. The staff know the children and know each other, readily sharing and celebrating success.
A Supportive, Community Ethos
The Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team set the tone for the supportive, community ethos where cooperation, acknowledgement and celebration of different cultures, aspiration and happiness are truly valued. The school has appropriately high ambitions for its pupils – as enshrined in its strapline “learning together, achieving together, bringing out the best in everyone!” and aims to ensure maximum progress for all through a combination of quality first teaching and carefully considered interventions.
Outside agencies and professionals were all highly complimentary of the school when speaking to the assessor. The independent Education Welfare Officer enthused that Elmwood was a shining example of how attendance could be managed – other schools she works in with similar socio-economic contexts sometimes hide behind that as an excuse for challenging attendance statistics, but Elmwood’s thorough approach, managed expertly by Pauline Macleod, demonstrates that with the right mechanisms, structures and approach in place attendance can be good: in Elmwood’s case above local and national averages.
Team Effort and Collaboration
The Inclusion Quality Mark Co-Ordinator, Jenny Kriesler, has been instrumental in coordinating the IQM self-audit process and must be praised for the professional way in which she has led on this programme throughout the school, acknowledging at all times the team effort and collaboration with teachers and SLT in doing so. The documentation was extremely thorough and articulated the school’s inclusion journey accurately, fairly and clearly. Jenny had built a lot into the itinerary which was a clear sign of how much Elmwood had of which it was proud! Somehow, we managed to get through everything on the schedule! This was, in no small part, down to the fact that the assessment days were well planned and well managed, a further example, should it have been required, of the diligent and professional approach that Jenny brings.
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: email@example.com for further details.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.