Fairfield High School for Girls, Droylesden in Manchester, achieves Inclusive School Award with Flagship School status for the second time.
Fairfield High School for Girls is a thriving, impressive, extremely inclusive and successful 11-16 school built on strong values that informs all they do. Everyone is included, challenged, supported to flourish and is encouraged to work hard to fulfil their aspirations. There is a very real and palpable sense at the school of a setting that is extremely successful and superbly inclusive. Fairfield represents everything that is best about inclusive practice. Staff led by the inspirational and aspirational Headteacher, and her senior team have an acute understanding of its context and a drive and a passion to support their pupils and their families with the highest aspiration for them all. It is a superb school where inclusion, care, nurture and support are at the heart of everything that happens at the school and is naturally ingrained in every aspect of school life.
Clear Evidence of Inclusion
It is very clear from the evidence of this and previous reviews that everyone involved with the school prides themselves on providing the very best of education, care, nurture and support for everyone and this is achieved in a vibrant, caring and friendly environment whether you are a pupil, a parent or a member of staff. It is a thriving hub of educational and inclusive excellence where each member of staff is committed to the school and highly valued by the Headteacher, senior leaders and each other. They have strong and positive relationships with families with a high level of trust and honesty. It is clear that this has been extremely beneficial during the pandemic, as staff have continued to go and above and beyond what is expected to ensure that learning has been tailored to the needs of groups and individual pupils and well balanced so that families have had minimum additional pressure. The school’s actions to care for its pupils and families and its staff, in my judgement, continues to be superb.
Everyone Understands Their Roles
Discussions with key members of staff were extremely useful in confirming that the school continues to address all 8 elements of the IQM Inclusive School Award very successfully. During the online review meetings, discussions were held with staff to discuss key aspects of the school and its inclusivity that was supported by documentary evidence to enhance and underpin discussions, which allowed a remote and extremely positive and highly inclusive picture of the school to be seen. What continues to stand out very clearly from the evidence of this and previous reviews is the pride and the passion of the staff that is shown in the way that they engage and work with each other, pupils and families to more than meet needs, going above and beyond what is expected. This is achieved in partnership with pupils and families providing superb levels of advice and support. Everyone at Fairfield understands their role and works in harmony and collaboration with each other to achieve successful outcomes for everyone. Collaboration and exceptional teamwork are key to everything that happens at the school. Staff pride in their superb inclusivity where they naturally and actively promote equality and diversity stood out during this review, as it has in previous reviews. They are committed to maximising the success, achievement and outcomes for all pupils and each other. The school and its community should be justifiably proud of their success in this respect, where no one is left out or behind and where everyone is included. Meetings held with staff gave a vibrant and detailed picture of inclusive life at Fairfield since the last review in February 2020 where they have offered superb levels of care, nurture and support, and they have made great strides with their identified Flagship project that is clearly and comprehensively detailed in the report above.
Operating After Lockdown
The initial meeting with the Headteacher looked at how the school has moved forward since the last online review in terms of inclusion, how they had successfully operated since the return to school in September 2020 and subsequent lockdown in January and how they had provided online learning opportunities as one would expect from such a superbly inclusive setting. There was a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of their Flagship project for 2020 – 21, the evolution of the project for 2021 – 22, prioritising educational recovery programmes for disadvantaged pupils and Saturday morning catch up programmes for year 10 pupils, along with other initiatives to support the pupils of the school during such a difficult time. It was clear from this wide-ranging and interesting conversation that staff supported by the Headteacher, and senior leaders have and continue to be determined to ensure that pupils are supported, whatever it takes, and they continue to be very proud of the lengths they have gone to and will go to ensure the pupils in their care are making up for lost time and achieve successful outcomes.
Staff are Committed Long Term
Further meetings were held with a variety of staff to look at aspects of their ongoing Flagship, ‘Engaging passive learners.’ Where each meeting clearly demonstrated the passion of the staff who see their roles in school not as a job but as a long-term career choice and a vocation with a clear determination and drive to positively impact the lives of their pupils and families and to ensure that they receive the best possible outcomes and care.
The Flagship Project
The meetings during the review were wide-ranging, extremely pertinent and interesting and they focussed on the development and evolution of the school’s personal development programme that includes a commitment to a dedicated slot each afternoon as part of form time with a structured programme in place that covers a wide range of SMSC and Capital Culture opportunities, mindfulness sessions, themed days and weeks at key points in the school year. It will be interesting to see how this has evolved at the next review; a further review of progress in terms of the Flagship project outlined above including the actions and targets for next year and a more wide-ranging conversation about inclusion across the school in relation to the 8 elements of the award and the school’s vision, values and ethos; a discussion about, and review of, pupil learning data, how the school uses the 3 tracking windows across the year at the end of each term and a conversation about CEIAG within the school and the effect on what was offered due to the effects and restrictions brought about by the pandemic; an in-depth conversation about how the school is engaging learners and how the mapping of personal development has been interrupted to a degree by the pandemic.
Wellbeing Support Groups
However, we were able to talk at some length about the phenomenal lengths the school and staff had gone to, to support pupils throughout the pandemic including their involvement with ‘BeeWell’, a wellbeing measurement and improvement framework for secondary schools in Greater Manchester. Plans for the new academic year that will have an increased focus on personal development and a brief conversation about MYRIAD, the wellbeing study trial that the school is involved in with Oxford University and the report that is due to be published soon; an enlightening conversation about teaching and learning and CPD opportunities for staff during the last year, what has worked well and the focus for the year ahead and that clearly demonstrated the school’s flexibility and inclusive approach. There was also the opportunity to talk to an NQT and an RQT about their experiences in the school as new members of staff in relation to inclusion and the elements of the Award, both members of staff were articulate and spoke very well about their experiences in the school since their appointments, are superb ambassadors for the school and were very clear it is a friendly and highly inclusive place to work, where they felt valued and part of the team.
A final meeting revisited with a focus on relevant research about engaging learners such as metacognition and went into detail about what has been put in place across both KS3 and 4 such as the use of Elevate Education who ran a study skills session for Year 10 recently that was extremely successful, and they will be back in October to deliver a follow-up session to the same year group in year 11 and what is planned for the year ahead.
A Superbly Inclusive School
It was a privilege to meet such passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic staff, who are supported to achieve success and deliver outstanding support and teaching in a superbly inclusive school. What continues to stand out very clearly is the pride and the passion of the staff that is demonstrated in the way that they engage and work with each other, pupils and families to more than meet needs, going above and beyond what is expected. This is achieved in partnership with pupils and families providing superb levels of advice and support. Their superb teamwork is key to their success where all members of staff are committed to maximising the success, achievement and outcomes for all pupils and each other. The school and its community should be justifiably proud of their success in this respect, where no one is left out or behind and where everyone is included.
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