Fenstanton Primary School in Lambeth has achieved Flagship School status.
Fenstanton Primary is a three-form entry school serving a diverse inner-city community in Tulse Hill, just south of Brixton. It joined the Gipsy Hill Federation in 2012 and was rated as ‘Good’ in December 2017 by OfSTED. It has many children with special educational needs and there are a significant number of families with welfare and emotional needs who rely on the school for support. Many children come here having no English and often with no experience of formal education. The school faces many challenges but the senior leaders approach them, applying an enthusiastic and holistic personal style to each one.
A Warm Welcome
Fenstanton is an IQM Centre of Excellence. On my visit I was met with smiles and felt welcomed from the moment I entered the modern building where I was warmly greeted by the reception staff. I was immediately introduced to the Premises Manager who inducted me with the fire procedures. During the day I met with senior leaders, parents, many staff, children and representatives from external agencies. I went on a learning walk and had lunch with the children. I had the opportunity to go through the action plan with Ms Jan Shah Jahan, the Deputy Head for Inclusion and discuss the school’s inclusion plans for the future.
Addressing Every Child’s Needs
Mrs Bennett, the Headteacher, explained that they look at every child as an individual. They aim to address each child’s individual needs. The inclusion provision is constantly reviewed and evaluated to ensure it meets the growing needs of the community. The school has successfully reintegrated several children from the Pupil Referral Unit. The school offers many interventions to support children with certain needs but the Creative Arts Therapy Team led by Sarah, should be highlighted for the excellent service it offers the children. Here, they find a safe place where the highly trained therapists build nurturing and positive relationships. By using music, art or drama, children are supported to build their relationships, emotional wellbeing and communication skills. Children’s concerns are explored in a supportive, non-judgemental way. This confidential session takes place regularly every week as part of the child’s timetable which does not interrupt their learning.
Pupil Empowerment Champion
Another great strength of the school is the Pupil Empowerment Champion, Olivia Brooks. In a response to the revolution in technology and its impact on the jobs market, she is ensuring this generation of youngsters have built the appropriate skills to utilise and offer in the future. She works with peer mediators and groups of pupils and aims to develop them as independent decision makers. She gives them opportunities to lead events, create links in their learning and will soon have a Pupil Leadership Team to look at how they can improve the curriculum to make it more relevant to their needs. They wanted Black History Month to include local, national and current heroes who the children could relate to. They have led Anti-Bullying Week and raised money for the NSPCC; they have helped lead a Safer Internet Day and a Democracy Day Event. They have developed a peer mediation game and when I spoke to the children about bullying in the playground they genuinely had little or no experience of it at Fenstanton. Last year the peer mediation team must be congratulated for winning the Diana Award. They were described as, ‘exemplary role models who actively support staff to raise awareness of bullying and have supported many children through their disputes and instances of exclusion’. They have created a strategic plan and understand that by working together they can problem solve; become more self-reliant; pre-empt tasks rather than wait for instructions; they can become more engaged and motivated learners if they are encouraged to think about the learning process and they will become more resilient which is vital in tomorrow’s world.
Seeking the Best Solution
Once a need has been identified the senior leaders strive to find staff, space and time to address the need. A lot of thought goes into seeking the best solution. The twelve-week Chatterbox Intervention Programme supports those with speech and language difficulties and has proved very successful. Daily Supported Reading has been running for a number of years across the whole of Year 1. Some Year 6 children assist as it aids their self-esteem. Parents are encouraged to come into school every Friday to listen to children read and the school puts on phonic workshops for parents. Lego Therapy is one of many interventions the school offers certain children.
Resilience and Self-Esteem
Danielle Udogaranya, the Family Support Officer, meets many children and parents throughout her day. She has set up a girls’ group offering them a safe space to talk about their concerns. She understands that many of them need to build up their resilience and self-esteem. She supports families by helping them fill out forms, claiming housing benefit and she acts as a bridge between parents and school.
Parents were Full of Praise
The parents I spoke to could not praise the school more highly. They felt that the staff were easy to talk to and addressed their concerns respectfully and quickly. They appreciate that the staff assisted certain children during the transition into secondary school. One parent whose child has special needs said that their child’s confidence has grown because of the support of the staff. Another parent said that she wishes every school was like this. Some parents come from as far away as Croydon because they believe that it offers their children the best education.
Working with Other Professionals
I met with a representative from the Lambeth Autism Advisory Service and an independent speech and language consultant, both of whom work in the school on a regular basis. They said that their feedback is always carefully considered by senior staff and they enjoy coming into Fenstanton because they know that their professionalism is respected and their advice is acted upon. They feel that there is a joined-up approach and consequently the children’s needs are addressed more successfully.
Working with the Local and Wider Community
Fenstanton is keenly aware of its place in the local community. Children have brought in cans of soup to support the homeless. They are also aware of their responsibilities to the wider community; they have brought in clothes and other items and have raised money for their partner school in Kenya.
IQM Cluster Group
Fenstanton has been part of an IQM Cluster Group for the past year and enjoys listening to how other schools solve their problems and sharing their ideas with them. This is a school which is outward looking and has inclusion at its heart. It knows that there are areas to develop as staff strive to take it to the next level. I recommend that it gains IQM Flagship status which is reviewed in twelve months’ time.
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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:
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