The Ferrars Academy, Luton in Bedfordshire, achieves the Inclusive School Award for the fourth time.
The Ferrars Academy is a larger than average gender mixed infant academy, serving the local population and staff of the nearby NHS hospital. The Ferrars Academy is in a built- up residential area of Luton, close to the Lewsey Park community and Luton and Dunstable University Hospital; the Academy is a stand-alone academy. The area surrounding the school is part of Luton with a diverse population of cultures, religions, and languages. Over 80% of pupils come from black or ethnic groups. At the time of assessment, the Academy catered for 334 pupils aged 3 -7, had the average number of SEND, Pupil Premium and children entitled for free school meals and a high proportion of EAL pupils.
School Building and Grounds
The Ferrars Academy building is all on one level, with recently added extensions to the front; the added rooms enhance the building’s architecture and provide the Academy with much needed extra space for adults and children. There are outside grounds including a playground, with a number of quads and a field used for sport and outdoor activities. The grounds are very well kept and tidy, giving the impression of the Academy being a well-managed and cared for place, that is aesthetically pleasing and inviting.
Colourful and Inviting Classrooms
All classes are above average classroom size, and all have access to outside areas, which are utilised as a learning space when appropriate. Classrooms are tidy, colourful and reflect children’s current work as well as the Academy’s ethos and values. On the day of the IQM assessment, all pupils observed were immersed in learning with confidence of knowing what they were doing. There was a sense of easiness and feeling of togetherness in their interaction with peers and teachers, and familiarity with the environment.
Calm and Positive Environment
The Academy’s physical environment is organised to accommodate interventions and provide a quiet space for a small number of SEND pupils, when it is required. It is also organised to help promote a calm, positive atmosphere and responsible behaviour that contributes to wellbeing of all who work there. There are reminders about the Academy’s belief in inclusion all around the building in the form of attractive displays, pieces of information and artwork that is also used effectively to convey the Academy’s values. Among them is a photograph of a currently employed teacher wearing distinctly traditional clothes and playing a classical guitar. Though this is not an unusual combination, it stands out as an example of cultural diversity and mixing of cultures and traditions that captures this Academy’s community ethos very well indeed.
The Ferrars Academy has as a very well-equipped ICT suite and enough computers for a class of 30 to access at one time, with each child having their own computer. In addition to that, there are enough iPads and other electronic devices for children to use to access or enhance their learning. The Round Room at the front of the building serves as an additional space for performing arts and PE related activities and facilitates wraparound care that the Academy offers to parents. This provision is offered before the Academy opens for lessons (7.45am Early Birds’ session) and after (4.15pm, first session and 4.15 – 5.30 pm, second session of Night Owl). This childcare time was available to all pupils with an aim to “instil the importance of breakfast/healthy eating and promote independence skills.” By extending Academy hours to some pupils, the Academy supported parents but at the same time has not lost sight of its main purpose – to educate children. This is an example of inclusive partnership, and the parents were extremely grateful to the Academy’s leadership for practical help that has the interest of their children at the heart of their decision.
The major developmental work since the last IQM assessment and particularly during the last 12 months, has been curriculum redesign to make it fit the 21st-century world with its rapid changes and challenges. This has been a big piece of work that involved leadership and staff collaborating on producing a comprehensive curriculum that is purposeful, meaningful, and inclusive. Staff at the Ferrars Academy were on board from first day the work on redesigning the curriculum began. The presentation at the local WAP, discussions, research, and amendments in view of the expanding networking and the growing understanding of what the final version of the curriculum should look like, allowed the Academy to produce the curriculum that fits the purpose. However, not surprisingly, Covid-19 affected internal work on curriculum progression therefore leadership has planned to spend some time in September on refocusing and revising the work that has been achieved so far. In conversation around the new curriculum, leadership and staff commented on how everybody rose to the occasion and that such close collaboration contributed to their CPD and a greater understanding of the interplay between each curriculum dimension: knowledge, skills, character, and metacognition.
Pupils at The Ferrars Academy are happy, engaged with learning and they clearly enjoy being at the academy; they value and praise their teachers and adults who work with them. In the meeting with the IQM Assessor, the children stated that they like:
“How all teachers are kind.”
“There are lots of children in school and everybody has at least one friend”.
They were confident and articulate, able to explain the Academy’s reward system, and in summary used words like spectacular, caring, terrific, fabulous, magnificent, friendly, colourful, amazing, and great when describing their academy without being prompted by adults. Considering their age, it is an impressive list of adjectives. This is clearly a place where children are developing their personality, learning about how to conduct themselves in a range of situations and feeling safe and cared for by all professionals.
Strong Leadership Team
At The Ferrars Academy, leadership and staff form a strong team united in their desire to create a happy and safe place for children to thrive. Together, they all work tirelessly to continually drive the Academy forward and to overcome the difficulties that the pandemic posed to all stakeholders. This was evident from the discussions with the Principal, IQM Lead, the Governors, and confirmed by subsequent conversations with members of staff. Further evidence was seen during the academy tour, in documentation and a smooth running of the Academy on the day of the visit.
Provision During Lockdown
The Academy stayed open all the time throughout the lockdowns, first for a small number of pupils in one bubble and then gradually increasing a number of children and reaching almost full capacity. Though the pandemic restrictions brought some difficulties, and disruptions, the relationships between people strengthened, including relationships with parents. Parents felt they were listened to and helped, and that the Academy reached out to everybody to reassure, support, and provide resources so that the children were occupied meaningfully at home.
Lessons from Lockdown
Leadership observed that the legacy of the lockdowns is that some children were inactive, and this resulted in increased obesity. They responded immediately by increasing number of physical activities in the Academy and signposted parents to external agencies to seek help. This work will continue in the next academic year also as part of the reviewed curriculum.
Positive SEND Provision
Almost all SEND pupils within the provision are integrated with the rest of the pupils, which impact positively on their wellbeing and teach others tolerance and acceptance of differences and individuality. A small number with significant learning difficulties access designated areas and are integrated with their class whenever it is possible. This means that all pupils are provided in line with their needs; consequently, they become confident, able to express themselves and enjoy learning and being together.
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.
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