The Gipsy Hill Federation continues to embody highly inclusive principles, which underpin all aspects of the life and work of its member schools. The strength of the vision, which emanates from the CEO and the Executive Heads and then is upheld by Heads of Schools and their staff, continues to ensure outstanding outcomes for children in extremely diverse communities. Quite simply, the philosophy is based on equality of opportunity for all children, regardless of ability or background, with the emphasis on supporting all children to access all the schools have to offer.
The staff are truly dedicated. They continue to strive for excellence using an impressive array of analytical systems which prompt swift intervention should any child risk under-achievement in relation to reaching their potential. Aspirations are high. This positively impacts on the way in which children believe in themselves and describe their ambitions for the future.
Behaviour is Excellent
Behaviour within the Federation schools continues to be excellent and children are focused and enthusiastic about their work. They are articulate and confident when discussing their learning and are able to describe their progress both within the context of individual lessons and over time. Children appreciate the support they receive from the staff, who have excellent knowledge of the pupils and provide a caring and nurturing environment. During the review period, there was significant snow in London. Despite their extreme excitement, the children were exemplary in their behaviour, following the guidance set by staff for their outdoor playtimes or their ‘snow parties.’ It was a pleasure to witness the children enjoying the fun, but still adhering to the rules set by the staff to keep them safe.
Highly Engaging Curriculum
The curriculum continues to be highly engaging and well planned, drawing on strengths and expertise across the federation. Year leaders and lead practitioners support year teams in planning across subjects, with literacy skills at the forefront. This is in recognition of the needs of the communities, since GHF continues to serve areas with very high percentages of EAL children. Despite the focus on basic skills, the curriculum is vibrant, broad and creative as evidenced by the children’s workbooks, coupled with their obvious enjoyment.
Delivering Outstanding Provision
Since the 2017 review, leadership teams have continued to deliver outstanding provision despite budget cuts, and some changes within the federation regarding numbers of children on roll. One member of SLT commented
“We have the determination to succeed and deliver the same provision although we may not have as many resources. Instead we think creatively and use the resources we do have in an efficient way, ensuring high quality support for the children.”
Support for Staff is Excellent
Recruitment into teaching in Central London, is another challenge which GHF faces. The federation however has an excellent track record in this respect. Teachers continue to be extremely well supported, valued and trained, which makes working with GHF an attractive proposition. Newly qualified teachers who join the schools are often retained, and the quality of their practice is quickly accelerated. This not only gives them job satisfaction as they are able to deliver high quality inclusive teaching, but it also gives them opportunities to further their careers within the federation. In general, there are many examples of staff stepping up to more senior roles with the knowledge that they will receive outstanding support and mentoring. The flexibility of staff and their willingness to train others, giving their time willingly, is one of the federation’s great strengths.
Reflective and Open Leadership Culture
The leadership culture within the GHF is one of reflectiveness and openness. There is a determination to continually analyse next steps and to implement action plans as appropriate. The federation is far from complacent and strives to continually improve for the benefit of all the children. This highly professional ethos is underpinned by efficient evaluative systems, which promote objectivity, and provide frameworks for monitoring.
The Federation has demonstrated exemplary practice, in its use of the IQM process as a tool for continuous development. Targets set from the 2017 Review have been systematically adhered to, through detailed action planning. This has led to improved practice in relation to IQM criteria and has positively impacted on the outcomes and experience of the children within the Federation schools. This utilisation of an external process, illustrates the Federation’s determination to remain objective. It also demonstrates the prevalence of an invitational approach to feedback. All staff value professional dialogue and the exchange of views. This has been evident during the review process and has demonstrated the commitment the whole staff make to enhancing provision. This engagement with IQM has extended to the GHF’s participation in the Learning Hubs for Centres of Excellence and Flagship Schools and has led to one of the schools planning to host an event.
Reflective and Professional Dialogue
I am therefore of the view that Gipsy Hill Federation of schools both individually and collectively continue to meet the standards for the IQM Centre of Excellence Award. I would like to thank all the schools for their hospitality during the reviews, and for the willingness of staff to enter into reflective and professional dialogue during the feedback sessions.
IQM Cluster Groups
The next review will look closely at how the schools have interacted with their Inclusion Cluster and promoted continuing outreach. Evidence of Cluster working will underpin the capacity for the schools to maintain their COE status.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
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