Staff Spoke Passionately About Inclusion
Gossey Lane Academy is a one-form entry school located in Kitts Green, Birmingham. There is one class in each year group from Reception to Year 6. The school is an academy converter. It joined the Washwood Heath Multi-Academy Trust in May 2016. The local academy advisory board works with the Headteacher and senior leaders to provide the strategic direction for the school. Most pupils at Gossey Lane are of White British heritage, with other pupils coming from a range of minority ethnic backgrounds. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) is below the national average. The proportion of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is higher than that found in most primary schools and the proportion of disadvantaged pupils is well above average. The school sits in the top 20% of schools nationally for deprivation.
This is Gossey Lane Academy’s first IQM assessment. The information from the IQM SER, the school’s website and policies, alongside a tour of the school and onsite meetings were all triangulated to ensure that the standards of Inclusion Quality Mark had been embedded in everyday practice. The self-assessment was completed thoroughly and to a high standard and all members of staff spoke passionately about each aspect of inclusion.
Everyone is Included
Following an Ofsted inspection early in 2023 in which aspects of SEND provision were given as a target, leaders have worked tirelessly to change the culture of the school and to ensure that everyone is included. It is evident that there has been a complete shift in the ethos across school and inclusion is now at the heart of everything the school does. The Headteacher and SENCo are inspirational in their commitment to improving outcomes for their most vulnerable pupils and their enthusiasm and hard-working nature have ensured that all staff are supporting them on every step of their journey. The team is a ‘family’ and staff spoke about how, “if one person is down, everyone steps in to support them”.
Everyone is now aligned to the same vision and leaders have shown a commitment to upskilling all staff so that they are confident in their ability to support all pupils across the school, as well as supporting each other.
Professional development is a golden thread that was discussed throughout each of the meetings and the Headteacher is aware that staff need to be given time to learn and develop their own knowledge. Alongside her team, the Headteacher uses research effectively to decide on any new course of action. Leaders consider the workload of staff before introducing any new initiative and they understand the need to monitor any new initiatives to assess the impact. The SENCo is now using the knowledge and skills that she has gained to support schools across the Trust by sharing good practice.
Leaders know Their School Well
It is evident through the documentation completed by the school to support the IQM Assessment that leaders know their school well and can provide evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness. Regular monitoring and evaluation, at all levels, ensure that the provision is continuously improving. Leaders are aware of their next steps for improvement and the word ‘pro-active’ was used repeatedly by numerous stakeholders when describing the leadership team.
On entering the school, the friendly and welcoming environment is obvious. The office staff are warm and kind and are seen as an essential extension of the school team. Leaders made a conscious change to the start of the school day, widening the window for arrival so that all pupils can receive their own individualised hello through ‘Gossey’s Greetings’. Where necessary, staff go out to greet pupils who need more encouragement and support to get into school. This ensures a positive start to the school day and helps pupils settle to their learning.
The safeguarding team within school is aware of the challenges faced by some of their families and they acknowledge that complex support must be offered to some families for their pupils to succeed in education. There are many trained safeguarding leads across school and the Senior Learning Mentor’s role has evolved to meet the growing needs of the school community.
The ‘Best It Has Ever Been’
Staff at Gossey Lane Academy describe the school as the, “best it has ever been” and are grateful that their senior leaders have an, “open-door policy at all times, for all people”. They speak highly of the leaders’ investment in their professional development. They know that they can go to anyone to seek advice and that if there is a challenge, everyone will work as a team to solve any given problem. They support the leaders’ vision to ensure that all pupils are included in all aspects of school life and despite new initiatives creating more work initially, they believe that this has now improved and that workload will continue to decrease.
Our Assessor concluded, “It was a pleasure to witness the close-knit team at Gossey Lane Academy and the passion of all staff to strive to be better so that the good practice can be shared. There was a real sense of purpose across the whole school and it was evident that the pupils were engaged in and enjoying their learning. I have no hesitation in recommending that Gossey Lane Academy join the IQM family of schools. It meets the criteria and is well deserved and I know that their journey will support and inspire others.”
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:
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• Our inaugural National Inclusion Conference will take place on the 27th November, for further details click here.