Grovelands Primary in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey has achieved the national award for inclusion.
Context of the School
There are currently 439 pupils on roll at Grovelands with many children coming from a nearby social housing estate whilst others come from private housing. Most children live in close proximity to the school. The school has year groups from Nursery through to year 5, with two classes in each with the exception of two bulge year groups in Years 2 and 3. The current attendance figure stands at 95.8%. The school is growing in popularity with Nursery currently over subscribed for September 2017.
Everyone is Important
Stakeholders believe that inclusion is embedded into the ethos of Grovelands. One pupil said the best thing about the school is that “everyone is important”. She cited that she had some dietary needs, but that the school cook always made sure that her meal was not too dissimilar to the others. A parent said that she had no doubt that the Inclusion Leader would, “Do everything in his power to make my little boy’s journey through school a good one!” There is a drive to bring parents into school, no matter how hard to reach they may be, through an open-door policy and regular workshops. The Inclusion Leader is very approachable and is always available to speak to parents.
Quality First Teaching
There is a very clear message of quality first teaching at Grovelands. A well thought out handbook, which includes waves of intervention, offers many suggestions to new teachers.
A Very Knowledgeable Inclusion Leader
The Inclusion Leader is very knowledgeable and ensures that all stakeholders, including governors, are kept up to date with the inclusion agenda. He speaks knowledgeably about individuals on the SEN register, about their family backgrounds, the support given and progress made. Both staff and parents speak very highly of the support that he gives them. One parent described how the Inclusion Leader had, “turned her life around.”
Good Communication Links
The school works very closely with the Children’s Centre which is on the same site. There is a good communication link between the Inclusion Leader and the centre and many families are signposted there for support and courses including the successful Boys Will Be Boys course.
Committed to Inclusive Practice
Although there is currently some change in the leadership of the school, discussions with the Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Head and Inclusion Leader demonstrated that the Senior Leadership Team are committed to the implementation of inclusive practice in order to ensure a caring environment for their pupils with high expectations, in terms of attainment, progress and wellbeing.
A Values Based School
The school is a values-based school. The 22 values are the focus of displays and assemblies. The values token boxes are the first thing that visitors to the school see in the reception hall. The class boxes are also a focal point in each classroom. This week the focus of the assembly was enthusiasm, which was linked well to the beginning of the Wimbledon tournament.
An Emphasis on Writing
Displays in the corridors and classrooms show an emphasis on writing. The children all write in a cursive script and are confident with this from an early age. The Magical Garden display is based on creative writing, The Journey of the Banana and Snowdon stood out. Once a child has mastered the cursive style they can work towards gaining a pen licence. Several children described a display called the Marvellous Mistakes Board and were quick to tell me that “everyone can learn from their mistakes!” In the entrance hall one wall was a display of certificates which the school had received in thanks for their charity work this year. These included: the NSPCC, Save The Children, the local Food Bank and Children in Need. A display board of the members of the school council also included minutes of their meetings.
Children Feel Safe at School
The children feel safe at school and know who they can talk to if they have a problem, the pupils mentioned the ELSAs as ladies who could help and spoke positively about The SNUG, a small room used for pastoral support. The children were also very aware of E-safety and were able to discuss at length how they could keep themselves safe online. They discussed many of the lessons and special E-Safety days that they had been a part of.
The Importance of Safeguarding
The SLT meet weekly to discuss safeguarding and there are posters displayed around the school signposting children and parents as to who they can talk to if they are concerned. All staff are given regular updates on safeguarding including PREVENT. Visitors to school are handed an informative safeguarding information sheet.
A Dedicated Team of Support Assistants
The school has a team of support assistants, including 4 HLTAs. Meetings with these ladies showed an enthusiastic and dedicated team, keen to improve their own skills in order to help the pupils. Discussions with the TAs who lead Lego Therapy, ELSA support, Speech and Language support and one-to-one support, showed knowledge, passion and commitment to their roles. Parents hold the teaching assistants in high esteem and feel that there is very good communication between the school and families and that the teaching assistants are a contributing factor in this. The Inclusion Leader holds regular TA briefings.
Expanding Children’s Horizons
The school is keen to offer the children opportunities to expand their horizons. During the assessment, a group of year 4s were observed enjoying their trumpet lessons. Piano lessons are also available for those who show an interest in music. After school clubs include knitting, art and gymnastics and the school has close links to Esher rugby club who also deliver after school clubs. The school also takes part in district sporting competitions as well as having links with the local high school. Recently a child from each year group attended a special values assembly held at the high school, each child read a poem they had written. The pupils spoke of the many trips that they had attended, including visits to Chessington, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and regular trips to local allotments. One pupil was keen to explain that even though a recent trip to London Zoo had been cancelled due to parental concern, the school had organised a demonstration of birds of prey as an alternative. The children had thoroughly enjoyed this.
A Strong School Council
The school has a strong School Council, members are changed throughout the year, so that many children have the opportunity to sit on it. In discussion, the children told me about some of the objectives and ideas from the school council, including a strawberries and cream sale to raise money for playground equipment. The children feel that their ideas are listened to by the staff. There is also a school newspaper run by the most able pupils; articles include why Grovelands is so great, as well as articles about activities happening in school and interviews with the staff.
An Active PTA
Grovelands has an active PTA, who had held their annual summer fayre during the previous weekend. Parents are generous with their time and with their donations. The children had thoroughly enjoyed the day. Throughout the year the PTA have hosted events such as a sponsored walk, quiz nights, bingo and discos. Instead of bringing a donation of money for their mufti-day, the children brought donations for the tombola!
Links with the Local Community
Discussions with parents showed that the school is becoming increasingly popular within the local community. It has good links with other local primary schools in order to share good practice. The Inclusion Leader attends meetings and courses run through the local SENCO cluster. The school building is used by many in the community for evening classes and adult clubs. Many of the early morning and after school clubs are run by local clubs and organisations providing links with the community. Grovelands participates in many local events including sporting fixtures and a local Christmas parade. Children learn about growing food and healthy eating at local allotments. The Inclusion Leader also works closely with outside agencies including, OT, EP, SALT, as well as taking support from a Nurture Group Network.
The Importance of Good Attendance
Good attendance is high on the agenda at Grovelands. A dedicated attendance coordinator works closely with the local authority EWO to target those families who are persistent absentees. The attendance coordinator discussed some case studies she had carried out on specific families, these detailed the steps taken within each stage. Certificates are given out regularly for 100% and improved attendance, with a class leader board on display in the office. Parents receive information on attendance regularly as part of the school newsletter.
Extra Support for Pupils
There are currently 81 pupils on the EAL register. The Inclusion Leader monitors their progress, which is above the average, closely. A pre-teaching project, run by teaching assistants is planned for September.
The school has a three-year plan to target its Pupil Premium (PP) pupils. The paperwork involves 9 pledges which include ensuring that the pupils: have access to the internet to complete homework tasks; are funded for trips up to £250 and that parents have support with the purchasing of school uniform. Strategies for support of PPG pupils include additional staff in the classroom, a phonics intervention, challenge activities for the more able, an Easter academics club and access to pastoral support in The Snug. A recent presentation to governors has showed an improvement in PP figures in all year groups.
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)
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