Hamstel Infant School and Nursery in Southend-on-Sea has achieved Flagship status.
Hamstel Infant and Nursery School is larger than the average-sized Infant school. It has grown to a five-form entry school in a short space of time requiring a continual upgrade of the school building which has been well managed. The Early Years Foundation Stage provision includes a Nursery that caters for 104 three to four-year-old places. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is higher than average. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils is also above average. The school is a member of the Portico Multi-Academy Trust and its special motto is ‘We Care…’ This is fundamental to everything the school does.
Children are Valued as Individuals
The school continues to provide an excellent environment for all learners. Children are valued as individuals within a caring atmosphere and there is a celebration of children’s individuality in order that they feel understood. Teachers and TAs know their pupils well and have an excellent rapport with their children. The role of the additional adults in supporting learning and supporting individual children cannot be underestimated. There is a consistent approach to behaviour management which is understood by everyone. The excellent behaviour, attitudes and work ethic of the children in both formal and informal settings enhances the learning that children can access in all subjects.
Children have Every Opportunity to Succeed
The quality of display and the care and attention to the learning environment in general and the range and accessibility of resources ensure children have every opportunity to succeed. Displays have a consistency and balance between the celebration of children’s work and a focus for learning both in classrooms and shared areas. At the time of the assessment Remembrance Day displays were prominent in the school and in the outdoor learning area. Children were given a reminder of the school’s World War 1 history and were able to articulate the meaning of the celebrations. In the Headteacher’s office a striking family history display of Victorian artefacts was to be viewed by each class in turn. This reinforced the school’s heritage and gave children an excellent understanding of life in Victorian times. This message was reinforced in the outdoor learning environment where children were making their own Victorian stew containing only vegetables which they peeled safely themselves, prepared and cooked over an open fire. And delicious it was too!
The Importance of the School in the Community
Other children used paper cups on a string to talk to one another in their research of Alexander Graham Bell, the Victorian inventor of the telephone – practical, first hand learning which will stay with the children for many years to come. The Headteacher has calculated that 70,000 children have been educated at the school since it first opened 27 days after WW1 ended demonstrating the importance of the school in the community.
Ensuring Children Make Progress
Regular pupil progress meetings review interventions and ensure that children make the progress that is expected of them. Children make good progress from low starting points. The school works well with families to ensure children have the best opportunities to succeed. Teachers know their pupils well and assessment is good. Weekly inclusion and base meetings ensure that all children have their needs met. The Inclusion Team is large and team members support each other admirably to the benefit of all the children in the school. The staff ensure that learning is creative and the celebration of success ensures children enjoy school and, consequently, absence is reducing. The assessor was fortunate enough to be invited to a weekly Inclusion Meeting where 7 members of the Inclusion Team discussed the referral forms from teachers who had concerns about specific children. The sharing of expertise and knowledge of family life relating to the children concerned and the actions to follow was extraordinary. These children were all discussed with sensitivity and concern with a follow up which would be immediately implemented. The family knowledge provided by members of the group provided an insight into the issues and was significant in arriving at solutions to the difficulties faced by these children. The referral forms are crucial in addressing issues faced by children in a practical and timely fashion. This meeting epitomised the inclusive and caring approach of all adults in the school. Interviews with two parents reinforced this message. The parents spoke highly of the school and the way in which it communicates with them and how their children were progressing.
Excellent Support and Advice
A new member of staff, an NQT, spoke of the support she received from all staff. She enjoys the range of activities and excellent advice she receives together with a wide range of training to address the needs of a fully inclusive school. The referral forms, the precision and behaviour management training and the support from the SENCO were all mentioned as helping to provide a new member of staff with a good start to her career.
A Good Reputation in the Local Community
The Nursery lead practitioner was a key member of the Inclusion Meeting. Her knowledge of families was crucial in understanding children’s home circumstances. Home visits are a crucial part of this understanding of family life. The Nursery has a waiting list and a good reputation in the local area. It works closely with the main school. Children join in the breakfast club and the after-school club where older children support the younger ones. There is a good link with the EYFS planning and ensuring children take part in activities in the main school and in the outdoor learning environment so that children are ready for life in the Infant school.
The Importance of Support and Wellbeing
Staff are well supported and their wellbeing is addressed on a regular basis. They have a wellbeing staff member to whom they can confide at any time and supervision times offer further opportunities to ensure that they can stay grounded when faced with difficult children. A TA commented that ‘It is nice to know that you are being looked after’ and that the Leadership Team is ‘very supportive’.
Children are Fully Supported
The leadership of the Headteacher and the SLT ensures that all children are fully supported to achieve their full potential and they set the framework in which all the work in the school takes place. All the teaching and non-teaching staff ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’. They are recruited for their compassion and willingness to work for the school’s inclusive agenda. Consequently, everyone works closely as a team for the good of all 500 children in the Nursery and Infant School.
A Fully Functional Sensory Room
The sensory room is now fully functional providing an excellent relaxed environment for children who need some space.
The Wildlife Area is an Amazing Resource
The wildlife area continues to be an amazing resource. Children learn to be safe and secure around fires and sharp instruments and the links with whole class planning ensures that experiences in this environment will be remembered and will stand the children in good stead for the future.
A School Committed to Inclusive Practice
Hamstel Infant School and Nursery is an example of a school committed to meet the needs of its children and is outstanding in its commitment to, and implementation of, inclusive practice.
Enthusiasm of Staff for the Inclusion Agenda
The Inclusion team has a clear commitment to inclusion and supports staff well. Adults within the school subscribe to the enthusiasm for the inclusion agenda and staff are kept well informed about the IQM process. Good progress has been made on all targets since the last COE assessment.
Moving from Strength to Strength
The Headteacher is a driving force within the school and has appointed staff who meet the needs of the school. The SENCO has been supported well by the Inclusion team. The school consequently moves from strength to strength.
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