Holy Family Catholic Primary, Witham in Essex has achieved the Inclusive School Award for the second time.
An Excellent Example of Inclusive Practice
Holy Family Catholic Primary School is an excellent example of inclusive practice. Inclusion permeates all aspects of the school’s work and there are good links with the governors and community to offer support for families. The Headteacher demonstrates strong, no-nonsense leadership and works effectively with her Inclusion Manager and the Governing Body to ensure that all staff have similar aspirations for children at the school.
Children Make Excellent Progress
Children make excellent progress from low starting points. Attainment at the end of KS1 and KS2 is outstanding. The Inclusion Leader supports teachers by providing good provision mapping and a regular review of interventions to ensure that they are appropriate. There is good liaison with LSAs and other adults who are closely involved in the learning process. Everyone is involved in developing the school’s Catholic ethos and inclusion is a crucial element of all the school policies. The school encourages all children to have respect for each individual, to develop a closer relationship with each other and through this a closer relationship with God. The school’s vision statement is: ‘In our Catholic School, with God at the centre of our lives, we offer every child a high standard of education. We meet individual needs in a caring and loving community, which celebrates our faith’. Not all children in the school are Catholic, but this ‘caring and loving attitude’ permeates all that the school does for all children.
Relationships are Excellent
Relationships between staff are excellent and pupils feel cared for and supported in their learning with teachers and LSAs understanding their pupils’ needs. Children enjoy their time in school and consequently attendance is good. Disadvantaged children achieve well, and the school uses its Pupil Premium funding to good effect. The work of the Inclusion Leader ensures that parents and staff are well informed of the inclusion agenda.
High Quality Displays
There is a high quality and consistency of display in classrooms and shared areas which shows a balance between celebrating children’s work and providing a focus for learning. Displays in corridors included Moses and the Parting of the Sea, Thinking of Others at Christmas and Jonah and the Whale. The Dream Tree in the hall focuses on every child’s aspirations for the future. The tree is accompanied by inspirational statements such as ‘Commit your work to the Lord then it will succeed’ and ‘Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically’. A Christmas mass for the whole school took place on the day of the assessment in the school hall for parents and children. This mass was planned for the local Catholic Church, but had been rearranged because of bad weather. Children spoke fondly of the service and the same feeling of togetherness, so very apparent all around the school, obviously stemming from such services and celebration. The outdoor learning environment is spacious and offers children opportunities to develop aspects of sport and learning through play. Markings on the playground and statements around the play area together with access to small and large play equipment ensures children are occupied in a constructive way. The awnings to provide protection from the sun and the seated areas for a quiet chat ensure all aspects of outdoor play are addressed. To further develop the wildlife area will be an additional benefit for the children. Play Leaders were keen to show the assessor the range of equipment available at lunchtime. The EYFS outdoor environment is also well set out and provides an exciting learning environment in all weathers. The welcoming reception area gives parents and visitors a good first impression of the school and the office staff present a friendly reassuring face to parents and visitors. The school has a wide range of digital resources, a computer suite and sets of laptops and iPads for use in class.
Opportunities to take Responsibility
The work ethic of the children, their good behaviour, friendliness and politeness impacts on their engagement with school work and there are many ways in which children are given opportunities to take responsibility for their learning. The Eco-Council, School Council, Worship Council, Play Leaders, Head Boy and Head Girl provide children with many opportunities to take on responsibilities, influence their school environment and develop independence. The School Council takes pride in its work to improve attitudes and equipment in the school and the children demonstrate maturity in articulating their ideas. They have raised money for a number of charities including Children in Need, Comic Relief and a local food bank. The Head Boy and Head Girl were mature and proud when discussing their school with the assessor. Children also have access to a wide range of extra-curricular clubs which extend the curriculum and for which they show their gratitude. Mindfulness sessions and a focus on relaxation and wellbeing for children ensures children understand the relationships with others and themselves. ‘Who is in the zone?’ displays in each class give children opportunities to tell one of their class that they are fantastic. In one of the year 6 classes children were receiving the results of their mock tests with all the names and scores being read out to the whole group. No matter whether the scores were at the top of the class or slightly lower than others there was a round of applause and excitement for each other.
Varied Use of Resources
There is a varied use of resources to provide a practical approach to learning and monitoring procedures are rigorous which ensures that lessons are sufficiently challenging and consistent in approach. These monitoring procedures and the detailed tracking of pupil progress data ensure that pupils’ personal needs are met. Performance management procedures are good with objectives stemming from the school improvement plan to support high attainment and progress. Teaching and learning is good or outstanding. The assessor observed excellent examples of self-evaluation, challenge for the more able, response time in marking, children supporting each other, children setting their own targets, paired work, LSAs involved in the learning and working walls. The focus on quality first teaching is to remain a focus for the future. There was generally a calm working atmosphere at a time of year when children could be forgiven for having their minds on other things!
Excellent Work with Families
Excellent work is carried out with families, pupils and the community generally to ensure that children are cared for and valued. The termly forum meetings ensure parents have a voice. There are good communication systems which give parents and carers confidence in the school and in its support for their child’s needs. Email, texting, newsletters and parent consultations as well as one to one conversations keep parents regularly informed about their child’s education and needs. One parent said, ‘I cannot express enough how much this school has done for my boy.’ Another stated, ‘It is a warm and safe place.’ Parents commented on how accommodating the school tried to be. They also mentioned the good induction and transition arrangements with other schools which reassured them. The lady in reception had a particular mention for ‘her thoughtfulness and kindness, no matter how serious the situation.’ The school intends to run more parent workshops to keep parents better informed in how to support their children at home.
Expertise on the Governing Body
There is a wide range of expertise on the governing body. They have carried out a skills’ audit which ensures all areas are covered. They are well led and their commitment to the inclusive ethos is evident in discussions. They attend the school regularly and have a consistent monitoring timetable related to the school improvement plan. They have recently achieved the Essex Governance Quality Mark and they have spent much time recently ensuring that they are more visible to teachers and parents. They are fully supportive of the school’s inclusive agenda. The close links with a range of external agencies to support vulnerable families and the sign posting of families to groups which can address their needs is given much attention by staff and governors.
Strong Links with the Catholic Church
The school has naturally strong links with the local Catholic Church which encourages respect and a deep understanding of Catholicism, but it also focuses on other faiths which offers children a broad and balanced view of the world. There are good links with the schools in the Mid-Essex Deanery and with local schools in Witham and the surrounding areas. The school is intending to establish a Witham Collaboration Group and a cluster group for Inclusion Managers across the MID-Essex Deanery. Visitors from the local community services and organisations enhance children’s understanding of their locality and support their learning. Good use is also made of the local area, library and services to extend the curriculum. The school participates in a range of local religious events, fetes and social occasions. The Headteacher is a member of the local parish council. The Friends of Holy Family School involve the local community in a range of activities both social and fundraising and have an excellent record in supporting the school. There is good support for local and national charities and an involvement of the children in raising funds for children less fortunate than themselves. The school has the Gold Sports Award and is an Attachment Aware School.
High Quality of Evaluation Exists
The Self Evaluation Report reflects the high quality of evaluation that exists in the school. It is comprehensive and reflects the school as seen by the assessor. Holy Family Catholic School 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. It is an outstanding, caring environment for pupils where high expectations have a huge impact on attainment, progress and wellbeing.
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