Homerswood Primary and Nursery in Hertfordshire has achieved Centre of Excellence status.
A Friendly Welcome
As the Homerswood assessor for the Inclusion Quality Mark in 2017 I really enjoyed my day at the school. This was my first visit, from the moment I was greeted by the friendly receptionist, I was made to feel very welcome indeed. During the day, I was able to tour the school observing classrooms and interventions and speaking to staff members from all areas, I really felt that everyone I spoke to would be able to support the head teacher’s intention to provide a basis for inclusive education ‘from pre-school to secondary school, that is strong all the way through.’
Inclusion for All
My first formal conversation was with the governor for inclusion. She was so knowledgeable and interested in everything that the senior leadership team and staff body do, that she was able to clearly demonstrate to me that the inclusive ethos of the school is set at the highest level: “We also need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the children who don’t have special needs or special talents. We do arts and sciences, music and sports. There is a real community feel here. We observe all the different festivals and faith days. We have lots of things going on in the school and we encourage children to bring and share.”
Highly Inclusive Educational Environment
During my visit to Homerswood I could see that the school and nursery are highly inclusive educational environments within a socially diverse area of Hertfordshire. Careful planning and methodical monitoring mean that individual children can be catered for on an individual basis, because of this the atmosphere is happy and productive. The head teacher is clear that in her view the most important part of teaching and learning is giving children a curriculum that meets their needs, keeping them interested and motivated to succeed. She is passionate about her staff, describing these colleagues as ‘outstanding’, and she is committed to providing them with the structures that enable them to think creatively about individual needs.
Parents could tell me that their children enjoy coming to school, that they too are welcomed in to share the experiences of their sons and daughters, and they have confidence that any future difficulties will be resolved without undue drama. One parent told me: “It’s not only that things have been put in place, but it’s that kind of setting as well. There’s a whole-school ethos with assemblies about disabilities. The ethos is inclusive and welcoming, for parents too.” Another parent was able to talk about her child’s medical needs and about how the whole family has been supported by staff at Homerswood. “Coming to this school was the best decision ever, ever! My child has been nurtured and loved, the needs change monthly and weekly, they’ve never been teased. The school is very accommodating and it makes things easy. They tell me not to stress about it.”
The Thread of Inclusion
Whatever one is talking to a staff member about, the thread of ‘inclusion’ runs through everything; empowering individual professionals, hearing the child’s voice, supporting choice, developing independence, taking a leadership role and facilitating access, whether it’s access to the school building, the curriculum, or the school community.
Thank You to the School
I am grateful to everyone I met during the assessment day, and especially to Maxine Wilson who coordinated my visit and who undertook all the pre-planning with such care. It is impossible to include a comment about every area observed and every intervention discussed, but I hope that the children, parents and professionals I met during my visit will understand that each of them contributed to a very positive IQM assessment outcome.
A Successful Assessment
There are no areas requiring development before the Inclusion Quality Mark can be awarded, however within the body of this report some simple suggestions have been made for one or two interesting resources seen elsewhere, that the school might like to consider. I am of the opinion that Homerswood Primary and Nursery School fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark, and that in recognition of their work in disseminating the inclusive philosophy to other schools, they should consider applying for IQM Centre of Excellence status.
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