Honilands is a large Primary School in Enfield which has held the Inclusive School Award since 2011.
During my 2017 review day at Honilands Primary School I followed a full timetable of learning walks in and around the building, visiting classroom lessons, small group activities, the nursery, the special provision for children on the autistic spectrum, the specialist class for children who have severe difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour, and the school nurture group. Everywhere I went I was aware of children who were happily engaged in learning, at their own level, with teaching methods relating to their learning and social needs.
The Nurture Group
I joined the nurture group at the dining table for their mid-morning snack and was welcomed warmly by staff and curious young people who offered me toast, fruit and a drink and who entertained me with interesting conversation and information about what they had been learning.
They included me in their group. I observed the sensitive ways in which staff managed the needs of autistic children who were understandably less than comfortable being observed by a stranger. I spoke to some very confident children who were able to tell me how positive they felt about their school experiences.
Partnerships with Parents
On the day of my IQM visit I had conversations with parents who described a range of concerns that had been effectively addressed at Honilands Primary School, concerns relating to their children as individuals. One parent had wanted to ensure that her able child would be “exposed to a lot of things, and not just academics”, she was thrilled to be able to tell me that at this school the creative curriculum is an absolute reality. Another parent was keen to tell me how pleased she had been to find that her child was “treated as an individual … As a parent, the teacher consultations helped a lot. It was all related to my child”. The staff member most involved with the recent Parent Partnership Award proudly described “the triangle of school, child, and parents, where the child is the most important part of a school and at the heart of the community”.
An Inclusive Ethos
During my meetings with the Head Teacher, the Inclusion Lead and members of the governing body, I could see clearly that the inclusive ethos at Honilands Primary School really does continue to come from the senior leaders. One governor told me: “When you focus on a child’s needs, the labels don’t really matter.
The Chair is militant about the school being inclusive. He says that he wants the school to be in a community that caters for everyone”. A member of the senior leadership team told me: “I go into the nurture group and see children eating toast, all together … This is the moral purpose. It’s why we’re teaching”.
Meeting the Needs of All Children
The Head Teacher Ralph Silverman is an inspirational professional and it is his vision that has directed Honilands Primary School as an Inclusion Quality Mark Flagship School. Ralph is clear that at his school inclusion is not just about special educational needs, nor just about the multi-cultural and multi-faith local community: “The curriculum leaders ensure that we provide for the needs of all children”. The Deputy Head and SENCo explained more: One child who is working at greater depth – she doesn’t have a disability, but she does have needs … There are children we struggle with, but we don’t reject them. This is at our core”.
Providing Professional Support to Other Schools
The practice of an inclusive philosophy extends much further than the boundaries of Honilands Primary School. The school is associated with other local schools in terms of the provision of on-going professional support and for many years the Head Teacher has been a member of the Forest Independent Collegiate (FIPC), a group of twenty-six associated schools in North London. Ralph is the voice of inclusion at FIPC in terms of the initial training of teachers, and so his sphere of influence extends much further than is the norm.
As in previous years, I enjoyed my day at Honilands Primary School enormously. This is an educational establishment where people work very hard indeed to make inclusive education look easy. My thanks go to Head Teacher Ralph who gave me so much of his time, to IQM Co-Ordinator, Inclusion Lead and Deputy Head Teacher Patsy, who organised my day and chaperoned me so thoughtfully, and thank you to members of the governing and staff bodies, and to the children and parents I met during my review day. Everyone made me feel very welcome indeed.
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