Howe Park School, Milton Keynes, has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Fully Inclusive School
Howe Park First School is a fully inclusive school for pupils from Nursery to Year Two. The school leadership team is committed to inclusion for all pupils.
The headteacher and leadership team have established a culture of high expectations for staff and pupils. There is a very good understanding of what the pupils need and the expertise to access additional funding or to set up tailored provision, when this is appropriate. The school budget is fully considered when making decisions to ensure that it is used effectively to improve teaching and learning for all pupils.
High Quality Training in Learning and Teaching
School staff work with their local cluster and other schools, to share training and initiatives. By working together and sharing costs the school has been able to access high quality training in learning and teaching from Mike Hughes and develop the ‘Magenta Principles’ within the school. Teachers report that this has resulted in their pedagogy being more focused on leading pupils though their learning as well as many other positive outcomes. The Headteacher’s lesson visits have shown that this has also resulted in a greater focus on high quality active learning in foundation subjects. This learning approach has been introduced and developed during the last two years. It will now continue to be embedded through collaborative peer coaching approaches, including using video as a tool for teachers to reflect on their own practice.
During the IQM assessment, pupils were observed fully engaged in learning in class and moving quietly and sensibly around the school. The regular assemblies help the children to follow the core values. The school values (Cooperation, Honesty, Kindness, Respect and Perseverance) are broken down into smaller steps so that the children really understand them. The current focus is ‘thoughtfulness’ and the school report that many parents take time to respond to the themes in the newsletter by letting the school know when their child shows these values at home. The school appreciates this communication and offers many opportunities for parents to be involved in the life of the school.
Pupils have many positive rewards, for example, there are regular certificates, such as the ‘Star of the Day’ which are proudly displayed on the classroom windows to share with parents and carers. Other certificates are awarded for ‘Star of the Week’– for example showing the school values, or for brilliant learning and these are celebrated in the special assemblies and in the weekly newsletters. As the school is fairly small, the teachers say they know the families well and often talk informally. There are also regular parents’ evenings, open afternoons, and meetings to discuss pupil progress. Parents are invited to Christmas concerts, the Big Sing and regular class assemblies. The Governors also recognise outstanding achievements through the presentation of their special awards. These include recognition for subjects such as musical achievement as well as for skills such as showing exceptional friendship. The website is informative and includes a weekly newsletter to keep families up to date.
Active Approach to Learning
The school has based the curriculum on the ‘Cornerstones’ model. The topics are introduced with a ‘launch pad event’ and this excites and engages the pupils, for example, a topic on London may be launched with a tea party for the Queen. The staff report that the children are enjoying their learning and the active approach means that they are learning more.
Different Strategies to Promote Engagement
The teachers have a toolkit of different strategies to use to engage the children, for example, Talk for Writing was seen and was used very effectively around the school. During the IQM visit the children in Year Two were fully engaged in their story and were enthusiastically using their Talk for Writing actions, in preparation for work on contractions.
In the Foundation Stage, a pupil was independently drawing their own ‘story map.’ The school use Read, Write, Inc to teach phonics and this is taught in conjunction with creative writing tasks to ensure a good mix of literacy skills. Most pupils have progressed well by the end of Year One and achieve the phonics test. For the minority who need further support there are individualised approaches to narrow the gap and to move the pupils forward.
The Maths Leader has been developing a calculation policy and has ensured that the ‘part, part, whole’ approach is used consistently. The leader has monitored classes and knows that there are challenges for the pupils. In Year One this looks like a ‘star challenge’ whilst in Year Two this is a ‘greater depth challenge.’ The Maths Leader reports that both have had a positive impact on the pupils learning. Recent monitoring has included the adaptations on the planning for individual pupils with additional needs.
The school has a School Council and the new members are being elected ready for next term. One project last year involved the children identifying areas in the playground where they felt safe. As a result, pupils in Year Two have had opportunities to be Active Playground Pals and help to take care of younger children on the playground.
Personalised and Relevant Topics
The PSHE units have been designed to ensure the topics are personalised and relevant to the needs of the school. Safeguarding, anti-bullying and e-safety are built into the topics to help pupils know how to stay safe.
Well-Planned Special Needs Provision
The provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and those who are disadvantaged is well-planned. As the coordinator said:
“We remove barriers for the pupils.”
There are many examples of pupils making significant progress, including pupils with complex speech and language needs. The SENDCO has the knowledge to access additional support for pupils, from specialist external partners, such as Speech Therapists, as well as internal expertise, for example, an internal initiative focuses on growing pupils’ self-confidence. The school have seen that the ‘Happy to be Me’ intervention is highly successful for many pupils, resulting in pupils playing and working well with other children. Pupils with English as an additional language receive pre-teaching interventions to enable them to access quality first teaching. Adults wear picture cues on lanyards to help non-verbal pupils to communicate their needs.
During the IQM visit the younger pupils were independently accessing iPads and using these confidently. There is a focus for all the FS pupils to grow in independence and to follow instructions within the setting, for example, collecting their own snack.
Within the classrooms, there are many examples of pupils with additional needs integrated successfully in to the class. The EY Leader explained that the sand tray, part of the continuous provision, is used to support a pupil with significant language needs to learn to play with sand appropriately, while other pupils use the same resource to carry out challenges at their own level. A flexible approach is applied to enable a child in the school to access the Nursery for a short time each day to meet their needs in a more play-orientated environment. The pupil’s vocabulary has already accelerated and other pupils are caring and friendly which has helped make a supportive environment for pupils with special educational needs to thrive.
The school environment is attractive with many large photographs showing the wide range of opportunities and experiences that the children are enjoying at school. There is a well-organised library, which is right at the heart of the school. All children are encouraged to read regularly at home. For those families who may find this unmanageable there is a reading club, held in the library, to ensure all pupils have the opportunity to read regularly to an adult. This is one example of how the school successfully ensures all pupils have equal opportunities and feel included and happy at school.
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)
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.