Immanuel and St Andrew Primary School in Lambeth has achieved Centre of Excellence status.
Immanuel and St Andrew Church of England is a larger than average-sized, two-form entry primary school in Streatham with 437 pupils on roll. Pupils, staff and parents are extremely proud of the inclusive nature of the school and the warm welcome is felt keenly on arrival. It was an absolute pleasure to spend 2 days with the staff and pupils. The school is situated in a multicultural area of south London and is part of the Diocese of Southwark. Pupils come from a wide range of minority ethnic backgrounds. The biggest groups are White British, Other White, Black Caribbean and Black African. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is well above average; 70% of children speak an additional language here and there are 50 EAL pupils out of 60 in Y4 alone.
“One World Week”
I was extremely lucky that my visit coincided with the school’s celebration of “One World Week” linked to Black History Month. The whole school put on an afternoon performance showcasing the river each class is named after, from around the world. There were poems, songs, dances and information about the rivers, performed by all of the children. It was extremely well attended by parents, Governors and the Director of Education from Southwark also came to support the school. It was a very uplifting and joyful afternoon and was a brilliant way for parents to see their children’s learning in action. One grandparent told the Headteacher;
“It’s the best day I’ve had this year.”
The school is twinned to a school in Tanzania through the Global Learning Project and the school have been fund raising to buy resources for them. Two members of staff were flying out that week to deliver the resources and teach in the school. Later on in the year, staff from the school in Tanzania will come back to teach at Immanuel and St Andrew.
Inclusion is Interwoven
The school motto “Excellence for all, Excellence from all” is highly visible around the school and cements the school’s commitment and celebration of everyone’s uniqueness. Faith and Christian values underpin school life and all religions and beliefs are embraced and welcomed into a supportive environment. Inclusion is woven into the fabric of the school community and the drive for breaking down barriers to learning through a personalised approach, is evident throughout the school. Staff work hard to raise the aspiration of all of the children.
The strong leadership from the inspirational Headteacher, Bronia Grehan and dedicated Assistant Headteacher who is the Inclusion Lead, Hollie Appleton, empowers the staff to work hard to respond to the individual needs of the children. The inclusion team (made up of the Assistant Head, SENCO, HTLA in charge of EAL and the Inclusion Governors Committee), work closely to ensure their policies and practice have a meaningful impact on the children. The Director for Education for Southwark was also in school the day of the assessment and he told me
“The character of the school is reflected in the Headteacher,”
during the 2 day visit this proved to be vibrant, confident and an endless supply of positivity. I felt the school character was “There are no problems, only solutions.”
High Staff Morale
Staff morale is high and excellent relationships are evident throughout the school. Many staff have been at the school for over 20 years and have developed their roles significantly. Staff are highly valued and feel highly valued. They are seen as an integral reason why barriers to learning can be successfully removed. They are driven by their passion to develop pupils’ potential, as well as continuously developing their own knowledge and expertise, in order to be better equipped to meet the diverse needs of all pupils. The SENCO, Lindsey Snook, joined the school in September 2019 but has already made a huge impact. She has listened to the staff and in order to address their concerns and raise their knowledge of different areas of SEN, has introduced an A-Z SEN information page onto the staff drive that all staff can access, anytime. This holds information on a range of needs and offers practical strategies on how to support this in the classroom. It was discussed that this could be developed further with the SENCO offering short ‘pop-up’ training through the year focussing on one of the letters from the A-Z page. The SENCO was also keen to incorporate a “SEN resource of the week” idea, which could be introduced at a staff briefing on a Monday morning.
Meeting Children’s Individual Needs
Aisha Lone, HLTA and EAL Lead is another example of how her role has grown in response to the children’s need. Aisha has worked closely with and delivered training with the Local Authority EAL Lead and in turn has delivered training to school staff on practical ways they can support their EAL children in class. However, it is stressed by Aisha, that the strategies will work for all children and are therefore good practice, not just those who are EAL. Aisha has also placed strategies and resources on the staff drive for easy access. There is a tiered approach with high need accessing 1 to 1 from Aisha and the staff training helping a whole class approach. It was discussed that it was a big role for one person and the inclusion team had acknowledged this. There are plans in place to train up more support staff to help fill the gap in the tier, where small group work is beneficial and necessary.
Confident Articulate Pupils
Pupils are confident, articulate and the behaviour around the school is excellent. When asked what they liked about the school, comments included,
“I love this school it’s so fun, the teachers are kind,”
“The school values are part of our learning”
“We have good connections with our teachers” and
“We are a friendly school.”
Pupils feel safe, heard and included and are encouraged to do their best, regardless of ability, family structure, social background, ethnicity or gender. They have opportunities to take on roles of responsibility through being a member of the school council, chaplaincy team, school ambassadors, eco warrior club, peer mediators and playground buddies.
Pupils Make Outstanding Progress
Pupils make outstanding progress from their personal starting point. Achievement is a combination of pupil attainment and progress. By the end of both key stages, the attainment of all pupils are consistently above national average values and pupils make very good relative progress.
A Rich, Varied and Creative Curriculum
To support the inclusive ethos, pupils are offered a rich, varied and creative curriculum, which caters for all learning styles. The physical environment is also looked at to monitor that all children can access all areas of the school. There are quiet zones and an award winning Peace garden that all children can use. The new addition of a sensory corridor – an interactive floor trail to support those pupils who may need a movement break throughout the day, has been a hit. I saw many children using the trail throughout the 2 days I was in school. The concrete sports pitch is going to be developed into a MUGA (multi use games area) following fund raising by the PTA. The school has professional gardeners who come into school and work with the children and the outdoor learning areas are beautifully maintained. A sensory room is to be developed which will also be a flexible space for quiet times, nurture room and other interventions.
Progress is Rigorously Monitored
Progress is rigorously monitored and individual targets set. A thorough tracking system ensure that pupils who are not progressing are targeted for interventions where needed. Regular Pupil Progress meetings are affective in ensuring that action is taken to support any pupils who are underachieving. The SENCO and Parent Liaison Lead have daily short catch ups and meet as a full Inclusion team fortnightly. Interventions are reviewed regularly to monitor effectiveness and progress.
Children were Fully Engaged
Classrooms are tidy and well organised and children were fully engaged in their learning. Displays are good and informative which reflects the achievement and abilities of all pupils and there are a wide range of well-organised and stimulating resources. SLT have produced a “What does Quality First Teaching look like in the classroom?” checklist for teachers which was extremely impressive for its inclusive nature. All classrooms have ear defenders, wobble cushions, a sensory box which have fidget and fiddle resources, available to all pupils who need them. School has adopted an achievement scheme called: “Recognising the Love of Learning”. There are different behaviours for learning for the children to show and they are rewarded with a lanyard once they have achieved it. These include: “ Perseverance and Determination” “Resourcefulness and Readiness” “Collaboration and Co-operation” and ‘Zeal And Effort.” These go towards a star system where metal badges can be earnt. The children all loved this scheme and many of them proudly showed me their jumpers already adorned with several badges.
Excellent Emotional and Educational Support
Emotional and educational support for pupils is excellent. The well-being lead, Caroline Ridley has big plans to develop it further. She wants well-being in the school to be tangible and not just a “buzz word” or following the latest trend. She is fully committed to embed the well-being of the whole school community; pupils and staff, into the everyday running of the school. The values of the school (some of them being, hope, forgiveness, kindness, trust, joy, courage) link into everything the school community do and Caroline will be integral in making sure well-being threads through into all policies. She has recently attended training with Andy Buck, a renowned coaching expert, uses the well-being Toolkit and will be attending the conference soon. The school has good links with Southfields School who are known for their good mental health practice in the borough and ELSA trained TAs are keen to go out and see other settings. The school also buy in ConnectEd and have access to a weekly counsellor who can see 6 children one to one for the entire academic year. They also have a bereavement and loss service, Rainbows, starting in school and were looking forward to their training soon. During my visit, a group of KS2 pupils who were identified as Pupil Premium, had access to a film crew for the day to make a film about their school for the new website. The film crew came into school once a year to work with a targeted group of children.
Supporting and Promoting Inclusion
The Governing Body is actively involved in school life and supports and promotes inclusion within school. The Chair of Governors told me how impressed he is with the pupils here and comes in regularly to see them, carrying out learning walks. The Governors had high praise for the progress those more vulnerable groups are making and the amount of work that has gone into supporting EAL pupils and closing the gap for the Pupil Premium pupils. They had also seen how staff are stretching and challenging those more able pupils. Governors have attended training and proudly received the Bishops Certificate in Church School Governance. They hold high aspirations and expectations for all pupils.
Fostering Close Relationships with Parents
The school continues to foster close relationships with parents and carers and know the families and pupils well. The school is heavily oversubscribed, reflecting the good reputation and strong relationship it has within the local community. The school continues to develop their parental engagement and with the appointment of a new chair of the PTA (FISA), there is confidence that this will go from strength to strength as she has an abundance of ideas how to raise money for the school but also events to bring the parents in to celebrate the children’s learning. Parents spoke very highly of the school and are very appreciative of the support that is provided for their children and feel confident that the staff team know and understand their children well, recognising their abilities and needs and catering well for their individuality. Comments from parents included,
“The school are with me every step of the way”
“They respond to his needs so well, it’s just what they do.”
Hayley Curran, the Parent Liaison Lead, works closely with all parents and especially those hard to reach parents. She runs parent workshops and is a mental health first aider. Her aim is to continue to build on parental engagement through links with the school nurse and relevant topics of interest. The two days were managed efficiently and effectively by Hollie Appleton, Assistant Headteacher, who was very welcoming, and clearly loved the school, calling it her “second family”.
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