Irk Valley Community School, Lower Crumpsall in Manchester, has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
Irk Valley Community School is a larger than average, inner-city primary school with 472 pupils on roll. There are also a further 52 Nursery children who attend either a morning or afternoon session. It is an incredibly diverse school community, with 75% of pupils that have English as an additional language and 34 languages currently listed as the first languages of pupils in the school. Over 31% of pupils are in receipt of free school meals, higher than the national average. However, it quickly becomes evident that Irk Valley Community School is an inspiring school with a drive for breaking down barriers to learning throughout the school through a personalised approach, this being achieved by strong leadership.
The school holds a number of awards such as the UNICEF Rights Respecting School, One Education Reading Award, LPPA and has held the IQM Inclusive School Award since 2017. Irk Valley’s success is because any action by the Leadership Team is pragmatically planned and scaffolded to ensure success. Their aspirations are embodied in the school motto of ‘REACH’ and are shared by Governors, staff and wider stakeholders. Pupil’s ‘REACH’ to be the very best that they can be in a culture which promotes respect, excellence, aspiration, cooperation and happiness. Systems are securely embedded and there is profound intellectual and pragmatic capability demonstrated in everything that the school undertakes. Everyone within the school endeavours to reach for ‘world class’ comparatives, wants to see boundaries spanned and all barriers diminished. It is certainly a team that shared how they have a ‘fusion of strengths which are used to celebrate diversity and drive forward any developments we identify.’
Confidence of All Stakeholders
Irk Valley Community School is not just a school, it is a whole community, a place where one aims to fix all. One strength to mention is the way that the huge team is both welcoming and friendly and works together to celebrate individualism. Staff spoken with, are all passionate about their roles within the school and felt that they had the encouragement and support to develop different aspects of the school in order to promote inclusion to its full. They comment that it is a place, where whatever the problem may be for any individual they will endeavour to ‘make things better.’ For example, the school staff that work tirelessly to ensure that there is an ease of communication with parents are well thought of. Parents are extremely positive about the school and many comment how the school “makes them feel safe, provides what they need to feel safe, both with them and when they are outside the building.” Due to this strong trusting relationship, many parents volunteer within the school and then go on to take qualifications and work within the school. Irk Valley Community School are growing their own staff to ensure the community is well represented and supported.
Governors and leaders recognise the diversity within their school and have embraced this. Their approach to learning about holistic children and their experiences encourages critical examination of all barriers they may have to learn and builds an awareness of the impact that the professionals working in their school can have on them. Staff talked about how they appreciate the continual professional developments opportunities that they have and the opportunities to work with other colleagues and share expertise, there is a culture of high expectations, and professionals feel supported and challenged. Learning activities are carefully planned to meet the needs of all the pupils and provide appropriate levels of challenge. Pupils can use and apply their knowledge and skills in all subjects and the adult support use questions skillfully to deepen pupils’ understanding and extend their vocabulary, particularly in reading. As a team, there is a correct identification that the school needs to build on the successful changes made to the way that language acquisition is key to improving the progress that pupils make. Following the pandemic, there is an acknowledgement of the need to accelerate progress during the early years of learning and in particular, being able to support the pupils who speak English as an additional language, this is well planned for moving forward.
Pupil Voice Encouraged and Heard
At Irk Valley Community School pupils are polite and courteous. There are strong relationships in school. The adults support for pupils’ personal development and the many strategies and tools they have in place to promote the wellbeing, resilience, safety, and positive attitudes of children is one to be proud of. Safeguarding and attendance monitoring procedures are rigorous and well understood by staff, parents, and pupils alike. The impressive ‘REACH’ values for both staff and children capture the behavioural expectations and ethos, stakeholders could clearly explain its meaning. They are motivated to follow the school’s values and as a result, behaviour around the school is excellent and the school environment is calm. This school has achieved the Silver UNICEF Rights Responding School, which demonstrates its commitment to the wellbeing of listening and responding to pupils and staff. Passionate staff understand the rationale of allowing their pupils to speak about what’s on their minds, understanding that this will allow them to manage emotional situations better. There is a strong emphasis on developing pupil’s knowledge and understanding of friendships, stress, kindness, and respect to all. Well planned lessons and taught learning strategies to support independence and resilience contributing to nurturing emotionally secure and resilient pupils.
High Aspirations for All
The school has great diversity amongst staff and pupils which subsequently allows all to grow and learn alongside those with needs and disabilities, showing them kindness, empathy, and friendship. All staff display high aspirations for all pupils and are motivated to help them achieve positive outcomes. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about the way in which teachers make learning fun and interesting by making it relevant to them. Pupils are proud of their work and were eager to share with the assessor, one pupil said,
“The best thing about Irk Valley School is that we have fun.”
It is clear that there is an ethos of understanding pupils’ needs and an understanding that adults are there to facilitate learning allowing them to do their best and be the best they can be.
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: email@example.com for further details.
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