John Bunyan Primary School and Nursery in Essex achieves the Inclusive School Award.
A Strong Vision of Inclusion
John Bunyan Primary School and Nursery is a very inclusive school. The Headteacher has a strong vision of inclusion within a broad and balanced creative curriculum and she has worked effectively with the Governing Body to ensure that all staff have similar aspirations for children at the school. There is a commitment and high expectation of all staff to ensure that children have a positive learning experience. The school’s Ofsted inspection in March 2018 stated that ‘This is an inclusive school, where the high-quality care and nurturing environment support pupils extremely well’. The Assessor can confirm that this continues to be the case. The Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team provide a strong lead on inclusion and the Inclusion Leader provides clear, well defined procedures on inclusion for all staff.
Children make good progress from low starting points. This is a large primary school which serves a mixed community with most pupils living close to the school in an area of mainly local authority or housing association accommodation, some of which is owner occupied. The percentage of pupils receiving free school meals is above average and 41% of the pupils are currently in receipt of the Pupil Premium Grant. Most children start school with standards well below national. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is above average at 20%. Most pupils come from White British backgrounds, but there is a steadily increasing number of children who join the school at the early stages of learning to speak English (10% overall).
The Learning Environment
The amalgamation of the Junior and Infant schools into one primary school has gone extremely well. The building work which has linked the two buildings, providing a large shared staff room, extensive library and studio has provided the finishing touches to a very successful amalgamation. The building work has been instrumental in ensuring that the staff and pupils see the school as a Primary School. The quality of display throughout the school is very high. The John Bunyan Art Gallery with its framed artwork and the displays celebrating the progression from Y1 to Y6 in science, history and writing are particularly noteworthy. Displays such as the 3 Little Pigs, Super Heroes, Dragons, Maths Eyes and Five have Fun with Learning not only engage the children, but demonstrate a consistency and attention to detail which reflects all the school’s work. The welcoming staff in the school reception area set the tone for visitors and parents. They greet everyone with a smile. One parent said, ’The Office staff know us – everyone has a smile on their face.’ The well-designed Nursery and EYFS outdoor environments encourage free flow and teacher directed and child-initiated activities, whilst the playgrounds have a range of apparatus to encourage children to play creatively. The new Astroturf area will be particularly useful when it is completed. Children who have difficulty with the larger playground space are encouraged to play in the well set out Comfort Garden where they can take part in a range of quieter activities surrounded by raised beds of fruit and vegetables cultivated by each year group. Also, at lunchtime the Art Room is used for children of a similar disposition. A teacher provides excellent art opportunities for children to work in small groups. At the time of the assessment block printing was the theme. The school has a wide range of resources to suit individual needs including watches that monitor heart rates and steps, a wide range of musical instruments and iPads and laptops for each year group to support the computing curriculum.
Code of Conduct
The code of conduct (Be Caring, Be Fair, Be Respectful, Make Great Choices) can be found in every classroom and is articulated by the children from an early age. The Learning Champions speak clearly about their work in class and behaviour expectations are reinforced by all staff and consequently children respond well. Ofsted stated, ‘Staff make their expectations about how to behave very clear. All are expected to follow the school’s code of conduct. Pupils take this on board and treat each other kindly. When pupils do make mistakes, staff help them to manage their behaviour and develop self-discipline.’
Pupil Premium Funding
There is good provision mapping and the effective targeting of the pupil premium funding ensures children with disabilities and special needs are given every opportunity to succeed.
Constantly Reviewing Provision
Good tracking procedures and related Phase Achievement Meetings constantly review provision for all pupils. Teachers work very effectively in teams and support one another admirably.
Learning is Fun
Children feel that learning is fun and are well motivated. They make good progress through the school from low starting points. Attainment is improving with KS1 and KS2 outcomes being roughly in line with national averages. There are good systems in place to improve the quality of children’s learning and the school continues to make every effort to improve attainment in maths, reading and writing. The Mercury Theatre Group from Colchester works with the children to build their resilience and to enhance their confidence. Activities such as drama, sport and music have a high profile and the celebration of success ensures that children enjoy school. There is a wide selection of over 20 extra-curricular clubs available during the week and children are encouraged termly to try a different club. The PE provision is excellent with every child having the opportunity to take part in competitive or non-competitive sports and competitions. The Green Team speaks confidently about a better environment and has worked effectively to change attitudes in the school and the breakfast club offers parents the facility to drop off their children early in a safe and secure environment.
Sharing Best Practice
John Bunyan Primary School liaises very well with other schools in Essex and Braintree in particular. The Lifting the Lid project working with good and outstanding schools to unpick those elements of outstanding practice that can make a difference to a school resulted in Reading Doorways, a list of books children need to read. This led to Y3 and Y5 children twinning with other schools to share their reading experiences. Funding was made available to improve reading resources and a love of reading is promoted in the classroom. Other work with The Teaching School Alliance and other schools in Braintree has seen the school as the centre of how inclusive practice can be promoted. The Headteacher is at the heart of this development. The Inclusion Manager has also been an integral part of the work on differentiation with other schools in the area. A senior Essex LA representative spoke glowingly about how the Headteacher ‘lives and breathes school!’ and how her distributed leadership has empowered staff and developed them professionally. Subject teams are made up of teachers from all phases and NQTs contribute to this team approach.
Excellent Transition Arrangements
There are excellent transition arrangements which ensure children have a smooth transition from one area of the school to another. There is also good work carried out with preschool settings and with secondary schools. The transition books in the Early Years ensure teachers have a good understanding of the children’s pre-school activities and their likes and dislikes.
Parents are Kept Informed
Parents are kept informed of their child’s progress at termly Learning Conferences involving the child and the parent, but the school also has an ‘open door’ policy which works effectively to ensure parents can contact staff at any time to express a concern. The school uses Seesaw and Tapestry to capture children’s learning journeys and these are used very effectively to reinforce messages to parents and to celebrate successes.
Children’s Work Ethic
The work ethic of the children, their good behaviour, friendliness and politeness impacts greatly on their engagement with their school work. Growth Mindset is reinforced throughout the school. The broad, balanced and creative curriculum stimulates children’s interests and improves engagement. Monitoring procedures, including ‘drop-ins’, formal observations and book scrutinies, ensure that lessons are sufficiently challenging and consistent in approach.
A Broad and Balanced Curriculum
In addition, visitors to the school and visits connected to topic work make the curriculum more relevant to the children. Topic work has a starter and a celebratory finish often involving parents. Specialist teachers in science, drama, music, French and maths have a significant impact on a broad and balanced curriculum. Pupil premium funding is well targeted to support many children and there is a highly supportive relationship between staff and children. The Treehouse provision is excellent in using a variety of strategies to support vulnerable children. Children become calmer and their deep-seated needs are met by this innovative provision. Ofsted stated the following in support of the school’s excellent care and attention to children’s needs, ‘As with other areas in the school, the culture across all key stages has changed because teachers expect more of pupils and what they can achieve. Pupils enjoy learning because teachers model clearly what they want pupils to do.
Additional adults are deployed carefully so that they are used effectively to support pupils. Staff are very active in their support of individuals and use a range of strategies that provide a good balance of support, while allowing pupils to develop independent skills that will help them in the future.’ The Assessor can confirm that this mirrors his experience of the school.
Very Supportive Parents
Parents are very supportive of the school. The parents’ survey is very positive and reflects a growing trust and confidence in the school ethos. Stay and Play is on a regular basis lower down the school with Come and Read taking its place in key stage two. Coffee afternoons for parents of children with special needs also helps the school gauge parental views, but also provides a forum for parents in an informal setting. The staff on the school gates at the beginning and end of the day give parents an easy route to express any concerns. The caretaker on one of the gates seemed to know all the children by name! There are generally good communication systems which are apparent all across the work of the school. The school still works hard to engage hard to reach parents and reduce absence.
High Quality CPD
All staff spoke highly of the high quality of CPD available to them. Senior teachers are on the Outstanding Teacher Programme and others have recently attended a Pie Corbett Talk for Writing Conference in London. The in-house training is extensive and empowers and develops staff to try innovative practices. The White Rose maths resources are used by staff and teachers plan together but ensure that their planning also meets the needs of their class. Performance management systems are linked to the school development plan and provide ample opportunities for training and personal development.
Highly Skilled Governors
Governors are highly skilled and have a wide range of expertise on their Governing Body. They both support and challenge the leadership team. They are well led by an enthusiastic governor who has the best interests of the staff and children at the forefront of his mind. Their work to amalgamate the two schools whilst supporting an inspirational Headteacher has been extensive. Ofsted stated, ‘Governors have supported the Headteacher well and have been instrumental in driving forward significant improvements.’ Their recent skills’ audit shows that they possess a good range of essential experiences and desirable skills. They have an accurate understanding of the school’s effectiveness. They are aware of the school’s strengths and areas for development and ask appropriate questions of leaders to push standards higher. The regular updates they receive as a result of leaders’ comprehensive monitoring processes keep them well informed.’ This goes hand in hand with the positive attitudes of all staff and their common focus to ensure children have the best possible outcomes which reflect the focus of a highly skilled Leadership Team. Everyone spoken to was passionate and showed compassion.
Engaging the Local Community
The school has worked diligently to engage with the local community and is still seeking new ways of engagement. Children have been involved in a Learner to Learner project liaising with other schools and visiting to see how other school communities operate. There are good links with St. Peter’s church and the Salvation Army where children have performed in front of parents and the wider community. Work with the elderly at the Greenfield Housing Association supporting a healthy lifestyle and similarly the work with Live Well who come into school to encourage healthy living has added to the school’s work in the community. There have also been many visitors to the school to celebrate the school’s inclusive ethos including the local MP.
Committed to Inclusive Practice
John Bunyan Primary School and Nursery is an example of a school committed to meet the needs of its children and is outstanding in its commitment to, and implementation of, inclusive practice. It is an outstanding, caring environment for pupils where high expectations have a huge impact on attainment, progress and wellbeing.
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