Kells Lane Primary School in Gateshead has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Vibrant and Welcoming
Kells Lane is a vibrant, welcoming school which offers a safe and highly supportive environment for the pupils in its care. The school’s inclusive ethos is evident in the wide range of strategies it employs and experiences it provides. This larger than average, over-subscribed 4 to 11 Primary school has 417 pupils on roll and serves the Low Fell area of Gateshead. The proportion of pupils in receipt of pupil premium and with SEN is below average and the majority of pupils are of White British heritage. The school received an Outstanding grade by Ofsted in 2007 and recent interim assessment by the Local Authority (October 2017) confirm that the school has maintained its high standards.
Moving Forward Continuously
The large imposing Victorian building is clearly signposted and extends warmth, from the welcome at the office to the friendly greetings from pupils and parents in the yard; it exudes a sense of community and collaboration. The school ethos itself is built on solid foundations; staff trust one another and have genuinely supportive relationships, pupils are valued and trusted to be responsible and to take pride in all they do. The energy, enthusiasm and passion of staff moves the school continuously forward and places inclusion at the heart of all decisions. Diversity is respected and welcomed so that everyone knows they have positive contributions to make. The Headteacher and her team lead by example, promoting the school’s motto “Believe, Work Hard, Achieve” through their own actions and everyone within adheres to this to promote the highest of standards of provision.
Consistently High Standards
The school and its community are rightly proud of their history of strong academic achievements and consistently high standards; there are high aspirations for every child within to achieve their very best and they work hard to live up to these expectations. However, the personal development of children; their health and wellbeing, social and emotional needs is given just as high a priority so that the whole child is nurtured and is able to flourish regardless of starting points. Inclusion, just like every child, matters here. The Headteacher and her leadership team communicate their vision clearly and frequently and as a result there is a determination and willingness from staff, parents, pupils and governors to support the school in its drive towards excellence. Staff work relentlessly to provide equality of learning opportunities for all children in school regardless of gender, race, disadvantage or ability, actively seeking maximum success for every learner and they feel valued and trusted.
Removing Barriers to Learning
The whole school team strives to remove barriers to learning, however these may be presented and collaborates to find solutions. They are committed to providing equal opportunities for the academic curriculum, for sport, music, humanities and the arts to enrich the lives and better the chances of the pupils in their care.
A Haven of Imagination
The large bright airy building, set over three floors, is adorned with quality displays of children’s work which they point out with pride, demonstrating the impact of the engaging and motivational curriculum. Not a corner is neglected as every inch of space is used as break out and intervention areas. The building itself is in a built-up area set off from a main road and has a hard-standing playground typical of its time, however swathes of green, a small garden and a hobbit house in a hill bring aspects of nature to the space providing an oasis of calm. Outdoors is a haven of imagination, collaboration and physical play, allowing for a wide range of experiences and further opportunities for pupils to display acts of kindness and to care for one another. Children organise their own team games, they take turns in the Hobbit House, on the trim trail and ball park taking care of their resources and each other. There is a strong sense of belonging and every individual is trusted that they will live by the three simple rules which ask them to Be Kind, Respect Yourself and Others and Work Hard. Over the two-day assessment there were many opportunities to see these actively demonstrated. All children are Buddies here, encouraging younger pupils in their play, offering a helping hand and delighting in one another’s achievements. Laughter abounds and pupils are more than eager to tell you how proud they are to belong here, as one child said,
“This is just the best school ever because it’s so friendly and everyone in it helps you to learn and have fun”.
The Children are a Delight
Children are a delight to engage with, being polite, articulate and friendly. For example, the School Council are mature and eloquent as seen in an assembly they planned and delivered to pupils. They understand their responsibilities towards others and are rightly proud of being selected from many worthy candidates, being excellent role models and possessing an infectious enthusiasm for the job. They listen to the views of their peers and consider all suggestions thoughtfully. They have ambition for their school and themselves and a pride in the responsibility they are given. This ambition is shared unanimously. One pupil who joined the school recently was keen to say,
“I made friends and became part of the class really quickly. I do so much more work here because we’re expected to and I’ve learned so much more”.
Roles of Responsibility
Children of all ages take on roles of responsibility, for example as young sports leaders, librarians, playground buddies and peer mentors who help with learning. Pupils’ behaviour and conduct in and around school is exemplary and key values are demonstrated through positive relationships, well targeted praise and celebrations of pupil achievement. Relationships between staff and pupils are excellent, pupils thrive within the atmosphere of care, trust and challenge provided. A pupil explained this with clarity,
“We know what’s expected of us so we do it. We want to be safe and enjoy our lessons and it’s our responsibility to make that happen ”.
Children Engage in the Challenges
Within classes not a minute of learning is lost. Children quietly engage in the challenges they have been given, talking through their work with their peers and remaining on task throughout, again trust in action. As one pupil said,
“We like being able to talk hard work through and work it out for ourselves”.
Within the inviting Foundation Stage children are already demonstrating stickability and tenacity and this is then developed throughout the school. Children’s confidence, resilience, empathy and perseverance are encouraged as teachers promote the strategies of incremental learning and growth mindset. This is highly visible and frequently reinforced, helping children view mistakes as opportunities to learn, encouraging them to discuss strategies for problem-solving and being able to self-edit with confidence. This was evident within a Maths lesson where pupils were discussing various strategies to apply to a problem and in an English lesson where pupils discussed higher order vocabulary whilst staff modelled and scaffolded the learning using prompts. The impact of this can be seen in the quality and quantity of work produced which is exemplary.
A Broad and Balanced Curriculum
The curriculum is planned to be broad and balanced and includes many enrichment experiences across all subject areas which are brought to life by an exciting range of trips, visits by artists, musicians, historians, poets and authors. A new project-based approach is underway for Key Stage 2 which promotes children’s own interests and allows them to negotiate how best to present this to their audience. This makes learning memorable for pupils and gives valuable practice in the skills of research and communication.
The Headteacher is a Visible Presence
The Headteacher is a visible presence on the yard and within school, this is welcomed by parents, pupils and staff. A parent said,
“No problem is too big or too small and is always followed up”.
Teachers meet and greet pupils in the yard which provides a further platform for information sharing,
“Staff always have time for you and know every child’s need”.
Childcare is provided on site and this operates seamlessly alongside the school, providing activities before and after school. Stakeholder views are important to the school and consultation is used to inform development plans.
Imaginative Ideas Take Shape
Kells Lane is a “You asked…We did” school, where plans and policies swiftly become practice as leaders and governors strive to make things happen. This can be seen in the outdoor areas where pupils can see their imaginative ideas take shape, in the vibrant library which reflects their interests and within IT which meets the challenges of the moment.
A Strong Focus on Inclusion
Teachers and support staff communicate very well with one another and share planning, marking and assessments so that they get to know pupils’ needs and interests, maintaining a strong focus on inclusion. They collaborate so that good practice and specific training can be shared. Support staff agreed with a comment made
“It makes everyone’s job easier if we work together for children”.
A nurture group further supports vulnerable learners helping to remove barriers to learning. Staff differentiate according to need breaking the curriculum down and sharing targets with pupils, setting small steps that are relevant and achievable for those who need this. The frequent opportunities to celebrate and reward effort and success keeps pupils focused and motivated.
A Supportive Tracking and Assessment System
The tracking and assessment system is highly supportive and the rigorous monitoring is used to highlight swiftly where interventions or catch up may be needed and to help pupils move towards mastery and greater depth. Parents have high regard for the work of the SENCO and recognise the passion and drive that goes into finding the right pathway and intervention for each child. It is outward looking when brokering support for vulnerable pupils and their families and has an extensive network of agencies to draw upon. Leaders have supported access to quality CPD opportunities, linked to school need, personal interest and educational agenda and this commitment by leaders has helped cultivate expertise.
Challenging and Supportive Governors
Governors are skilled in their role of challenge and support and have been instrumental in ensuring value for money and driving plans forward. They know the school well and are clear about what is needed to make it even better but are equally proud of the school and its achievements.
On my visit to the school, I was given the opportunity to verify information provided through the self-evaluation review and work scrutiny, to conduct learning walks, view assemblies, interview staff involved in key aspects of the school’s provision and meet with pupils, governors and parent representatives. It was a pleasure to view Kells Lane in action and to see first-hand the commitment from all within to provide an education for all children irrespective of differences.
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.
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