Kenmore Park Infant and Nursery School in Harrow achieves IQM Flagship School status.
Culturally and Ethnically Diverse
Kenmore Park Infant and Nursery School has been an Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence for the past three years, entitling them to request consideration for Flagship status. The school serves a culturally and ethnically diverse population in Harrow, with the majority of pupils having English as an additional language. The four-form entry school shares the site and buildings with Kenmore Park Junior School, although they are separate schools. There has been a substantial drop in the number of children in receipt of Pupil Premium, which, together with the costs of staffing, presents significant financial challenges.
A Strong Community Feel
There is a strong community feel at Kenmore Park, with an emphasis on developing relationships between pupils, staff and parents. The school has shown considerable flexibility in responding to the changing needs of the school, such as the recent rise in the numbers of pupils with Romanian as a first language. Diversity is valued and celebrated on a daily basis through special events such as International Days where parents bring in and share traditional dishes they have prepared, and through the inclusion of songs in different languages in the Sing Sing Festival. The school has a bilingual library which families can borrow from; this is in the process of being refreshed and will be relaunched in the autumn term. One adult told me it is about:
“including everyone whatever their culture”.
Amongst the staff team a number of community languages are spoken, including Gujarati and Romanian, offering translation services and points of contact for parents who are not able to communicate in English. This helps parents to develop an understanding of the school and education system. Another example of the way in which the school involves parents is through WOW walks, encouraging families to accompany their children to the local park and engage in conversation with them on the way.
The school offers substantial support for parents and families, both formally and informally, and is part of the Harrow Schools Parent Partnership. This is focused on developing strategies to engage parents, many of whom are working long hours or who are isolated within the community.
Family Learning Targets
Family learning targets different year groups in term, as well as regular curriculum events. Consideration is given to accessibility for all members of the school community, such as including photos in the newsletter and providing translations of key school information. Parent questionnaires have been provided in hard copies as well as online so that they are accessible to families without internet access. One parent told me that they had considered moving out of London, but that her son loved the school so much that she did not want to move him. She spoke of the community feel to the school and said of the parents:
“everyone comes together – there’s never anyone by themselves”.
Induction events for new families aim to get things right for children at the start of their education, with an awareness that there is no one way of doing things. The parent of a child with complex needs spoke about the way the school had managed her son’s transition into the school, and the support that had been put in place; she described the support staff member working with her child as
“like a mum – she helps him to get further – she does exactly what I would do”.
Senior staff are visible as much as possible, ensuring that parents know who they are and building relationships with families; parents told me that staff were very helpful and that any issues were quickly addressed. Parent volunteers work within the school, and several have accessed teaching assistant courses via Stanmore College and completed placements at the school.
A Holistic Approach
The school has a holistic approach to the provision for pupils, including taking account of the local challenges within the community. For example, they are taking practical steps to address issues such as children’s oral hygiene (a significant issue in Harrow) in addition to participation in events such as Healthy Schools Week. The school holds the gold award for Healthy Schools. The deputy head teachers for both the infant and junior schools work closely with workers from Home-Start, Every Step Matters, to provide bespoke support for children affected by violence at home. The school constantly seeks new ways to support pupils, such as the Babywatching project planned for September, which is designed to support children with attachment issues in developing their ability to relate to others.
Confident and Happy Children
The children themselves are confident and happy in the school setting. Expectations for behaviour and learning are underpinned by the UNICEF Rights of the child, as the school is a Rights Respecting school; one child spoke of his “right to learn”. Children feel well supported by adults and several told me how different adults had helped them, for example, by teaching them letters and helping with reading. One child said:
“If we don’t know what we are doing our teachers, or our friends help us”.
Another child told me how proud she was when her parents visited the school to see her learning.
Visible learning is used to promote the development of the skills needed in order to learn successfully, with animal characters such as Wise Owl and Sensible Squirrel representing different traits. Children are taught to be reflective and resilient and learn how to work together; staff have stickers related to each of these characteristics which they use to give children explicit feedback on their learning behaviour. Other projects allow children to develop their skills in other ways, such as an after-school family Art Project which will result in a display at the Civic Centre. The curriculum is enhanced by local visits and trips further afield, including Willows Farm, Paradise Park and Knebworth as well as trips to central London. A number of after school clubs are available. One class teacher told me that her children loved being at school so much they did not want to go on holiday!
Children have a variety of opportunities to have their voices heard, and to express themselves in different ways. For example, children performing in the Talent Show, used the stage to sing, dance or play instruments with considerable confidence and pride. One child was supported by her older sister, who had come down from the juniors especially. Children are encouraged to take on responsibilities, such as the eco warriors who use “litter critters” to tidy the school, and school council who work closely with staff to address particular issues. This in turns helps foster the pupils’ understanding of British values; one example of this is the current eco warriors deciding that they should not all reapply so that other children could have a chance to take part.
Receptive to Needs
The school is receptive to the needs of individual pupils and makes a range of reasonable, and sometimes exceptional, adjustments to support children with complex needs. For example, the school cook prepares a separate meal with ingredients provided from home for a child with autism and sensory issues around eating. Staff know their children well, and there is an awareness of each child’s strengths and needs. Children not making expected progress or with other barriers to learning are quickly identified, and appropriate provision put in place where needed, such as phonics booster sessions. One member of support staff said:
“We adapt it all the time for every child”.
Early bilingual learners receive pre-teaching vocabulary sessions as well as in class support, with an emphasis on “putting the word to an image” in practical contexts. Opportunities to develop a wide range of skills are planned for, such as balance bike training for a group including children with complex needs.
Staff are encouraged to reflect on their own practice through the visible learning approach, which is now well embedded in the school. This facilitates staff to think reflectively about their pedagogy and the impact on the children with the support of colleagues through a lesson study approach. Staff have opportunities to observe each other and share their findings and ideas at year group meetings; as one member of staff said:
“We’re all in one team – we’re all working together”.
“We’re building a culture where we all share and seek advice”.
For example, a focus on feedback and marking has led to the development of a common language to use with children, and a renewed focus on explicit feedback. This has had a particular impact on the experiences of children with SEN, who are now encouraged to become as independent as possible from an early age.
A Team of Support
There is a strong team of support staff with a variety of skills who are used to effectively support identified needs, both through formal interventions (Fischer Family Trust) and other strategies, doing what one teacher described as “a brilliant job”. 1st Class@Number is due to be introduced next term. The impact of interventions are carefully tracked through baseline and review assessments. There is a constant drive to maximise resources to provide effective ways of supporting children; one example of this is the “5-minute club” that the welfare assistants run – basically a daily check-in with vulnerable pupils.
Staff Feel Supported
Staff feel supported by senior leaders and have the confidence to try new things, such as the introduction of Lego therapy; they also appreciate the care the school leadership has for them as adults, for example, by providing access to counselling services within the school. Another teacher spoke of how the staff worked together to meet the needs of a new family; with another member of staff translating, she was able to find out more about her new pupil and have a much better understanding of his situation.
The school works closely with Kenmore Park Juniors to ensure a smooth transition for year 2 pupils moving to year 3, and joint training and moderation sessions take place regularly. There are also good links with other local schools through the Stanmore and Kenton cluster; schools hold joint INSET days and bid together for access to funds to support particular projects, such as access to play therapy and counselling services for parents and staff as well as pupils. Kenmore Park has also offered support to a local secondary school, Park High, in the development of a basic phonics and guided reading programme for older pupils.
Links with External Agencies
The school has strong links with external agencies, such as speech and language therapy, and also buys in some bespoke services, for example, a play therapist. Links with local businesses and other groups are actively pursued in order to benefit the pupils; one example of this is the link with Angle House, which provides dental hygiene workshops and goody bags for the children. The school also has links with Stanmore College, who provide ESOL classes for parents at the neighbouring Children’s Centre. Staff work closely with the Children’s Centre and Early Years staff support with the two-year-old checks, enabling early identification of any issues and allowing the school to plan appropriately for children starting in the school. One advantage of this is that young children with speech and language difficulties are identified and receive input over the summer holidays; staff can also help with any further referrals that are needed.
Safeguarding is a Strength
Safeguarding is a strength of the school, and the Headteacher sits on the local safeguarding board to represent primary heads. The school has robust procedures in place to support vulnerable children, particularly once social care has ceased its involvement. In these situations, the school organises a Team Around the Child, to make sure improvements are sustained and that children and parents are appropriately supported. This might include assisting with translation, or signposting to relevant agencies, such as the Harrow Law Centre for advice on housing issues. The school has provided food vouchers for some families in need or supplied additional meals and snacks for children experiencing home issues. Children are taught how to keep themselves safe through the use of NSPCC resources including the Pants programme. The school also provides placements for social care students to enable them to see referrals from the point of view of school staff.
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