Kingsford Community School in Newham has achieved IQM Flagship School status.
The school is a very large (still expanding) community school at the heart of its community. The school was established around nineteen years ago and the current Headteacher is still in post. She is a leader with great determination and she has a very clear vision of what the future should look like and she has communicated this very effectively to all sections of the school community. The school is an inclusive community school that welcomes pupils of all abilities and disabilities. The school recognises the need to break down barriers to inclusion at all levels so that every child can thrive. The school is a very special place with a unique ethos and atmosphere. It is extremely popular in the community and it continues to be oversubscribed.
Sources of Evidence
My visit to Kingsford Community School was an extremely busy day and I was able to meet with a large number of people including the Headteacher, the IQM Coordinator and numerous middle and senior leaders. In addition, I met with the Inclusion Team and many pupils. Furthermore, I had a short tour of the school with two senior teachers and a working lunch with a range of teachers. However, the highlight of my day was the welcome I received on arrival from the nurture group. Their warm welcome and enthusiasm was the start of an extremely positive day.
Evaluating the Curriculum
The school has been looking at its curriculum very carefully and two Associate Assistant Heads have been leading on this and have been involving middle leaders in these discussions and these middle leaders in turn are involving their teams in these debates. In recent years the emphasis has been on ensuring that the requirements on the new GCSE examinations are included in all schemes of learning and the curriculum debate is now wider with stronger focus on the aspirations, access and achievement of all pupils by continuing to develop a broad, balanced and appropriate curriculum for all pupils. There will be a particular focus on Personal Development and Welfare. This work will continue and will of course be informed by the Ofsted framework (when it is published). However, the school is determined to develop a curriculum that is unique to the pupils at Kingsford Community School and I have no doubt that they will continue in this direction.
The needs of more able pupils are one of the priorities for the school and there has been lots of activities in this area. Subsequently, more able pupils are a standing agenda item of all department and year meetings so that there is real focus on the attainment and achievement and wellbeing of this particular group. Therefore, curriculum development and issues around assessment for this group are regularly debated and planned.
Best for All
Although inclusion is part and parcel of the whole school curriculum the school continues to be a lead contributor to the “Best for All” Inclusion Alliance for Newham and are involved in working with others on developing an inclusion curriculum. As part of the inclusion agenda the school continues to develop appropriate provision packages for those pupils who can’t access mainstream and develop partnerships with providers to ensure these pupils have access to Post 16 education and training.
Ongoing Safeguarding Training
I met with one of the senior leaders with responsibility for safeguarding and am clear that ongoing training for staff is regularly provided and is completely appropriate. Furthermore, the school goes to great lengths to raise awareness and guidance for pupils and staff who have safeguarding concerns.
“Good Character” Teaching
As part of curriculum development the school has introduced a programme that explicitly develops the teaching of ‘Good Character’ to staff and pupils. This included the identification of what is meant by character and identifying the 8 Virtues of ‘Good Character’. Staff inset was provided at the start of September and was followed by the pupils first full school day, which focused on “Good Character.” Additional work was undertaken by the students during assemblies, registrations and PSHE lessons and this ensured that the Good Character work was continually discussed with, and by, pupils. The students have since undertaken focus days during which character continues to be a focus. All students have completed self-reflection tasks to support them in assessing and reviewing their personal development. The pupils I met were keen to tell me about this and their role in helping to develop and deliver some of this work. This work will continue as the school ensures they prepare pupils for a life outside of, and beyond, school.
Performance Management Systems
Following my visit to the school last year the school will continue its current emphasis and rigorous accountability and performance management systems however, they will now be keeping these systems separate from professional learning initiatives designed to improving teaching and learning. This is important because teachers get extremely anxious during monitoring processes and this is not a good learning experience. However, if professional learning is seen as separate activities, they will be able to benefit and learn from and with their peers. Quality assurance measures are well used in all areas of the school to ensure that provision for pupils is of high quality.
Pupils told me that they are subject to regular tests every half term in all subjects but they don’t see this as a problem. They did say this testing did make them anxious but they felt it was good to get them used to doing examinations and the results and feedback was helpful to them. Individual pupil data is collected after all testing periods and teachers carry out detailed analysis and to intervene appropriately. Whilst this does involve increased workload for teachers, great care has been taken to calendar the assessments/tests to give teachers time for marking and data input.
Teaching and Learning
The school recognises that teaching and learning is at the heart of a truly inclusive school. Following my advice during my last visit the school is redesigning their teaching and learning procedures so that they enhance teachers’ skills and repertoire without being linked to accountability processes. The school carried out an audit of the professional and personal needs of staff that enabled the school to set appraisal targets based on career development needs which staff were enthusiastic about. Giving them a choice in areas they want to develop as teachers is important if teachers are to feel ownership of their own development. The whole school CPD programme was drawn up around the needs identified by teachers. TEEP is used as a framework for teaching and learning and is delivered to various groups depending on ambitions and current career stage. TEEP training and half termly TEEP Meets and market places have been organised and held to share good practice which has supported and improved teaching and learning. I have suggested that a focus group of teachers might be asked to meet to debate and then suggest some of the themes and areas of professional learning that teachers most value. Most professional learning will be around whole school priorities and it is important to allow teachers the opportunity to identify their own developmental needs.
Middle Leadership Development
Another new development has been the introduction of Post-holder Professional Development designed to support middle leadership development. This has been well received by staff. In addition, the launch of the Lead Practitioner programme has been popular with teachers who are keen to be involved.
The pupils I met with were able to tell me about their involvement in sharing their ideas on teaching and learning. After all they are the recipients of teaching every day and have lots of feedback to provide for teachers. Pupils’ teaching and learning ambassadors are being trained to help support in subject reviews and this is adding weight to pupil voice. This is an important development that I hope will grow and develop and allow pupils to influence the way teachers teach and pupils learn. I am aware this is an ongoing development and needs to be carefully planned and implemented.
Parental Engagement is a Priority
Parental engagement at all levels continues to be a priority and the school will work hard to embed the successful work that has already happened. A range of information workshops were planned and delivered over the last twelve months including structured conversations with targeted parents of pupils in years 8, 9 and 10 whose child has been identified as not making the expected rates of academic progress; how to engage in discussion with their child about the any barriers or challenges they are facing which are having an negative impact on their learning. Other workshops have included transition into secondary school for all year 7 parents, focused on meeting key staff, the school’s E-Learning platform and sharing information about the various software available to support their child’s learning. A Careers Fair consisting of post16 providers for YR11 parents provided opportunity for parents to discuss with colleges the range of courses they offer. In addition, E-Learning safety workshops have been well attended and are popular with parents.
Good Relationships with Parents and Carers
Parental engagement is an ongoing issue and is never finished so it is important to keep revisiting and revising what is on offer. Asking parents/carers what they need and want is also important as we must not assume they will want to engage in what we decide is appropriate. Having said that, the school has very good relationships with parents and is always looking for ways to enhance that partnership.
Can-do Attitude and Approach
The school has made huge changes to their provision following my last visit a year ago and I am really impressed by their can-do attitude and approach. They are self-reflective and are certainly not complacent and they really deserve the title of an IQM Flagship School. They have much to be proud of. They have participated in Cluster activities and will, I am sure, be hosting a similar day for other schools in the next year. They have lots of good practice to share.
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