Lakeside Primary School in Cardiff has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Welcoming, Vibrant and Happy
It is clear from the moment of entering the school that Lakeside is a welcoming, vibrant and happy environment that attaches equal importance to personal development, wellbeing and exceptional pupil outcomes. There is a determination, led by the Headteacher and supported by a highly capable leadership team, that barriers to learning will be identified and addressed.
Sources of Evidence
The assessment process included an evaluation of the exceptionally comprehensive set of documentary evidence provided by the school along with external documentation such as Estyn reports and data from My Local School. The visit included many discussions with pupils, learning walks, a school assembly (with an input from an external organisation), discussions with parents, key LA staff, senior leaders, lesson observations, SLT meeting, discussion with the chair of governors, meetings with support staff, conversations with teachers, presentations by pupils and last but not least – an exceptionally accommodating double-act of Headteacher and Inclusion Manager.
There are around 500 pupils of which 17% have additional learning needs. There are over 30 languages spoken at the school, reflecting the fact that around 50% of the pupils come from ethnic minority backgrounds. Over a third of the pupils have English as an additional language. Outcomes by the end of Key Stage 2 at Lakeside have improved significantly in recent years and are now well above the average for Wales in mathematics, English and science. Attendance is also well above local and national levels.
There is a National School Categorisation System in Wales which gives a clear and fair picture of how well a school is performing compared with other schools across Wales. Lakeside’s status recently moved to “green”- indicating a high level of confidence that the school has the capacity and quality of leadership to maintain the current high standards and secure further improvements.
Inclusion is at the Centre of Everything
When last inspected, Estyn found high levels of care and support for pupils, an extensive personal and social education programme, positive attitudes, successful promotion of social responsibility and good academic standards. The school has built on these strong foundations by placing inclusion at the centre of its school improvement plan – a live document driven rigorously by the Headteacher. The importance attached to inclusion is reflected in the school’s mantra: “Living and Learning Together”. “Mantras” are an interesting feature at the school. Each class has one, displayed prominently and proudly on each door, and the incredibly enthusiastic and articulate group of pupils who led the
tour around the school were keen to point them all out and explain what they mean.
When this group of pupils took us to the nursery, one pointed out the mantra : “Small hands change the world” and turned to a fellow pupil saying, “do you remember when we were this small?”. It was a brief but sincere moment of reflection that captured one of the features of Lakeside – pausing for thought and making a comment in the knowledge that it will be listened to. These mantras are based on ideas initially presented by class teachers but then refined following class discussions. Once agreed, they are frequently revisited to ensure they are not just “empty words”. Again, this turning of rhetoric into reality is a strong feature of the school. There were frequent occurrences of both the Headteacher and the ALNCo/Inclusion Lead saying,
“if it doesn’t or isn’t likely to make a difference, we aren’t really interested”.,
although a member of Cardiff’s Inclusion team commented that the school is exceptionally open-minded and can be
“guaranteed to run with an idea that they believe is in the best interests of learners”.
One of the mantras, “mistakes are proof that we are trying”, is often seen on generic motivational posters or displays around schools, but at Lakeside it was explicitly built in to classroom activity. We saw several examples where pupils were invited or expected to go beyond their comfort zone. Mistakes were inevitable and are turned into learning opportunities by skilful teachers. This appropriately high level of challenge was also in evidence in many of the very effective small-group intervention activities led by teaching assistants.
An Exceptionally Vibrant Learning Environment
Despite the school site posing a number of challenges physically and environmentally due to its layout, multiple levels and the occasional cramped corridor, the learning environment, both indoors and outside, is exceptionally vibrant. Excellent use is also made of “instant displays” where pupils’ work is shown by attaching examples to overhead “lines” by pegs. This effectively captures both the current standard of work but, importantly, demonstrates progress in learning. This relentless focus on progress is an essential part of the school’s improvement strategy. The Headteacher has brought about a step-change in the school’s use of data. Although it is clearly more comprehensive than is found in many schools, its real strength comes from the uses to which it is put. Tracking data is thoroughly evaluated, and this leads to very clear and focused actions either at classroom level, 1-1 or small group interventions or the triggering of additional external support. Regular pupil progress meetings effectively include parents/carers in this process. Parents spoken to during the assessment process invariably spoke highly of the school and 1 pair in particular really valued the focus on academic achievement in addition to the additional support their son received due to some highly complex and challenging physical issues. Parents described the school as accessible and supportive yet appropriately challenging, open and friendly. Communication between school and home was praised by all.
Pupil Councils and Consultation Groups
The school has established a number of pupil councils and consultation groups. These are an asset to the school and are used effectively to model participation, democracy, inclusion and collaboration. Members are very enthusiastic, articulate and passionate about the work they do. First-hand accounts from the Council, Criw Cymraeg, SNAG (School Nutrition Action Group) and the Digital Leaders group provided a real testament to ways in which pupils feel valued and a real part of the community. It was clear that they knew they made a real contribution to the school’s success.
Positive and Enthusiastic Staff and Parents
With such positive and enthusiastic teachers, supportive parents, talented teaching and support staff it would be both easy and understandable to assume that the school could not fail to succeed. However, there is something much subtler at Lakeside. The Headteacher, still relatively new in post, has successfully integrated a number of key factors. There is a very clear and unambiguous statement of intent. This informs the exceptionally high-quality documentation and planning produced across the school which has consequently led to the consistency of practices across the school. High expectations of pupils are both informed and supported by a comprehensive progress tracking regime, the outputs from which are used to great effect. Accountability is serious without being overbearing which has led to high expectations of all staff. The quality of teaching evidenced during the assessment process was high. A culture of openness has led to a tangible sense of respect at all levels which means concerns as well as successes can be shared within a culture of security that promotes an appetite for improvement. Inclusion is not a box to be ticked; at Lakeside it is clearly a mindset that underpins everything the school does.
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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