Latchmere School in Kingston-upon-Thames has become an IQM Centre of Excellence.
Latchmere School is a multi-academy Trust with one other school in the Trust. The mission statement states: ‘To stay at the forefront of educational innovation whilst keeping pupil wellbeing and achievement at our heart’. This is achieved through the school’s aims of the ‘6Ls’: Learning, Laughter, Loyalty, Love, Leadership, Local Community’.
Sense of Purpose
As soon as you walk into the school, there is a strong sense of purpose, focus and engagement. The Head’s commitment to ensure simple but effective structures and processes are embedded throughout the school (through research into Guy Claxton’s ‘Building Learning Power,’) as well as consistently evaluating the school’s journey means that outstanding practice prevails throughout the school.
The school is also a designated Teaching School. Research is key to all developments within the school. There is a comprehensive host of training opportunities for all staff from trainees, NQT’s to leaders, teachers and teaching assistants.
Research Informs Planning
The Head encourages the staff to use research to inform planning to meet the needs of every pupil. This was apparent throughout the meetings with staff. The staff spoke with a sense of pride and showed that all interventions are planned and assessed meticulously in the best interest of the pupils. They are tracked and monitored to measure impact. Interventions are then evaluated and agreed actions are taken to reassess the intervention and practice is altered accordingly.
The Head clearly values diversity. Staff are all valued for their individual skills and talent is nurtured. Consequently, training programmes and bespoke support is put in place for each member to reach their full potential. All staff ‘loved’ their roles within the school and felt that they were fully supported in developing their own professional career in line with their skill set.
Skilled Leadership Team
The Head has created an extremely skilled Leadership team as well as a Middle Leader structure of Best Practice Managers (BPMs) who lead each year group whose members are all aspiring to become outstanding practitioners. The wellbeing and opinions of the staff is taken very seriously when evaluating developments within the school. This allows the staff to be involved and take ownership of cultivating an inclusive environment.
Lessons are Interesting and Fun
The pupils said the teachers are ‘brilliant’ and they use a ‘variety of resources to make the lesson interesting and fun’ They also said that the school trips are ‘fantastic’ and everyone is included. They said that all the staff and pupils support each other and that if there is anyone struggling there is always either a learning mentor or a resource or member of staff in the classroom to help.
The Year Groups are divided into four classes except for Year 3 which has five classes. The pupils also have access to Music, Art, French and PE specialist teaching. The use of technology is creative. There is a wonderful ICT Apple suite as well as the use of iPads to support learning. The Innovative building for the Year 6 which includes the sports hall allows for the pupils to feel a sense of independence preparing them all for their future at secondary school. The swimming pool is also an added bonus and is used for swimming lessons as well as for use by the local community as an after-school facility. Links with other schools also encourage pupils to be part of the innovative technological world, for example, the Maths Challenge, choir events, sports activities as well as being part of the STEM project where pupils along with another local school visited the Google offices for a tour as well as taking part in a Sphero Robot workshop.
Staff Know Their Pupils
The staff know the pupils very well and targeted interventions support the acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding of the curriculum. The 6Ls is key to every aspect of the school. The key words in the 6Ls make up the reasoning and strategy behind the curriculum and all the activities within the school. The Leaders tailor the curriculum and activities to the needs of the pupils and encourage staff to set challenges that are differentiated to encourage deep learning through their Creative Curriculum.
The Creative Curriculum in each year group is constantly evaluated and set out clearly in a document for the academic year. Key areas of personal development as well as key subject areas are covered throughout the term. For example, the theme for the term in Year 6 is ‘branching out’ addressing geography through the rainforests, in Year 5 ‘Questions, Questions’ addressing history through the Ancient Greeks, in Year 4 ‘Changes’ addressing English through ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in Year 3 ‘Utopia’ addressing the local area of Kingston Upon Thames and comparing it with other places across the globe, in Year 2 ‘Daring Discoveries and Imaginarium’ addressing famous discoverers such as Christopher Columbus and in Year 1 ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ addressing poetry and creatures in the sea. These are just some examples of the subjects covered through the theme of the term.
Supporting Each Other
On a visit to the nursery provision, the Year 6 pupils were busy supporting the different creative activities when not needed during rehearsals for their school end of year production. The nursery was a hive of activity. The Year 6 pupils and the nursery children were clearly enjoying and benefitting from the interactions.
Shared Learning and Celebration
All the careful planning for themed teaching and learning allows for scope and imagination through the core and foundation subjects. The work produced culminates in displays and assemblies for the rest of the school and for parents giving a sense of shared learning and a celebration of all the excellent knowledge acquired as well as the progress made across the curriculum to widen the horizons of all pupils as well as promoting confidence and enjoyment in learning.
Displays Reflect Creativity and Effort
The colourful outstanding displays around the school and in the classrooms reflect the creativity and the efforts produced by the pupils. The outstanding implementation of the Creative Curriculum ensures that all pupils regardless of individual needs develop and progress through the years to become curious, confident and independent lifelong learners ready to enjoy life and to be able to face any difficulty and uncertainty with resilience and calmness.
Latchmere School is committed in its approach to ensure all pupils are catered for through the carefully thought out additional provisions for those pupils with additional needs and EHCPs. All interventions are monitored closely through the SEN code of Practice ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ model. The school has a specialist ASD provision which is so successful that an additional provision is being created for KS1 in September 2018. The current specialised resource provision called ‘Topaz’ has a specialist full time teacher, two full time TAs and one part time TA. There is a multi- sensory approach to learning. The provision means that pupils feel safe in school and can access the curriculum in the main school if it is thought to be appropriate for the pupil. The staff have built exceptionally positive relationships with the pupils through creating an inviting and calming environment. Resources such as Makaton, (which fits in with the visual signing throughout the school), Jump Ahead, Speech Link, Time to Talk, Circle Time, Time to Talk support learning. However, the staff also develop and adapt the curriculum with bespoke tailored resources created ‘in house’ too. External professionals also meet with the staff to share their expertise. Topaz pupils explained in the pupil group meeting that they ‘loved being there’ but also ‘loved going into classes and to assembly and trips with the other pupils in their year’. It was clear from the learning walk and from the pupil group meeting that pupils feel fully included and pupils fully accept diversity in each other.
The Sky View Suite
The second environment for SEN pupils is ‘The Sky View Suite’ (TSVS). This is an outstanding provision with a highly qualified team of practitioners. The team is deeply committed to ensuring the pupils are valued so that they progress in their learning and become confident and happy individuals. The highly resourced centre along with a range of expertise amongst the staff means that the department can cater for all pupils requiring additional support regardless of their need. The staff are committed and will always seek external advice if they feel they are unfamiliar with a certain SEN need. No pupil is excluded from support. The provision has been skilfully developed to address literacy and numeracy difficulties, speech and language needs as well as those who require emotional support. Through the commitment of the Head to develop expertise in staff, the SEN team lead in a specialist area under the outstanding guidance of the Inclusion Lead. The monitoring and tracking of individual needs is exceptional from the ‘Focus Children Booklet’ where data is scrutinised to ensure future planning meets the needs in the next academic year, to individual profiles and timelines for interventions. In addition to this, there is continual research by the staff to overcome barriers to learning. The Inclusion Lead leaves ‘no stone unturned’ ensuring that the monitoring of interventions and classroom practice through targets set is high on the inclusion agenda so that the school ensures all pupils make progress.
It was inspirational to witness staff speaking or to see staff teaching their specialist area of intervention. In the’ Sky View Suite’ outstanding practice in literacy and numeracy meant that pupils were fully engaged and enjoying their learning. Skilled questioning and research into specialist resources such as ‘colourful semantics’ by the staff meant that all pupils felt secure to engage in learning in order to make progress and were clearly enjoying the experience.
The Lead BPM teaching Assistant had been identified to develop the nurture provision in the school for Reception and Year 1. It was wonderful and exciting to hear how the provision had grown with further thoughts on developing it into Year 2. She spoke of the structures in place so that it was a successful provision with parents fully included. Resources such as ‘Ginger the Bear’ were used to develop social and communication skills. However, through her expertise it was clear that bespoke support was developed as her knowledge of the pupils meant that she understood their needs.
Another exceptional teaching assistant had developed ‘Friendship Groups’ at lunchtimes. This was fully inclusive with each member being able to bring along a friend. These are two examples of the Leaders in the school tapping into staff’s talents and developing a key area for them to lead.
Impact of Interventions is Measured
Impact for all interventions is measured with a view for pupils exiting support if specialist staff and the Inclusion Lead feel the data shows secure progress. If it does not show sufficient progress, the intervention will be reassessed or the pupil may need longer with the current intervention. Due to this excellent monitoring and evaluation of progress, all pupils receive the support they need to ensure they become resilient and confident learners to enable them to enjoy learning and achieve their potential.
New Teachers Fully Supported
The young teachers who were starting out on their careers felt they had learned so much during their time at the school. They felt supported with interventions and planning. They also felt there were opportunities to develop their expertise or interests. For example, one of the teachers was to become a specialist teacher in the ASD provision from September 2018 having been a Class teacher in Year 4. The other teacher felt fully supported as an NQT with numerous opportunities for training courses to support her practice. They felt that there were high expectations which were clearly mapped out in the ‘Staff Handbook’. The structures and processes meant that they were clear in their role. The expectation around planning was also clear. They felt that the BPMs offered support and the regular meetings meant that communication was excellent. The Inclusion Lead was always available for extra guidance on any pupil not making progress. The Foundation Stage Leader led a team of highly skilled staff and ensured that she knew all the pupils well by having a timetable of home visits in July ready for the start of the new academic year in September. A positive transition was key throughout the school and social stories as well as ‘swap around’ days prepared those pupils for the next stage in their education as well as the continued ongoing support through Learning Partners within the class setting and buddying up between the older year groups with the younger ones.
Planning is Rigorous
Planning from all the staff is rigorous in line with the high expectations of the Senior Leaders and BMPs.
Partnership with Parents
Partnership with the parents promote positive learning. There is a strong PTA ‘Latchmere School Parents Association’ (LSPA) who organise events to raise funds for school resources such as the refurbishment of the ICT suite, iPads, interactive whiteboards for the classrooms, equipment for the playgrounds, as well as refurbishment of the reception playground. Both parents and governors stated that the LSPA fully supported the school and were excellent in their ability to raise funds. The parents interviewed could not speak highly enough of the Inclusion Lead and the team as well as their child’s class teacher. They all felt the school had support them throughout the process of identifying their individual child’s need and then addressing the issues with specific interventions that were constantly monitored and evaluated. They felt that they could approach the school anytime with any concerns that were immediately addressed. They used the phrase in the meeting such as the staff go ‘above and beyond’, they ‘instinctively know’ and are ‘very supportive’. They talked about the meetings including the workshops for Maths and English, suggested reading books for home learning, curriculum packs with resources for home to support the teaching and learning for the academic year. The parents said that the ‘no child is excluded from a trip’ and that the school embraces diversity. The governors visit the school regularly. The governor for Inclusion and the Chair of governors felt that the school could not be faulted with their practice and were continually evaluating more effective ways to communicate with parents. They were in the process of developing a once a term governor library coffee morning event for parents so that they had access to speak to the governing body if there were any issues or concerns. All governors attended targeted training and were fully up to date and part of the decision making with the exciting developments in the school including the new KS1 ASD provision.
Inclusive Outstanding Practice
Latchmere School is a true reflection of inclusive outstanding practice where ‘pupil wellbeing and achievement ‘is at the ‘heart’ of the school’s ethos.
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