LIPA Primary School in Liverpool has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
LIPA Primary School is a new and growing school that opened in 2014 with two Reception classes. Currently the school has pupils up to year 3 and the school will be full by September 2020. The school building itself is stunning and overlooks the Anglican Cathedral. It has undergone an internal refurbishment to transform itself into the current school. Each room within the building boasts scenic views and after visiting, it is clear that this school is very much at the heart of the city.
As a brand new school, it has continued to evolve, working hard to ensure a seamless transition for those pupils who have joined. Its first OFSTED inspection was carried out in July 2017 and it is clear that the school is moving from strength to strength. In such a short space of time you can visibly see the amazing work undertaken by staff and pupils at the school which contributes to the inclusive practices that the school values. As an assessor I was overwhelmed by how far the school has come in its inclusive journey in such a relatively short space of time. Parents were honest in the fact that it was a risk initially sending their children here as no-one quite knew how the school would develop. However, they were all unanimous in their feelings that it was the best decision they made and that the school ‘feels like one big family who are always looking out for each other’.
A Warm Welcome
I was given such a warm welcome from entering the reception and immediately made to feel a part of the school family. Without exception, this warmth exuded from everyone whom I met and, as one of the governors said, ‘there was a real buzz about the place’. Having strong links with what the children affectionately called ‘big LIPA’, the passion for the performing arts runs throughout the school. The school has its own LIPA song written to the tune of the Yellow Submarine. One line particularly resonated which was; ‘Mr Parker is the Head but the children lead the way’. As a school that is evolving with two new classes joining each year, the children are indeed instrumental in ensuring that everyone is on this adventure together; everyone has a voice and an active part in ensuring the school continues to thrive.
Sources of Evidence
The assessment was a one day visit during which I received a tour of the school but also visited the LIPA sixth form and university. I also had the privilege of meeting with the founding Principal and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Featherstone-Witty. He spoke to me about how his passion for LIPA has been instrumental in the development of the free school. It was refreshing to hear his philosophy for education and how he is fully supporting the school in its inclusive journey. Staff from the sixth form are also involved and together they are creating a well-rounded education steeped in rich project-based learning opportunities. Children are flourishing here and have a fantastic learning journey that will open the door to a wealth of opportunities.
The timetable for the day allowed me to see the school in action and verify the wealth of evidence in the SER document. The Headteacher and SENDco had willingly given up their day to let me see every part of the school and talk through the wonderful journey they have been on from when the school first opened.
A Wealth of Space
The school has a wealth of space and is readying itself for the introduction of two new classes each year. It is well resourced and also has the enviable problem of having ‘too much’ space. This offers an exciting challenge of how the school can utilise that space and enhance the inclusive facilities that it already hosts. Plans for a sensory room are already in place and there is so much potential here in such a wonderful building full of character. The school realises this is a great opportunity and has a strong desire to continue to welcome all children and their families with open arms, regardless of what their barriers to learning may be.
IQM Audit Document
The IQM Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school is extremely comprehensive and this has resulted in an honest and reflective audit of best practice. The school is very much outward facing and open to seeking new ideas that will support them in their journey as they grow as a school. However, there is so much here already that the school can offer and it succeeds in ensuring that all pupils are fully included. Parents and children that I spoke to during my visit, fully endorse this and speak passionately about the school and the LIPA values which are at the heart of all that they do.
High Aspirations for Pupils
The school has high aspirations for all its pupils and the project-based learning approach to the curriculum offers the children the chance to apply what they learn to real-life experiences and provides an all-around enriching education. The children spoke passionately about this and the events that had culminated from the different projects. There is a strong values’ focus that is developing the children as people. Staff also talked about children having a voice and they are determined that this is listened to but, more importantly, acted upon.
There is a measurable commitment to make sure that every child achieves at LIPA. This is part of the school culture and governors commented on the fact that they always hear staff talking in conversation about how they can make things even better for the children. The school is still on a journey to becoming full to capacity but moreover, they are on an exciting journey that is ensuring learning is purposeful. The clock in the room in which I was based said ‘making memories by the hour’. LIPA Primary School does this every minute of every day for the children here. Their journey through the IQM is delivering outstanding practice within the school and demonstrating the on-going commitment to inclusion. I am confident that as the school continues its growth, it has the capacity to sustain and develop inclusive practice.
A Privilege and a Pleasure
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to visit LIPA. I would like to thank the whole school community for the honesty, warmth and passion that they showed during my visit. Together they are ensuring that the children have best possible start in their educational journey.
A Strong Inclusive Ethos
I am strongly of the opinion that LIPA Primary School fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark assessment. It is remarkable just how strong the inclusive ethos is in a school that it still in its infancy. In view of this, I would strongly recommend that the school consider continuing its IQM journey and look ahead to Centre of Excellence status. With their fresh and open outlook to education, exciting times await the children here. This would be subject to the inclusion within its plans of the appropriate areas for development and completion of the centre of excellence documentation. The school would need to agree to work within a cluster of schools on their Inclusion Quality Mark journey, sharing good practice and meeting together three times a year. If the school chooses to pursue this status and it were to be awarded, then the school would be subject to an annual review from this point forwards.
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.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.