Meadowside Community Primary and Nursery School in Warrington achieves Flagship School status.
Going from Strength to Strength
Meadowside has continued to go from strength to strength on their Centre of Excellence journey and it was lovely to see the progress over the last 12 months. Since the last review, the school has developed strong practice through their cluster which has benefited a number of school staff with visits to schools beyond their local authority.
The school has found the IQM cluster groups beneficial in supporting their inclusive journey. They have implemented a new tracking system for SEND pupils which was shared at a cluster meeting and cascaded information through staff meetings and training to develop phonics and reading skills across school. Other initiatives such as the ‘calm brain’ training has been adapted with Meadowside strengthening their provision of sensory circuit’s through the installation of a new activity path situated in the welfare corridor.
No Intention of Standing Still
Thank you to the team for preparing so thoroughly for the online assessment day and for making representatives from the school community available to speak to. The level of evidence presented enhanced the quality of the assessment and gave a holistic picture of the journey Meadowside has continued on. It has been lovely to watch the school grow through their IQM journey and it is clear that they have no intention of standing still.
It was exciting to hear the developments of the oracy project which has been underpinned with EEF research ‘Oral Language interventions’ in order to develop a shared language for oracy across the school. This is a key part of the school’s plan to move forward with their Flagship application. The aim is to further develop speech, language and communication; vocabulary and oracy skills of all children within the school community – in conjunction with development of reading skills. The school will continue to build on the speech, language and oracy work started during 2019/20 as part of their ongoing work as a Centre of Excellence. Moving forward, they have plans to focus further on vocabulary development through introduction of language programmes such as ‘Word Aware’ throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1 and ‘Word Warriors’ throughout Key Stage 1 & 2. The school is also intending on introducing Makaton as an additional communication tool – introduced initially in Early Years and the KS1 Development Centre but widening to the whole school community over time.
Voice 21 Oracy School Programme
In the past 12 months, the school has found that being involved in the Voice21 Oracy School programme has enabled school staff to undergo whole school training and Key Stage planning sessions, to better understand the value of oracy in the classroom; the oracy framework and benchmarks. Oracy skills are planned, modelled and scaffolded to enable the children to use talk effectively within the classroom to deepen and develop their subject knowledge; their understanding of themselves, other people and the world around them. They have many opportunities to further develop oracy which permeates all aspects of school life such as assemblies and home-learning activities – which has been especially relevant during the current lock-down situation.
Talk4Writing is now firmly embedded into the curriculum across the school and provides a whole school approach to interaction with a variety of genres of text. It enables children to internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’ as well as close reading. This multi-sensory approach to writing; beginning with oral rehearsal of text scaffolds, the writing process and is beginning to impact on the quality and independence of the children’s writing. P4C sessions are also embedded into the whole school curriculum. The curriculum for each year group is designed around a central ‘Philosophical question’ – such as ‘What does it mean to belong?’ –this ‘links our thinking’ and enables the children to begin to think deeply, ask intelligent questions and to debate social and moral issues.
Parents Play a Key Part
Parents continue to play a key part in the school’s inclusive practice. There were many strong examples given during the Centre of Excellence review such as the Class Dojo interaction throughout lockdown which has been invaluable to parents who said,
“Sometimes I struggled with communication with the school, but I have noticed that you have all worked hard and pulled together since the lockdown. I am so pleased with the way I have had communication through Dojo and being able to ‘speak’ to teachers has been really good.”
Commitment and Dedication
“As a parent (and Governor) seeing how the school has been handling all of this has been another excellent example of the commitment and dedication from the school’s staff to the education of the children and the health and safety of all involved.”
Newly Established Welfare Team
The newly established Welfare Team has worked tirelessly to develop strong links with parents and have an open-door policy for parents. Introduction of ‘You ask…we did’ – evidences communication between parents and the Welfare Team – Parents have asked for “more coffee mornings to talk to other parents and get to know the staff” and “please get more professionals to attend coffee mornings e.g. OT/ADHD nurse.”
Relationships with Parents are Important
The relationship the school has with parents has always been at the forefront of everything they do. As a result of their continued efforts that have been embedded over time, the school is seeing a much higher-level of engagement. In January, the school ran a ‘Rainbow Reflexive relaxation’ course for a group of parents of children who displayed some challenging behaviours. The course taught parents how to use hand and foot massage to support their child to remain calm. The English Breakfast initiative which was set to run for a set period has been encouraged to be extended with some of the parents who attended, now coming into school as volunteers.
The Friends of Meadowside
Linked to this is the school’s community links. The Friends of Meadowside (FOM) continue to utilise a space within school to run their successful ‘welfare shop’ providing essential goods and uniform to parents. Plans are also in place to open a second shop on the school site to make this even more accessible for all families. The school caretaker has been part of the Helping Hands project in the community during lockdown helping vulnerable people, all of which is testament to the willingness of Meadowside to support their wider community.
Froggy Forest is used more widely and more regularly as part of regular learning sessions. It has been extensively developed, in recent months, to support future engagement with the area. Each class has their own planter which can be used to grow things and there is also the possibility of a grant to develop this outdoor space further. It is planned that following the return to school, from lockdown, Froggy Forest will be used even more extensively for outdoor learning which will directly benefit so many children.
The reputation of the school continues to grow beyond their immediate locality. They are regularly contacted for availability to take on student teachers through their wider family of schools through the Trust which they are now a part of. Meadowside is hoping to develop their SEN outreach even further to support other schools beyond their own local authority.
Governors Play an Active Role
Governors all continue to play an active role in the life of the school and despite there being changes to governance this year, there is still evidence of an excellent knowledge of the school community and context. Governors state,
“It has been inspiring to see the ways in which the staff and pupils have approached communication and inclusion. I have been impressed by the coordinated strategy adopted by all – whether it be word displays in classrooms or pupils talking about their developing communication skills.”
Inclusion Permeates All Aspects of School Life
There have been some new changes this year with a new SEND Governor so the school is continuing to embed these in order that they have a deeper understanding of how inclusion permeates all aspects of school life. In terms of supporting the school’s IQM journey, the ‘More Able’ link Governor meets regularly with the Lead Teacher to discuss the progress of the Action Plan. The discussions are productive and provide an effective level of challenge. The Curriculum committee has been set up and meets on a regular basis with the Deputy Headteacher and, as a result, have a stronger awareness of the curriculum.
Continuing to Move Forward
It was evident from this review that the school have continued to move forward with their high aspirations for all children and their commitment to move forward as a Flagship school is evident. I have no doubt that the school will be successful due to their whole school atmosphere of inclusion and aspiration for all within a warm family environment that reaches out to the community too. As always, it has been a pleasure to continue to be a part of this evolving journey and a huge thank you to all the staff and children for their ongoing commitment and dedication to their inclusion journey.
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