Middle Park Primary School in Greenwich achieves the Inclusive School Award for the second time.
Middle Park Primary School is a larger than average primary school serving a diverse area. Around half of the children are from ethnic minority backgrounds, with approximately a quarter of pupils having EAL, the rest are of White British origin. The percentage of SEND children is higher than the national average, as is the number of children in receipt of Pupil Premium funding. Despite the context, outcomes for pupils are broadly in line with national expectations and sometimes above. This is achieved as a result of the school’s determination, systems and procedures to ensure a robust approach in relation to the removal of barriers to learning, which may exist for individual pupils. Staff have an excellent knowledge of the children and therefore meet their needs.
Strong Inclusive Culture
A very strong inclusive culture underpins all that the school strives to achieve and is clearly communicated by the Headteacher and the SLT. The principle of equality of opportunity is apparent in all planning and ensures that the school is focussed on each child achieving their full potential. This relates to both academic achievement and in the children’s personal and social development.
Extremely Committed Staff
The staff are extremely committed to the school and many are long serving. The Headteacher has effectively retained key staff as opportunities have been provided for them to develop their careers within the school, for example, as Lead Practitioners. This also ensures that the quality of teaching remains high, as excellent practice is modelled and shared. Teachers interviewed on the day, described the coaching ethos which exists within the school. They valued the support they received and commented on both the formal and informal methods of entering into professional dialogue. Staff are encouraged to experiment, explore and take risks. Differences are celebrated in relation to the adults and the children. The range of staff skills are fully utilised and they are encouraged to embrace individuality, a common requirement is that all classroom environments and teaching is of high quality.
Excellent teamwork is apparent across all areas of school life, the staff are dedicated in their united aim of caring about every child’s future. The Headteacher summed up the collective feeling by saying,
“Our children are special and get under our skin.”
Quite simply, strong inclusive relationships are the firm foundation for everything undertaken and the children know that they are in safe hands. As a consequence the pupils give their very best and this in turn leads to the school’s success.
Tracking and Monitoring
Middle Park Primary has a large range of systems, procedures, policies and initiatives to ensure that the school stays on track and continues to serve the diverse needs of pupils. The intense analysis undertaken at a variety of levels, alerts the staff when any child is in danger of falling behind. Whilst much of the overview data is scrutinised by the senior team, the class teachers also have a high level of awareness of how it translates to both their class as a whole and in relation to individual pupils. A range of interventions take place, both within the class and through focussed sessions for individuals or groups. The support staff fulfil a key role in providing ongoing guidance and encouragement for targeted pupils and work very closely with the class teachers in this respect.
Governors are a Strength of the School
The Governing Body is a strength of the school and is highly engaged with inclusive issues, they have an active role in measuring the impact of the provision for SEND and disadvantaged pupils and also track the progress of the higher attaining pupils. They take their role of ‘critical friend’ very seriously and have close working, supportive relationships with the Leadership team. They could also give examples of when they had challenged the school, leading to improved provision. In the 2019 Ofsted report the team described them as “experienced, proactive and knowledgeable.”
The school continually evolves and immerses itself in the exploration of pedagogy. Initiatives which are right for the school and are believed to have the potential for further improving the provision, are embraced. In this respect, the school has adopted a ‘Thinking Skills’ agenda, where skills are made explicit to the children. Learning questions are posed at the start of lessons which encourage children to respond and explain their views. All opinions are valid and there are no right or wrong answers. This builds the confidence of pupils and extends talking time, also developing oracy. The teachers are well aware that they are supporting the children to gain life skills and take the responsibility of preparing them for the future very seriously. They stated
“we care about their futures and their dreams. We are always thinking about how the learning will impact on their lifelong learning.”
A Holistic Approach
A holistic approach has ensured that the children receive excellent support for their social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). Their wellbeing is extremely important to the staff and they are determined that the children should be happy and fulfilled regardless of their background or circumstances. In relation to this, the PSHE curriculum is continually audited and related initiatives are explored. In this respect the ‘Chimp Paradox’ has been implemented, which raises awareness of emotions such as anger, fear, joy and sadness. This has given the children and staff the vocabulary to discuss and understand.
Supporting Children and Their Families
During the lockdown period, the same dedication from the staff and principles of inclusion have been applied to the support of the children, families and the community. The staff have engaged with the families through regular phone calls and visits, they have ensured that all the families have been able to support their child’s home learning which has sometimes led to the children being provided with laptops so that they could access online learning. The teachers have also been proactive in producing packs and providing for online learning, which even included a Zoom Book Club. Vitally important to the staff, however, has been to monitor the welfare of the families during this period. Every attempt has been made to ensure that every means of support possible has been given. Staff have continued to track vulnerable children building on existing knowledge of families. This has been much appreciated by families and the already excellent relationships between home and school have been further developed.
Supporting their Community
Staff also took over the running of the local food bank, once the community centre was closed, providing a vital service for the whole community. During the first four weeks of the pandemic, the staff had provided day care for vulnerable children and also provided them with three meals a day. Help has also been given to targeted families, before the government voucher scheme was fully activated, providing essential food supplies where necessary. This shows the determination of staff to support families as a whole and their care of the community.
Helping Children to Feel Safe and Secure
The children of key workers and vulnerable children have remained in school throughout and more recently certain phased year groups. The school has been successful now in encouraging approximately 60% of the pupils back. Meticulous planning has been put in place to ensure that the school meets the latest government guidelines. Staff have worked closely with the school community in order to reassure and support their natural apprehensions. The Headteacher and Senior Leaders are aware that the children, staff and community will continue to need support in September. There is an understanding of the need for a period of settling and assessment. In this respect, all children will be returning to school to join their previous class teacher, in their former classroom. This thoughtful plan will enable children to feel safe and secure, whilst they undergo the transition period while normal routines are re-forming.
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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