Noel Park Primary School in Haringey achieves Centre of Excellence status.
Noel Park Primary School is part of the Academies Enterprise (AET) and is situated at the heart of the Noel Park estate and serves a diverse community. Most of the pupils who attend the school have English as an additional language (81%) with high levels of mobility with approximately 50 new admissions every academic year. The vast majority of the new admissions are new to English and some are new to schooling. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils is above the national average. The school is in the top 20% of schools nationally for the proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language. Noel Park Primary is in the top 20% of schools nationally for deprivation. The school is in the lowest 20% of all schools nationally for the proportion of pupils with SEND support and the proportion of pupils with an education, health and care plan is below the national average.
The school accommodates an increasing number of pupils from single-parent families where someone has suffered from domestic violence. There is a local issue of both knife and gun crime in the area. However, despite these local challenges, the school provides an outstanding education that motivates and inspires pupils to become confident, independent and resilient learners. The school’s recent OFSTED report in March 2019 which graded the school as Outstanding, states, “Pupils are exceptionally well prepared for life in modern Britain. They demonstrate an extremely mature understanding of diversity, tolerance and respect.”
A Safe, Stimulating and Supportive Atmosphere
Noel Park Primary School is very welcoming and the very warm, friendly ethos of the school is apparent from the outset. There is a calm, happy, purposeful atmosphere and the environment is bright and very positive throughout the school with beautiful displays in the corridors, halls and classrooms. The staff have created a safe, stimulating and supportive atmosphere where pupils can love life, learning and play.
Supportive, Caring, Inclusive Framework
The Executive Principal together with the SEND team and leadership team, set the tone for the supportive, caring, inclusive framework. They are committed to helping every pupil succeed, whatever their background or ability. Leaders at all levels lead by positive example with very high ambitions for their pupils and believe all pupils can succeed while ensuring all aspects of inclusion and pupils’ individual needs are focused on. The school’s has high aspirations for its pupils and academically, the school continues to excel year on year. End of year attainment in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 is above national averages for all subjects for all groups of pupils.
A Child-Centred Focus
Noel Park Primary School has a child-centred focus to education with a curriculum that inspires, motivates and empowers the pupils to develop a resilient, independent, confident learners who are fully prepared for life in modern Britain and the wider world.
Core Values are Fully Embedded
During the assessment it was clear that the school’s core values are fully embedded in the heart of the school:
• Be unusually brave – (Not to be afraid to challenge wrongs, to make the right call, even when it is both unusual and difficult to do so).
• Discover what’s possible – (Supporting pupils to discover a world of possibilities and opportunities).
• Push the limits – (Not to settle for less than excellent and to overcome any self-imposed limits.
• Be big hearted – (Treat each other with kindness, warmth and care, believing that everybody matters and believing in one another).
A Highly Inclusive School
The pupils at Noel Park Primary School are fortunate to belong to such a highly inclusive school. They are happy, respected and valued by all the staff. The Executive Principal, together with the Vice Principal/Head of Inclusion and the Leadership Team, share an inclusive ethos which pervades throughout the school. The pupils are strongly supported in all areas of the curriculum by passionate and dedicated staff led by strong leaders who share a determination that all stakeholders should be listened to and work relentlessly to provide equality of learning opportunities for all pupils in school regardless of gender, race, age or disability. Staff are committed to providing equal opportunities for the academic curriculum, sport, music and the arts to enrich the lives and better the chances of the pupils in their care. This extends to the wider curriculum, after school enrichment clubs and educational visits. There are high expectations for every pupil to achieve their best. The school is an important part of its community and it ensures that the languages and cultures of the pupils are highlighted, celebrated and built upon throughout the school.
Imaginative and Needs-Led Teaching
The staff have created a warm, friendly and welcoming place where everybody has a sense of purpose. The pupils have confidence in their teachers and support staff and know their needs will be met. They feel inspired in their learning by the imaginative and needs-led teaching. The staff are effective at delivering tailormade provisions and these personalised programmes enable pupils to make strong progress across the curriculum regardless of starting points. Teachers have high expectations for all pupils and provide calm and purposeful environments for pupils to learn and to develop their skills across the curriculum.
A Comprehensive CPD Programme
The school provides a comprehensive CPD programme for both teachers and support staff. Throughout the year there is bespoke training for the 1:1 staff as well as specific training for all staff on SEMH, The Autistic friendly classroom and how pupils acquire language. The support staff make an invaluable contribution in class and provide interventions for individuals and groups where necessary. The dedicated LSAs with whom I spoke to on the day of the assessment spoke passionately about the school and felt proud to work at Noel Park. They are a highly skilled team who know the pupils they support well and are in tune with their needs and respond to those learning needs in a timely and well managed way. One LSA said, “At Noel Park everyone is respected and listened to. There is an inclusive ethos which lives and breathes in every corner of the school. We have the children’s best interests at the forefront of everything we do, so that we can make every child shine!”
A Real Partnership with Parents
Parents feel that they are listened to and the school has fostered a real partnership ensuring both parties share the process of educating their children. Parents commented that communication between home and school is very good. If parents have any concerns, they are confident that staff will take them seriously and act immediately. One parent spoke eloquently about the progress her son had made at school and appreciated the support given by the very approachable staff. She stated that,
“This is a great school and the staff provide fantastic 1:1 support. I have really appreciated that during the period of lockdown, I have had a phone call from the school more or less daily to find out how things are going and how my son is which is really helpful!”
Parents value the fact that the school invites them in throughout the year so that they can find out more about what a learner experiences at Noel Park Primary. The day-to-day use of Twitter, the school website, newsletters and via the use of the school app, parents are kept fully informed of the activities in the school. This has been particularly helpful for parents during the lockdown due to the global pandemic.
Positive Attitudes of Pupils
Pupils felt that they were supported appropriately in the lessons and that their teachers and teaching assistants had high expectations of them with differentiated challenges. As a result of the planning of the curriculum and an inviting environment, pupils’ attitudes across the school were very positive. The pupils were extremely respectful of each other, happy, polite, articulate, friendly and enthusiastic. They speak very highly of their school and its staff and they know that they are listened to and cared for. There are opportunities for pupils to take on roles of responsibility in the school including the School Council, Eco-Council, playground buddies. One child said,
“We are all treated equally and with respect. At Noel Park we are ‘remarkable’ because we all look after each other”.
Fully Committed Governors
Governors are fully committed to the school’s vision and they play a very positive, active and supportive role in the school. They have a range of skills and expertise which they use effectively to ensure that all pupils are safe and receive a high-quality education. Governors are knowledgeable about the risks faced by the pupils in the local community and how to ensure that pupils are well protected and kept safe. Regular monitoring in the way of OFSTED style ‘deep dives’ in different areas of the curriculum are undertaken by governors and this ensures that the school continues to develop and improve its practice. These robust procedures enable the governors to hold leaders to account for their actions effectively. As a result, the governors provide a high-level of challenge and support for leaders.
A Genuine Sense of Team Effort
All the staff, parents, governors and pupils spoken to during the assessment were extremely positive about the school’s work. There is a very genuine sense of team effort here, of mutual support, of listening, discussing and of including everyone.
High Aspirations and Expectations
Exceptional features of this school include the very strong, collaborative leadership leading to an excellent staff team. This is coupled with exemplary pupil behaviour and attitudes together with excellent teaching and learning, high aspirations and expectations for all pupils within an inclusive framework.
The second day of the virtual assessment took place on 14th January 2021 with school leaders sharing the work they have been doing with pupils, families and the community to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on pupils’ social, emotional, mental and academic development. In addition, the second day of the assessment focused on how school leaders have actively ensured that staff are supported in their work-life balance, well-being and continuous professional development under the challenging circumstances of a pandemic.
A Realistic Covid-19 Recovery Plan
Leaders at Noel Park have implemented a realistic Covid-19 Recovery Plan with appropriate timescales. Routines and expectations have been re-established through written communication with parents and pupils through letters and videos, both before the school reopened and during reopening; and during a third national lockdown. Teachers have ensured that the pupils in their care have received a balanced curriculum which takes into account the specific learning needs of different groups of pupils. They have actively taken into account the plethora of personal circumstances such as sensory needs, anxiety and friendship groups. Leaders have responded to differences in learning through rigorous assessments of pupils’ academic attainment and mental well-being, as well as regular reviews of work undertaken at home. The school has ensured that all pupils have devices like Chromebooks and iPads through the national catch-up funding programme to enable all pupils to access the teaching that is provided by the school team. Learning has remained central on the school agenda and leaders have ensured that a broad, balanced and bespoke curriculum has been provided for both those pupils who are in school and those who are at home. The school’s online learning platform has ensured that students learn daily through high quality resources, teaching and the precise tracking of engagement.
Successfully Engaging with Families
Meetings with parents on the second day of the assessment demonstrated how successful the school has been in engaging with families and children with daily phone calls and staff ensuring that the bottom 20% of pupils who have been identified for support in reading have been heard to read every day. Parents have really appreciated this, together with the work that is supplied by the school, for their children. The use of Seesaw has been instrumental in enabling pupils to share their work with teachers providing regular feedback to support next steps in learning. The school continues to ensure that SEND pupils and those who are disadvantaged or have fallen behind are provided with bespoke additional support.
A Culture of Knowledge Sharing
Leaders have continuously maintained high levels of quality professional development for staff, including support staff. The use of SEND experts is highly effective and increases capacity for improvement and support for SEND pupils with different needs. School leaders are mindful of staff work-life balance and there are appropriate strategies in place to ensure that all members of the school team have opportunities to express any concerns or worries, together with being linked with a well-being buddy. Teachers appreciate that leaders have an open-door policy and there is a ‘family’ feel to the school where everyone feels confident to ask for help and support. There is a real culture of knowledge sharing and a respect for each other’s skills within the whole school team. Online safety is a high priority and the school has made sure that pupils are given regular reminders and updates on keeping safe whilst online. In addition, parents have also been given guidance on how to ensure that their children keep safe whilst on the internet.
Resilience and Fortitude
Conversations with pupils demonstrated their enjoyment for learning and their positive approach to the situation they faced during this pandemic. They showed resilience and fortitude in their approach to learning. Pupils are rightly proud of their school and enjoy the opportunities which are given despite the lockdown. For example, they spoke highly of the virtual extra-curricular activities that the school continues to provide.
Providing Challenge and Support
Governors are highly skilled in continuing to provide leaders with both challenge and support and have actively engaged with ensuring that a high-quality curriculum has been provided for all pupils including SEND and the most vulnerable within the school. The Executive Principal has a clear vision for the school post COVID which is based on the needs of the pupils, staff and community. He is ably supported by a strong team who are all relentless in continuing to develop a high-quality education for all its pupils including SEND, EAL and the most vulnerable.
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