Norbury School is a three-form entry Primary in Harrow and is situated close to the main town centre. Mobility continues to be a real challenge for the school. For example, 38 children have left since September 2023 and 138 have arrived since that date. The council has created Asylum Seeker Accommodation in the town centre and Norbury is the closest school. Once leave to stay is granted, families have 48 hours to leave the accommodation and as there is little housing available in Harrow, this inevitably means leaving the area. Currently, there are 699 pupils on roll. The number of pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL) remains high. There are 117 Pupil Premium (PP) pupils, 14 pupils have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) with another 11 in process and currently there are 11 child protection cases.
Waiting in reception, our Assessor was aware of the school’s ethos. There was a poster that showed the school’s vision of a world in a school learning together. This statement is printed on the pupils’ sweatshirts. There was a display with the heading, ‘individually unique, together complete’ and under it, written in the many home languages, was the word ‘unique’. This display had a profound impact on our Assessor as the message was compelling; this school believes in and demonstrates inclusion.
Clear Vision for Inclusion
The Headteacher has a clear vision for inclusion that inspires and motivates staff. Her vision encompasses the pupils, parents and staff. She is clear about the challenges that face the school and accepts that some things are beyond their control. To help manage the introduction of new pupils, senior leaders hold meetings each Friday where they aim to collect as much information as possible about the child and family. This is shared with staff before the end of the day and in most cases, support for both learning and pastoral care are highlighted. This leads to positive starts on Monday morning, with class teachers fully informed and ready to support individual pupils.
All staff display positivity, enthusiasm and commitment to doing the best for pupils. They are very aware of the evolving picture and how the needs of the pupils are becoming much more complex. One teacher spoke about thinking about those pupils who may not be with them for long and so considering what would be the basics that need to be covered so that pupil could make the best possible start at the next school. Communication in the school is impressive. Staff said how useful they found the Pupil Updates in the Tuesday staff meeting. This meant that if they came across a pupil at lunchtime, for example, they would know how to approach and support them.
Staff appreciate the time given to research and the importance of using research to improve the outcomes for pupils. One Early Career Teacher (ECT) said how she was surprised to be asked to share her research with the whole staff, thinking that would she have anything to share with more experienced staff. She did have insight to share and it was welcomed by her colleagues. The school does have seven ECTs and so several members of staff are mentors. This is seen as an excellent opportunity for both ECTs and mentors, with both being able to learn from each other.
Everyone is Equal
The staff work together as a team, leaving no one on their own. Our Assessor was told that everyone was equal and that they all learned from each other. Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time is spent in year group teams so that planning can be done collectively. Curriculum outcomes are discussed as long-term goals for individual pupils, ensuring that learning journeys are effective for individual pupils. There is no doubt that staff have a sense of belonging and feel valued and appreciated. Senior leaders follow a ‘no blame’ approach which means that asking for help is seen as a strength and not a weakness. The supportive approach is, what do they need from us?
The school invests in support for the pupils and their families. The work of the Parent Ambassadors is admirable as they breach the gap between school and home. Our Assessor heard about the Romanian Day that was held in December and heard how families attended the Stay and Play Sessions on a Friday morning as they knew someone was there who could speak their language.
The Parent Ambassadors do more than just support in school. They help with applications, attend doctor’s appointments with parents, explain what buses to catch, support with phone calls etc. In the same way, the school’s Pastoral Team do all they can to support families and pupils. They know the pupils and their families and parents told me that they were always positive and ready to listen and offer help and advice. The staff also spoke very highly of this team and said how they were available to them as well as parents and pupils. The school makes excellent use of a counsellor, play therapist and speech and language therapist but to have such a strong pastoral team is a real asset.
Our Assessor was lucky to be joined on the school tour by two Year 5 pupils and so they could see the school through their eyes. The first thing the pupils explained was the display on Zones of Regulation. They had the vocabulary to explain their thoughts and feelings and demonstrated their learning about managing feelings. Our Assessor saw how this work was begun in the Nursery and then continued in every class throughout the year groups. The school places real emphasis on understanding how pupils are feeling and empowering them with strategies to help them de-escalate. The pupils pointed out displays in the corridors that highlighted the work done in classes and they were knowledgeable about the work. In the Nursery, there was evidence of how proactive the school is. Harrow has the highest percentage in London, of children having to undergo hospitalisation and general anaesthetics for tooth extraction, so the pupils now have toothbrushes there and twice a week are taught how to clean their teeth.
Our Assessor saw pupils engaged in their learning and how positive the relationships are between staff and pupils, with staff taking the time to listen. The tour guides showed our Assessor the Sunshine Room and explained how the counsellor came in once a week and pointed out the boxes where pupils could self-refer. They were proud of the work they do as support going into classes for Mindfulness as well as the work done by the Peer Mediators. They showed the playground and were very aware of the different opportunities offered by the outdoor gym, the courts and how there was girl-only football one day a week. They were excellent guides, clearly demonstrating how proud they are of the school. The pupils are fortunate to have the breadth of experience offered by, for example, having a music room and Information Communications Technology (ICT) suite as well as specialist provision in sensory and interactive rooms. The curriculum on offer is broad and balanced and the aim is for it to be reflective of and responsive to pupil need.
Positive About the School
The group of pupils that our Assessor met with were equally positive about their school. They feel safe and looked after. They know who to speak to if they need help. What really struck our Assessor was how quickly several hands went up in response to my question, “what is good about your school?” Each one spoke about how good it was to have different people in the school and how they learn from each other and learn about different cultures. The HeadTeacher’s vision was clearly embodied by their responses. They spoke about how they liked the way that everyone took part in lessons and that they had opportunities to do lots of different things. The pupils said that the teachers are strict but fair and that if you make mistakes, the teachers help you to learn from them.
The parents could not speak highly enough of the school. They like how the Headteacher is out at the school gate and how pupils are welcomed individually. Staff know their children well and they praised the pastoral team and how they make good relationships with parents. Parents like the opportunities given for them to come into school, whether this might be information on phonics or Watching Wednesdays when they can go into class to see what the pupils are learning. Staff at the school are positive, communication is open and staff ‘hear and respond’.
Governors are aware of and support the school’s work on inclusion. They are given updates at each meeting and are encouraged to visit the school during the day and they try to attend at least three times a year. Ofsted wrote in the March 2023 Report, ‘Staff and pupils are committed to an ethos of care, respect and inclusion.’ Our Assessor saw and heard evidence of this.
Concluding our Assessor added, “At the start of my visit, the Headteacher said that the pupils were at the centre of everything and that indeed was what I saw and heard throughout the day. However, it is more than just the pupils as the staff seek to know, understand and support the needs of the parents and families as well. The commitment to inclusion is held by all adults in the school and their understanding of and desire to support individual need is commendable. I left the school inspired by what I had seen and heard. Thank you to all who gave up their time to speak to me. It was a real privilege for me to visit the school again and to see how they are progressing on their inclusion journey.”
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