Nutgrove Methodist Primary, St Helens in Merseyside, part of the Epworth Education Trust, has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Flagship status for the first time.
Warm, Welcoming School
“Family” is the essence of Nutgrove Methodist Primary School. The common, consistent theme is the family ethos and the Methodist values which encompass all areas of school life and makes this school a truly special place to be. Visitors to Nutgrove are warmly welcomed by all in the school community. Staff and pupils alike are happy being at Nutgrove. All interactions observed during the review day amongst staff, pupils, parents, and governors were positive. There is a tangibly happy atmosphere. The school’s core values radiate inclusivity and are a strong presence, underpinning everything that the school is about.
Every Child is Everyone’s Responsibility
The special ethos created at the school is embraced and celebrated by the new Trust. The Trust’s CEO shares the same inclusive ethos. She describes the all-encompassing approach at Nutgrove, as
“no matter what, everybody is included”
and that inclusivity forms a large part of the Methodist Church values. Although they are a church school, the admissions criteria are not religion-based, and the CEO explains that
“everybody is welcome.”
Their family ethos typifies inclusivity and is a clear strength of the school. They have a saying in the Trust that
“every child is everyone’s responsibility.”
There is a genuine, collective sense of responsibility to provide the best education for all children.
Leaders are clear that the school is highly aspirational. They are ambitious about not just pupils’ outcomes but also their character development. It is important to Nutgrove staff that all children leave them as
“well-grounded, good citizens”
who are prepared to flourish in society. They have high goals for all in the community. The staff aim to
“enable everybody to succeed, no matter what their starting points are”
“help them on their journey to be successful”
in the future. This commitment is epitomised through the school’s motto
“my best, always, everywhere”
which is displayed across the school building, the school website and included in all literature.
Holistic Educational Experience
Over the past 12 months, there has been a focus on developing the outdoor provision at Nutgrove. Different zones were created to cater for all pupils’ interests with a variety of areas for pupils to enjoy during break and lunch times, including reading sheds, sports and games areas, a ball pen, a large whiteboard, a Lego activity corner and tables for drawing and writing. The school benefits from large outdoor spaces including an outdoor trail. The external space in EYFS has recently been redesigned and a new ‘Shine’ provision garden has been created. The Headteacher is hoping to acquire Lottery Funding to purchase land for a Forest School provision in the future. The importance that Leaders place on ensuring the outdoor areas provide a wide range of activities for all pupils’ interests, including the significant amount of budget assigned to achieving this, demonstrates their inclusive nature and desire to provide a holistic educational experience.
Supporting Children Through Play
To support pupils who were struggling to regulate their behaviour following periods of disruption due to the pandemic, particularly during unstructured times, the school enlisted the support of the Behaviour Improvement Team from the Local Authority. Staff have undertaken CPD to look at wider strategies as well as working with the Team to support pupils on an individual basis. To further support the children during unstructured times, Nutgrove staff have had a focus on training during staff meetings to lead structured play activities. This includes the school caretaker, who runs martial arts classes outside of school. He now leads a variety of sports activities in the ball-pen during break times. The Deputy Headteacher describes the positive impact this has had on behaviour due to
Senior Leadership’s Continued Commitment to Supporting Staff
“the respect and positive energy he brings.”
Staff wellbeing is a key priority for Trust Directors and the Senior Leadership Team. The two main areas of focus during periods of remote learning were health and safety and wellbeing. Leaders are mindful of staff wellbeing when they make decisions and are proactive in finding ways to help staff balance their work and home lives. There is a Staff Forum for a range of stakeholders to meet and work with the Trust’s CEO to say what is important to them, which is subsequently discussed at the Headteachers’ meeting. The Trust’s ‘wellbeing offer’ was approved by the Trust Board in July. Incorporated into the offer is a commitment to staff to allow them to have one wellbeing day per year, which they can take off for whatever reason they choose.
The parents spoken to as part of the review visit were overwhelmingly positive about the school and staff. One parent explained how the staff
“concentrate on everything for each individual child.”
They recognise children’s unique talents and encourage them to pursue their areas of interest and aspiration. The school is responsive to parents and the communication between home and school is excellent. Pupils with additional needs are well-supported. Parents of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) praise the staff highly, particularly the SENDCo, appointed to post during the last academic year. One parent of a child with SEN talked about the provision plan which is reviewed and amended weekly. Her child is given new, quantifiable targets each week along with any adjustments which will be made in the classroom to support her in achieving them. Parents contribute to the weekly provision plan and communicate any relevant information from what they have observed at home. This sharp focus on progress, and the constant reviewing of the support, ensures that pupils with SEN thrive.
All pupils spoken to during the review were also overwhelmingly positive about the school. They are proud of Nutgrove and talk about how
“welcoming and kind everyone is.”
In fact, when asked what they would change about the school if they were Headteacher, they unanimously said “nothing” and that the school is
“perfect as it is.”
During a learning walk, all pupils were engaged in their learning and their behaviour was excellent. The Year Six pupils who conducted the tour of the school were very friendly, passionate, and articulate. The reception children have settled in well and appeared confident, independent, and happy. A real love of reading is evident through the different dialogues with pupils and the displays throughout the school. Pupils at Nutgrove are wonderful ambassadors for the school and its family ethos.
Inclusion for All Exemplified
It is clear from the review visit that Nutgrove Methodist Primary School continues to prioritise inclusion and that Leaders have further enhanced their excellent inclusive practices. The staff are reflective practitioners who are continually evolving to be the best they can be. The new curriculum has been well-planned and will provide exciting learning opportunities to develop pupils’ wider understanding and knowledge of culture, diversity, and global citizenship. Throughout the pandemic, there has been no lowering of standards with regards to the overall provision. Pupils continue to make good progress academically as well as developing the wider skills they acquire through the holistic curriculum. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Nutgrove Methodist Primary School. All staff, parents, governors, and pupils were extremely friendly and welcoming. There is a genuine family culture, and the school seems to be a very happy place for all. It is clear from the review process that the team at Nutgrove continue to be fully committed to inclusive practice.
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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