Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn has achieved IQM Flagship Status.
Promoting Equality and Diversity
Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy is a school in Halton for students aged 11–18, with 1047 students on roll and is part of the Ormiston Trust family of academies. The school prides itself on outstanding pastoral care, actively promoting equality and diversity and is therefore an extremely welcoming, inclusive and caring school. This is a school where every child really does matter. It is also a school and a staff body that pride themselves on the excellent relationships within the OBA family of students and staff who work hard together to ensure that all students aspire to be the best they can be. The school motto, NURTURE · SUPPORT · EXCELLENCE for all students perfectly sums up their purpose; to create the conditions that offer and allow all students to flourish, regardless of circumstance or background; aiming for excellence in all that they do. This is a fact I can attest to from the evidence of the review and through discussions with staff and students and that all staff who work in the school should be proud of.
Students Feel Special
This is a school where every student really does matter and is made to feel special. The school and staff are committed to providing the very highest standard of teaching and learning experiences which not only develop the students’ knowledge and skills but also gives them the opportunities to excel in all areas of the curriculum and other learning opportunities as they move through the school. This is exemplified by the involvement of a number of Year 8 students in ‘The Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust’ Young Leaders’ Award programme based on the principles of faith, hope and action. Over the course of the year the group met to explore ideas and issues on how they felt they could change the Academy. They produced booklets exploring faith, leadership and community; they raised money for an independent charity chosen by themselves and the group was invited to Halton Council to give a presentation to the counsellors on their concerns regarding the problem of litter in the community. The council was so impressed by the group that they have been invited to go to The Houses of Parliament at an identified date in the future, a fantastic accolade for the school and the students, who clearly enjoyed their involvement and improved their self-confidence, as they were at pains to point out when they were spoken to as part of the review. The programme will be expanded with a new cohort next year and the current students will be used to develop leadership skills by helping to deliver the programme and support students taking part as part of the OBA student leadership framework.
The World of Work
Other opportunities available for students include: Work Experience Week that has been re-introduced for all students in Year 10 and Year 12 during the Summer Term. This is a great opportunity for students, a number of whom I met and who were clearly enthusiastic about their opportunity to experience the world of work.
Business breakfasts have continued to take place throughout the year and two new businesses, KDE and Curiosity Bookshop, have recently joined the group. The Academy has recently appointed a new Assistant Principal with responsibility for leading on business links. As a result, a recent project was run with O2 and local primary schools and small businesses were invited to and held stalls at the OBA Christmas Market with approximately 30 businesses attending.
OBA are also in the process of improving the quality of their Alternative Provision offer to students both within the academy and with external providers that will have immense benefits to students and the school as it comes to fruition and evolves over the next twelve months and beyond.
Everyone involved with the school including students and parents who are actively involved in the life of the academy, pull together to realise the school’s vision and understand that this is a superbly inclusive place to come to work and learn. This is a school that is clearly at the heart of its community where inclusion is a natural and intuitive part of what happens across the school, where students are encouraged to achieve their full potential, where everyone involved is committed to the inclusion of all students whatever it takes. It is a school that is constantly looking at ways to develop for the benefit of the students and families that it serves. An example of this is the way in which the school is working with a group of parents who find it difficult to engage with staff in school for a variety of reasons and have set up a ‘Parental Support Group’ led by a member of staff who has begun to meet once a month in a local café to talk and support each other. The school uses their mini bus to pick them up and facilitates the meeting, and although it is in its early stages they are already seeing the benefit as the parents become more confident and seek support from each other, but also with increased engagement with the school and with increased attendance from their children.
The Principal’s Drop-In Sessions
Another example that shows the superb level of support offered by OBA is ‘The Principal’s Drop-in session’ for parents held every half term where he is available to talk to parents about any issues, next steps are to hold Pastoral drop-ins as well next year.
Superb Care, Nurture and Support
Students are valued as individuals and this is encapsulated in everything that happens and was clearly seen on a tour of the school and through interactions during the review with staff and students, where inclusion is a natural part of the very fabric of the school. The school is a place where superb care, nurture and support naturally occur, within a calm, happy, stimulating, vibrant learning environment and through a focus on helping students to develop the skills they need to be effective independent learners and positive members of their community and society. Everyone I met was helpful and spoke very positively about their experiences at the school. With a tight focus on improving the attainment and wider outcomes for all students and not just promoting the learning of the lowest or highest achievers as with the previous review, it is clear to see that the school’s actions to care for pupils, in my judgement, is superb.
Very Positive Staff
The staff are exceptionally positive about the school and as a matter of course go the extra mile and beyond to ensure that the individual and groups of students’ needs are met and enhances the provision at the school. Staff I spoke to in meetings or around the school are justifiably proud of what they achieve both professionally and in terms of support for the students and for themselves. They work exceptionally hard to ensure that needs are met. It is very clear to see walking around the school that there is mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body; and a fantastic rapport between the staff and students, the students in the school and between the staff at all levels. There is a mutual regard and respect that shines though.
Staff led by the Principal and his senior team have a clear vision for the school and ‘their’ students and are themselves a part of ‘The OBA Family’. All staff clearly demonstrate a relentless determination and drive for all students to succeed. This came across very clearly in meetings and discussions with staff at all levels and with the students I met and talked to and is a very real strength of this outstanding and superbly inclusive school. Students have a clear enjoyment of learning about themselves and the world around them. This is apparent as soon as you step into the school and is highly visible in classrooms, on corridors and at social times as well. It is a real strength of the school and the staff should be commended for ensuring the students have this attitude to learning instilled in them.
The behaviour and safety of students seen during this review was exemplary. The students, their parents and the school should be immensely proud of the way they conduct themselves around the school. Students through a variety of different opportunities such as The Student Parliament who meet approximately every 2 weeks feedback to students on issues raised and report on outcomes for them. The enhanced use of student surveys with feedback to students takes place and OBA has introduced an assembly slot where this feedback can be shared with all students. Students are involved in staff interviews. Additionally, the Student Parliament team has consulted this term on items including; next year’s Student Planner; the introduction of re-usable hot drink cups for staff and water bottles for students; themed-menus in the dining room; the Academy’s new anti-bullying policy and collecting ideas for the upcoming school summer fair. Anti-bullying Ambassadors who have performed at the first Halton Safeguarding Conference on Anti-bullying in front of over a hundred guests will also be involved in the next ABA training event hosted by the school in September where they will have a key role in training new ambassadors and upskilling others. There is a very clear and strong student voice at OBA. Parents are well informed of their children’s progress and what they can do to support the school and their child’s development. This partnership is a very clear key strength of the school. Parents and governors are actively involved in shaping and developing the vision of the school and communicating extremely effectively through its excellent new website, letters, texts and through social media such as Twitter and Instagram.
E-Safety has a High Profile
E-safety also has a high profile at the school. In numerous discussions with pupils it is clear they understand how to stay safe online and through the use of technology due to the high-quality e-safety work that is done in-house and is continuing to develop to ensure students are safe and parents and families are kept up to date to ensure their children are safe at home. OBA should be commended for their proactive response in this area which is indicative of their inclusive practice.
Superb Inclusive Ethos
To summarise, it is very clear to see that the superb inclusive ethos of this school is very much a living, breathing and developing entity. At the heart of Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy inclusion is the inspiration and the aspirations of a highly cohesive group of senior leaders with shared values led by the Principal, and the ‘can do’ attitude they inspire in their carefully chosen staff, who continue to go from strength to strength. Staff morale is extremely high, and staff feel empowered to try out new ideas and to take calculated risks in the interests of the students in their care. They feel valued and subsequently are very loyal and proud to work at OBA. Life never stands still here as the school continues to move forward at a fast pace; always looking to the future to see what is over the horizon and what opportunities or threats might be heading their way. This means they are prepared and can make the right decisions and develop plans for the future. However, this does not mean they neglect the present. Students always come first, and their needs are the priority. Extremely positive relationships are at the heart of everything that happens at OBA and is at the very heart of their superb inclusive policy and practice.
An IQM Flagship School
Having completed a rigorous and thorough review and having discussed and agreed the targets cited in the report and their involvement in and capacity to support and attend Cluster Group meetings and understanding that their involvement will form a significant part of their next annual Review, I am of the opinion that Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy remains a school with the Inclusion agenda at the forefront of everything it provides for its pupils. The environment is superb providing an excellent teaching and learning environment for teachers, support staff, pupils and the local community. They have proved their expertise over the years of IQM accreditation and I believe they have the drive and capacity to be a Flagship School. I recommend, without reservation, that the school be given the accreditation, and moves from Centre of Excellence status to hold Flagship status.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
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