Our Lady’s Queen of Peace Catholic Engineering College in Skelmersdale achieves Flagship School status for the second time.
A Highly Inclusive and Caring School
Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Engineering College is an impressive highly successful oversubscribed, inclusive 11-16 Comprehensive School serving the local community, with 890 pupils on roll with a higher than average deprivation indicator with students coming from the most deprived wards of the town. The school is part of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and serve the diverse community of Skelmersdale. It is a catholic school where Christian values are deeply embedded in all areas of life at the school that support their superbly inclusive ethos. They are proud to be a strong faith community and welcome children from other Christian and religious backgrounds. Everyone who is part of the school lives by their Mission Statement ‘In Christ We Grow’ striving for excellence through caring, sharing and achieving underpinning everything and at the very heart of all that they do. The school prides itself on superb pastoral care, actively promoting equality and diversity and is therefore an extremely welcoming, highly inclusive and caring school. Statements that perfectly sum up the school’s core purpose; to create the conditions that allows 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 this and previous reviews and through discussions with staff and students and that all staff who work in the school should be proud of.
Superb Care, Nurture and Support
The school is effectively led and managed by the inspirational Headteacher, her Senior Leaders and the Governors who work effectively together to develop and drive forward the strategic vision of the school. OLQP demonstrates superb care, nurture and support that is the foundation upon which the school builds its educational practice developing students for success in the 21st century through the evolution of their inspirational and creative curriculum, where inclusion is at the heart of everything that happens on a daily basis and is seen in all interactions, naturally as a matter of course. This was clearly seen and identified from discussions during the review and from the evidence provided.
Superb Level of Inclusivity
During the review process I was able to talk to a variety of staff who have been actively involved in, and will be involved in, the school’s Targeted Research Plan this year and moving forward next year. While also having the opportunity to talk to staff and students to ensure that OLQP continues to enact all elements of the Inclusion Quality Mark. Everyone without exception was extremely positive about the school and they were keen to let me know that the school is a naturally very inclusive setting. Empathetic staff clearly understand the needs of their students and the needs of their colleagues. There are no barriers to learning or inclusion at OLQP, everyone is included and looked after to the best of their ability demonstrating the school’s superb level of inclusivity.
Everyone is Challenged and Supported
OLQP is a school where staff have the highest standards where everyone is challenged and supported to flourish and is encouraged to work hard to fulfil their aspirations, with an expectation that every member of the school be the best they can be. A truly inclusive and extremely caring, school where all staff are justifiably proud of the high-quality experiences they provide to all students and that is a testament to the hard work of the staff and the students and that clearly demonstrates superb inclusive practice at its best. The staff across the school but particularly in The Base, Inclusion and Nurture areas have a very real and positive impact on students’ ability to access appropriate learning or timely interventions, allied with an unwavering and uncompromising ambition for all they serve including disadvantaged and vulnerable students. This is a fact I can attest to from the evidence of the review and through discussions during the review. Inclusion is a natural and intuitive part of what happens on a daily basis at OLQP, students are encouraged to achieve their full potential, where everyone is committed to the inclusion of all students whatever it takes and is continually developing practice for the benefit of the students, families and the local community it serves. Rightly there is a tight focus on improving the attainment and wider outcomes for all and not just promoting the learning of the lowest or highest achievers. Everyone connected to the school should be proud that they provide such a superbly inclusive environment.
Pursuing Excellence in Learning
OLQP is a distinctive school that has personalisation at its core and pursues excellence in learning and teaching with rigour and determination, embedding a culture where change is continually embraced, and creativity and adaptability are central to all aspects of its work. Mutual regard and respect shines through, with warm, positive relationships evident both in the classrooms and around the school. Students have a high regard for their teachers and want to achieve; they are keen to learn and have high expectations of themselves’. The school, the staff and the students should be commended for such an inclusive approach.
Sources of Evidence
During the Review, I had opportunities to observe highly positive interactions between staff and students, whilst also having opportunities to have discussions with staff exploring aspects of their school that clearly demonstrated their superb inclusive ethos and culture, including the opportunity with the Headteacher to discuss progress since the last review including aspects of the school’s Targeted Research Plan for 2018-19 and developments for 2019-20. I was able to speak to the School Advisor on the phone and also a School Governor. He was very supportive of the work the school continues to do to ensure that the school evolves and maintains an inclusive curriculum and is firmly of the belief that the curriculum that is evolving at OLQP is one of the best in the country with amazing work done by staff on student destinations and tracking. This was echoed by the school Governor who praised the massive staff buy-in to improve what is offered to the students and families in an area of high deprivation and social challenge. Aspiration is key to what is offered, with every educational opportunity embraced and everyone engaged and feeling valued as part of the students’ journey. Fantastic accolades for the school, staff, students and the community.
Discussions with Staff
I spoke to a group of staff to look at the summary of progress in terms of curriculum intent and its implementation and impact, evidence of improved systems and the specific focus on progress of PP, SEN and vulnerable students while also looking at on-going challenges and the school’s plans to address them via the full KS3 and KS4 Curriculum Review to ensure the OLQP curriculum is appropriate for the needs of All groups of students. It was very clear that the curriculum review and the external PP review were extremely rigorous and challenging. There were also one to one meetings with parents and the investment in CPD has resulted in massive progress over the last twelve months in terms of progress towards achieving the outcomes of the plan to create a flexible curriculum enabling disadvantaged students to improve outcomes. Key to this was the school’s adoption and use of SISRA Analytics, an online data analysis solution allowing staff to track and analyse achievement data easily, quickly and accurately, helping to drive school performance and improvement. It will be interesting to see how this has evolved across the whole school at the next review.
Discussions with Students
I was able to talk to a group of students about the curriculum implementation and see the impact in their books across a range of subjects, demonstrating evidence of the personalised curriculum having a positive impact through the enhanced use of progress data, engagement, motivation, attitudes to learning and destinations. While also having opportunities to talk about opportunities for Student Leadership that had been discussed at the last review. The students from a range of year groups were positive about the changes made to the curriculum although in some cases it was difficult to see the impact as they had only just been implemented. It will be useful to talk to the students at the next review to see the impact when embedded. It was clear to see when looking at the sample of books provided that impact is being demonstrated and it will be clearer as changes are further embedded in the future. A further conversation looked at the progress made with CIAG since the last review, links to the personalised curriculum, the impact and developments for the next review period such as the change in the Pastoral System so that Year 7 have their own form groups to support transition and the rest of the school maintain the mixed form groups across Years 8-11.
There were opportunities to discuss Maths Curriculum Development as part of the evaluation of the 2018-19 plan with a focus on the KS3 revised SOW and evidence of this year’s curriculum development to engage and motivate all students, with evidence of improvements shown in student books and data for different groups. An opportunity to look at the maths departmental review plan including the use of Just Maths https://justmaths.co.uk and Passport Maths https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/passport-maths, an early intervention programme for year 7 students who are not secondary ready in maths, the revised SOW, assorted curriculum developments, how Maths have used external support to ensure positive and sustainable improvements and the focus on PP. It will be of interest to see what impact the new curriculum development has had on outcomes for all groups at the next review.
Internationalism and Business Links
There was an interesting discussion on Internationalism and Business Links with the Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for these areas to discuss developments over the past year that has seen OLQP continue to develop its superb international dimension linking with numerous schools across the globe and is in the process of re-accreditation for the Full International Award again and they have expressed a desire to hold an International Schools Ambassador Role. A role that will showcase their superb international links and the work they do across the globe and will allow them to add even more breadth to what they offer to work with more students and schools. OLQP work with a number of businesses and this continues to grow with their developing relationship with Essity and now the beginning of a possible relationship with Ibstock. There was also an opportunity to visit a group of students involved with the Eco Bricks project with two representatives from Ibstock Brick Ltd who were visiting the school to discuss a collaborative opportunity as part of The West Lancashire (NHS) Summer School project in two years promoting health related roles through STEM, with Ibstock being one of the sponsors for the event. The students were using eco bricks, a reusable building block created by packing clean and dry used plastic into a plastic bottle to a set density to make an eco-bench and the staff and students are considering making a beach hut using the bricks in future.
Detailed Curriculum Planning
As part of the 2018-19 evaluation a number of staff, provided case studies to show the positive impact of curricular developments on the PP cohort of disadvantaged students at risk of being disengaged, demonstrating the detailed curriculum planning that had taken place to ensure the students remained on track and achieve success. While also showing the extensive support for targeted students for emotional well-being and the impact of such interventions on achievement, engagement and motivation. During the last year the pastoral team has looked at ways to engage a small cohort of disengaged students given that external provision is becoming increasingly expensive and uneconomic. Therefore, they have looked to utilise internal expertise and look to engage with schemes run by charities or are free but fit for purpose and suit the needs of OLQP students. One such scheme Bright Sparks has had a presence in the school for the last decade. Bright Sparks boards have been used to teach electricity circuits in science lessons for lower ability sets. OLQP took this project on board from United Utilities, they modified the design and turned it into a manufacturing project as well as a teaching aid. The project was discontinued as the new BTEC specification started. However, the project was recommissioned this year for a group of boys who were in danger of becoming disengaged from education. The boys were supervised by the Engineering technician who checked the units completed and signed off their output each lesson.
Supporting the Wider Community
The students worked in a quiet, calm and, possibly, therapeutic environment. They produced a rush job of 30 boards which was taken to Sri Lanka and donated to Tzu Chi School, Hambantota. OLQP have also donated a set to Eguafo Junior High in Ghana. Other sets have been used by the science department and some donated to local primary schools. A fantastic example of an in-house project that has worked to re-engage a group of boys. The school is also looking to work with NCS – National Citizenship Service https://www.ncsyes.co.uk and is working with the Home Office on the Safer Teens’ Project where the school has been asked to help develop a programme supporting mental health with students on the verge of exclusion. A fantastic opportunity for the school. It will be of great interest to see how these initiatives have evolved and developed at the next review.
Working to Improve Behaviour, Attendance and Punctuality
I was able to look at how OLQP had put in place more effective strategies to improve behaviour, attendance, punctuality during the last review period with a the newly appointed Strategic Lead on Attendance and The Behaviour Lead. Everyone who works in the school is involved in improving attendance and behaviour removing the many barriers to attendance that exist in the community that the school serves. The school has reduced persistent absence and is committed to working to reduce it even further and there is a structure in place to reduce incidences of poor punctuality that is having a positive effect with students. Coupled with highly effective behaviour management that is now fully embedded with the school leading to more positive outcomes for students and staff.
Supporting Vulnerable Students
I was able to have a conversation with staff from the Inclusion area that includes The BASE, a personalised area within the inclusion suite that offers a safe-haven for vulnerable students. This is a place where they can access curriculum provision and receive emotional and social advice, guidance and support. The staff involved in all aspects of this provision have a superbly empathetic approach to caring for and nurturing the students who need their support and we were able to discuss the plans in place to extend the provision for September so that they can continue to provide the enhanced support that the students need. This will include moving the provision and adding an Intervention Hub and a Mental Health Suite where the member of staff who has recently been trained as a Mental Health First Aider will be able to provide even more personalised support for those students who need it. A fantastic provision that will ensure that OLQP can continue to provide the highest level of support for identified students and is a key part of their superbly inclusive approach to supporting the needs of all students.
Inclusion is a Continuously Developing Entity
In summary, it is very clear to see that the superb inclusive ethos of this school is very much a living, breathing and continuously developing entity. Inclusion is at the very heart of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Engineering College and is led by the inspiration of, and the aspirations of, a highly cohesive group of senior leaders with shared values led by the Headteacher, and the ‘can do’ attitude they inspire in their carefully chosen staff. Staff morale is extremely high, and they feel empowered to try out new ideas and to take calculated risks in the interests of the students in their care. Life never stands still at OLQP as they continue 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 so they are prepared and make the right decisions developing appropriate and timely plans for the future. Students always come first, and their needs are the priority. Extremely positive relationships are at the heart of everything that happens at OLQP and is at the very heart of their superb inclusive policy and practice. The review process highlighted the fact that the school is a vibrant, yet calm learning community, where its values and vision demonstrate its outward facing nature, delivering quality teaching and learning experiences for students and demonstrating their superb inclusive culture that is a natural part of the everyday experience shared by staff and students alike.
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