Outwood Academy Valley in Worksop has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
I spent two days visiting the Outwood Academy Valley, which is part of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, a large Multi Academy Trust with more than 30 primary, secondary and AP academies across the North of England. It was clear that all of those who worked in the Academy felt that they are very well supported by the Trust and they constantly spoke about the support (and challenge) provided. Many spoke about the school before they joined the MAT and were very positive about the many changes.
Academy Held in High Regard by All Stakeholders
The Academy was welcoming and all of those I met (and there were many) were happy to talk about their school and their roles in the school. There was a friendly atmosphere where staff and students appear to have good relationships. The school was calm and well organised and there were high expectations of behaviour and of appearance. The school environment is very pleasant and there are good facilities. Furthermore, the school is well maintained and I saw no litter or graffiti or damage to the building. The students show respect for the building and the Premises Team do a brilliant job at maintaining it. The spacious corridors and grounds and sports facilities were very impressive. However, a school is only as good as the people within the organisation and I was very pleased to meet so many adults, children, parents and Governors. It is true to say that all those attached to the school hold it in great regard and are extremely loyal. The staff I met told me they felt supported in their roles and told me that communication with the Principal and senior team was exceptional. They don’t need to make an appointment to see the Principal as he is walking around the school every day and he is very approachable. The same was said of the senior team.
Dealing with the Challenges of the Pandemic
Despite the large student population, the school felt spacious and not overcrowded in any way. The wide corridors (with movement to the left) means that students with mobility difficulties can move around freely. The wide corridors also allowed students to be socially distanced as they moved from class to class. The Covid restrictions mean that children operate in Year bubbles and the systems to keep the year groups away from each other are very well organised. The day had been extended to allow staggered movement and breaks and lunchtimes. All the adults and students I saw were wearing masks. There were many adults around supervising students moving around and the atmosphere was calm and orderly. However, corridors were not silent as students chatted as they went along. There was a big focus on ensuring uniform was worn correctly but this was done (and received) with a light touch approach.
Engaging Positively with Students
The Pastoral Care and Inclusion Teams in particular offer great support for a number of children who find school difficult. The provision for good mental health and wellbeing are central to the organisation and are making a real difference to children and staff. Staff go to great lengths to support children and families and don’t give up on them. The high exclusion rate is (hopefully) a thing of the past and the school is working hard to severely reduce fixed term exclusions and is putting a range of interventions in place to ensure students are identified and supported early on. This is already making a difference and I hope this continues as the Academy moves forward.
Hard Working Team Working with a Dedicated Principal
Collaboration and collegiality are central to the way staff work in every part of the school and this is one of the main contributors to the success of the school. The school is well led by a dedicated Principal and a hard-working and committed team. They have much to be proud of.
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: email@example.com for further details.
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