Pikes Lane Primary School in Bolton achieves Flagship School status.
Pupils are Happy
Pikes Lane is an outstanding larger than average, oversubscribed and growing primary school in an urban area of Bolton which is extremely complex in terms of its context. Virtually all the pupils are from different minority-ethnic backgrounds, the vast majority of the pupils speak English as an Additional Language. They aim to give their pupils the best education possible and a superb level of pastoral care so that they learn well and are happy in school.
Commitment to Inclusion
The school continues to flourish and holds at the very forefront of its ethos its superb commitment to providing a highly inclusive teaching and learning environment for all pupils. This is reinforced by their mission to inspire generations of children in a nurturing and stimulating environment, alongside their stated aim to always: ‘Try our Best, Achieve our Best, ‘Together we can be the Best’. An absolutely superbly inclusive statement that every member of staff involved with the school believes in and works hard on a daily basis with the pupils to ensure it happens. This is truly a school where every pupil really does matter and is made to feel special. This is a fact I can attest to from the evidence of the review and from discussions with all stakeholders. The school and staff are committed to providing the very highest standard of teaching and learning experiences which develop the pupils’ knowledge and skills.
Care, Nurture and Support
In terms of inclusion Pikes Lane is an outstanding school in every sense. This was highlighted by Ofsted in their most recent inspection in June 2016, where they were graded as outstanding in all areas! Stating, ‘Learning is fun at Pikes Lane. Pupils are extremely well motivated and thrive on the challenge that their teachers provide in lessons. Pupils have highly positive attitudes towards their learning. They display resilience and persistence when faced with challenge…Pupils make very strong progress from their starting points. As a result, they leave the school very well prepared for the next stage of their education’. This is a superb testament to the work of all members of the school and they should be justifiably proud. It’s clear that superb care, nurture and support for the foundation of inclusion is at the heart of everything that happens on a daily basis at Pikes Lane and is seen in all interactions, from discussions with all stakeholders during the review and from the evidence provided. Everyone involved with the school including pupils and parents pull together to realise the school’s vision and understand that this is a superbly inclusive place to come to work and learn.
Heart of the Community
This is a school that is clearly at the heart of its community where inclusion is a natural and intuitive part of what happens in school on a daily basis, where pupils are encouraged to reach their full potential, where everyone involved is committed to the inclusion of all, whatever it takes. This is a school that is constantly looking at ways to develop for the benefit of the pupils and families that it serves. A school that is at the heart of its community where inclusion is a natural part of the very fabric of the school and a place where superb care, nurture and support naturally occur. There is a very calm, happy, stimulating and vibrant learning environment that is seen throughout the school, in lessons., on corridors and at more social times, that has a focus on helping pupils to develop the skills they need to be active participants in their community and in society. Everyone I met was helpful and spoke very positively about their experience at Pikes Lane. This is a school with a focus on improving the attainment and wider outcomes for all pupils and not just promoting the learning of the lowest or highest achievers. As with the previous reviews it is clear to see that the school`s actions to care for pupils, in my judgement, is superb.
Pupils are Valued
Everything the school does is for the benefit of their pupils, they are valued for who they are and what they will become, no matter their starting point. The staff are exceptionally positive about the school and naturally go the extra mile and beyond without thought as a natural part of their teaching, care, nurture and support; to ensure that the individual and groups of pupils’ needs are met. An example of this is their absolute commitment to developing staff expertise that is central to their vision to include everyone. Pikes Lane is committed to becoming an ‘expert’ in the field of education. During the past year they have focused on developing staff expertise practice, developing their own Pikes Lane Developing Staff Teaching and Learning Rubrics. They include Non-Negotiables; a set of expectations for all teachers. Following on from this, they have included eight strategies for highly effective teaching and learning. These strategies have also been a focus in Quality of Teaching observations. The four separate rubrics are: Subject knowledge, planning, teaching and learning; Relationships, expectation and behaviour; Values and professional responsibility and Assessment and Outcomes. Each rubric has detailed information relating to qualities and expectations, for teachers to self-assess and reflect on their practice. Linked to each are four different levels of competency: Commencing Practice, Intermediate Practice, Accomplished Practice and Expert Practice. It will be of great interest to see how this has evolved and developed at the next review point and its impact.
Sources of Evidence
During the review I had the opportunity to observe lessons and in particular two classes who were involved in Reciprocal reading, a structured method of guided reading where children are gradually taught to take on group roles to explore and find meaning in texts, that also emphasises teamwork and supports independent comprehension skills; that the school has recently introduced and will continue to develop. In the third class they were focused on prehistoric Britain and were using Virtual Reality sets and AR technology to explore the world almost first hand, an amazing opportunity for the pupils. The school work closely with ‘Computeam’ who create immersive learning technology for schools to use and provide AR themed worksheets through ‘ActivLens. Pupils were actively engaged in their learning and during an opportunity to try the VR sets aided by one of the pupils it was clear to see how much the use of technology in this instance added to their learning experience and enabled them to better engage and understand the time in history they were studying. This was also endorsed by the teacher, trainee teacher and the support staff in the room.
There is a superb quality of support, care and nurture within the school that enhances provision continuously. 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 pupils and themselves. They work exceptionally hard to ensure that needs are met, it is very clear to see in all areas of the school that there is mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body; and a fantastic rapport between the staff, the pupils in the school and between the staff at all levels. A mutual regard and respect that shines through.
A Clear Vision
Staff, led by the Headteacher and her senior team, have a clear vision of the school and for the school, for their pupils, for their families and the community and a relentless determination and drive for all to succeed. This came across very clearly in meetings and discussions with staff at all levels and with the pupils I met and talked to and is a very real strength of this outstanding and superbly inclusive school. The behaviour and safety of pupils seen during this review was exemplary. Everyone involved with Pikes Lane should be immensely proud of the way they conduct themselves around the school. Pupils, through a variety of different opportunities, have a strong pupil voice and are keen to develop their ability to learn embracing new initiatives, such as Socratic seminars. This is in the process of being developed and is a formal discussion that is based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions. Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others. It will be of great interest to see how this has developed and to see the benefits at the next review.
Well Informed Parents
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 Pikes Lane and communicating extremely effectively through technology and its website, letters, texts and social media.
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