Reaside Academy in Birmingham has achieved the Inclusive School Award for the second time.
Context and Background
Reaside Academy is a smaller than average sized Junior school which serves a deprived community on the southern edge of Birmingham. It forms part of the University of Wolverhampton Multi-Academy Trust chain. The drive to the school was extremely pleasant as you encroached the Yorkshire countryside; this transpired to be overwhelmingly misleading. The countryside location defies the pupil catchment demographic, which is over 73% Pupil Premium, within a highly deprived community with many hidden social mobility challenges. The leadership team have been ambitious and aspirational, insisting on high expectations for all and this has been proven in their 2019 outcomes which were in line with national benchmarks, closing the deprivation gap for their students. The last Ofsted inspection celebrated the Headteacher, who has established a caring, orderly and ambitious culture. As a result of her clear expectations for all, the quality of teaching is improving steadily and standards across the school are rising and notable across the school community. This was certainly the case; her team were very vocal and unanimous in their praise of the Headteacher for giving the school direction. This was echoed by the governors, parents and pupil, who I spoke to, who could reflect on the lost years, where there was a high turnover of interim Headteachers and a lack of ownership, not just leadership. The team describe how Reaside Academy has progressed in the last four years from an organisation that was vulnerable and requiring improvement, to one which is confident, competent and aspirational. These words epitomise the attitude and outlook of the pupils and staff I had the pleasure to meet. I was presented with a team who from top to bottom, undoubtably knew their students and appreciated the importance of a good education to raise the aspirations of the students and the community surrounding them. Parents have faith in the leaders, and believe their children are ‘exceptionally well supported’ and make good progress, holistically as individuals, as the school offers them more than just progress in academia.
A New Build School
The Leadership team has secured funding for a New Build school. The plans were excitably shared and I was fortunate to be given a walk though of the building as it stands. The space was awe inspiring and should be completed by December 2019. Thoughtfully designed to be suitable for a multitude of disabilities and needs, the building takes advantage of the landscape and will be a focal point for the community. The pupils have been consulted at every level and the building has been built with the community’s needs in mind. They propose it will become the central hub for the community, meeting the needs of all school stakeholders and beyond. The Chair of the Governing Body has his finger on the pulse of the school and regularly checks its vital statistics. He ensures that there is a highly constructive and ambitious dialogue between the school leadership and the Governing Body. Governors are well informed of the current school context and challenge progress robustly when needed, through their high expectations for outcomes and provision for pupils. Alongside the Inclusion Quality Mark Status, they have also achieved the PSQM Silver Award for Science, the Arts Mark Silver Award and Leading Parent Partnership Award. This reflects the school’s ambition to ensure a rich and balanced curriculum and sustain best practice in every aspect of its provision.
Providing Support for All Pupils
Leaders are skilled at identifying school priorities including how to support pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, are disadvantaged or have a safeguarding and pastoral need. They dig deep into the personal circumstances of each child, to personalise the support to be most impactful. Deprivation and difference were never used as an excuse for underachievement, on the contrary, pupils were confident and self-motivated and flourishing due to their personalised learning experiences. Pupils reported with astute confidence that they felt safe in school and knew how to keep themselves safe in the outside world, including e-safety. The pupils were observed to be exceptionally eager to learn, and enjoy their lessons, and positive relationships with their teachers were evident in every greeting. The learning behaviour is good and pupils take a consistent pride in their work. If individuals fall below the expectation, there are teams with interventions to help put them back on track. There is a culture of restorative justice: support, not punish, which created an environment where mistakes were not feared. Teachers, parents and pupils described developing resilience in order to take ownership of their learning, but this could only be achieved with the stabilisation of the focussed leadership. Those with special needs were not easily distinguishable as teaching assistants moved fluidly around the room and school, offering an additional layer of personalised support. There are rigorous systems for assessment and evaluating the effectiveness of provision mean that pupils’ needs are quickly identified. Those children with additional needs are assessed and staff resources are deployed to support pupils particularly those with SEN and disadvantaged pupils. Provision is regularly reviewed and adjusted according to need, in a continuous cycle of assess, plan, do, review. Reaside collaborates extremely effectively with outside agencies which offer additional support for the high number of pupils with need, and this, alongside the dedicated school staff, ensures a high quality of pastoral care.
There are many additional opportunities for pupils to develop and be valued, as part of the Reaside community. Pupils could explain the anti-bullying and behaviour policy and children had a good understanding of what bullying is and how to deal with it as a result of anti-bullying week and value assemblies. I met with members of the school council who truly believed their voice was heard and that they asserted power through the School Council/EcoTeams where they have recorded a number of successful actions. This included a very effective campaign directed at the local council to improve the safety of the road directly outside the school and a pupil-led behaviour contract. The outside learning environments such as the Forest school growing projects, including a flower and vegetable garden, supported by ‘The Friends of Frankley Community’ give pupils experiences that are new and ignite the passion in their learning.
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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