Riverbank Academy, Coventry in the West Midlands, part of the Sidney Stringer Multi Academy Trust, has achieved the Inclusive School Award for the second time.
School in Context
On entering the building at Riverbank Academy, you are struck by the wide corridors and open spaces, and the calm welcoming atmosphere. The front entrance has amazing larger than life 3D models and awards are proudly displayed on the walls. Visitors are immediately struck by how friendly everyone is, from staff conducting the official processes such as signing in, to others just passing saying ‘morning’ in the corridor and the wonderful KS5 student who arrived to take the assessor’s lunch order. Throughout the day, a range of stakeholders where happy to share their experience of Riverbank, including members of SLT, Middle Leaders, support staff, students, Governors, and parents throughout the meetings the phrases ‘working as a team’ and ‘knowing the individual’ were a reoccurring theme. The rationale behind undertaking the IQM Inclusive School Award assessment was to recognise and celebrate the hard work, dedication and achievements of the staff and to share this with all stakeholders.
Purpose Built Provision
The Head and SENCo shared an insight into the journey that Riverbank has been on. The school has joined with Sydney Stringer Academy and a new school building has been planned. During the tour of the school, the Head described the level of detail that had gone in to the planning of the new build, making changes and adaptations until he felt that it suited the needs of his students, down to the specialist doors they had, to where the glass was placed in classroom doors and the sloping window sills for student safety. The Head had also managed to secure further funding to develop additional provisions in school, such as The Wave building and the soft play room due to be opened in September.
Riverbank provides provision for a broad spectrum of needs for students aged 11 to 19. They will be taking more students in September and ensure that the process for accepting placements is rigorous and accurate. They have an excellent relationship within the Local Authority and a strong team around them, including legal support. Their learners fit into three pathways; navigator, explorer, and adventurer. Their most complex learners are navigators, explorers follow a pathway that provides them with life skills and adventurers have the opportunity to access learning that may lead to GCSE and basic skills qualifications.
State Of The Art
The school prides itself on adapting provisions as and when necessary to meet the needs of their pupils. The Headteacher talks about how they are mentioned in Paul Dix’ book, ‘When Adults Change, Everything Changes.’ As well as the new build, the school managed to secure additional funding of £2m to develop the Navigator Suite, the only provision of its type in Coventry. This provision provides state of the art, bespoke resources for 18 students with the most complex of needs, catering for medical and health care.
The Head talks about the school being on a ‘never ending journey,’ always being open to what they can do to improve and enhance provisions. They pride themselves on what they are achieving, and this is reflected within their vision statement. However, he also states that the biggest challenge to the school is the increased demand for more students to attend. In September, the school population will increase to 200 students. With this comes an increase in staff, he recognises that with an expanding team, communication and a shared approach is key to maintaining the success of the school.
Dynamic Governing Body
The Governing Body are described by the Head as being part of the extended family of the school. They are valued for the challenge and support they offer; the Governors visit on a regular termly basis to monitor and discuss provision, however they are also a presence at SLT meetings, end of term events and assemblies. During these visits they aim to provide support and an outlet for staff through informal chats, recognising that working in a school can potentially be challenging and isolating at times.
The opportunities for students are extensive and cater for all interests and needs. There is an underlying focus on independence, communication and regulating sensory needs to ensure students are ‘fit for learning’ and that learning potentials are maximised. Alongside the curriculum pathways, there are enrichment opportunities both in and out of school, including Forest School, a residential visit to Wales, visits to an open theatre and fishing. The lunchtime and after school clubs cover, computing, board games, singing, dancing, rebound therapy using the trampolines, computer games to name but a few. 10 students taking part in a French module also had the opportunity to visit Paris for 2 nights.
Transition is well thought out, there is a Summer Club for new Year 7 students enabling them to become accustomed to the learning environment and staff prior to September. Students moving between key phases have support and their needs are outlined through their communication passports ensuring receiving staff are aware and prepared.
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.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack