Rossington All Saints Academy in Doncaster has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Rossington All Saints Academy is a mixed, comprehensive Church of England Secondary School in Rossington, a small, former mining village within the Doncaster Local Authority and the Diocese of Sheffield. The Academy opened in 2011 and was initially sponsored by SPTA (School Partnership Trust Academies). In September 2016, the Academy sponsor had a change of leadership and became part of the Delta Academies Trust, which is a multi-academy trust operating 46 schools in the North East of England.
The Academy is a smaller than average secondary school with 762 students currently on roll. The proportion of disadvantaged students is significantly above the national average (36%) as is the number currently in receipt of Free School Meals (20%). The majority of students live in areas with significant pockets of deprivation, characterised by high unemployment, an inadequate employment base, low average income levels, poor physical and mental health and a degraded urban environment. The Academy’s postcode falls within the bottom 20% of the most deprived areas in the country, the average IDACI (Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index) score for Doncaster is 0.24.
Students within the Academy are mainly White British, with only 3.5% of students having English as an additional language. The number of students with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) is above national. A small number of students who receive additional behavioural and emotional support attend St Wilfrid’s Academy in Doncaster, which is a registered Alternative Provision within Delta Academies Trust. The gender split is currently 50.6% boys and 49.4% girls and there are 11 students in Local Authority care.
Inclusion is Prioritised
Rossington All Saints Academy has high standards and expectations for all its students and is serious about education. The Delta Academies Trust’s mission, ‘changing lives’, is demonstrated through the Academy’s work to ensure that all students are supported to be successful and leave with exam results which open up future opportunities. Rossington All Saints Academy’s aim for its curriculum is “to provide a curriculum which stimulates and motivates students irrespective of their background”. Their intention is “to ensure pupils make outstanding progress and that the curriculum removes any potential barriers to learning” and they “set high expectations to ensure that every pupil excels across all aspects of Academy life”. Inclusion is prioritised by all staff and during the assessment process the Principal explained how “inclusion is what we are about”.
No Student is Left Behind
No student is left behind due to the rigorous systems and comprehensive support plans in place. The Principal begins his welcome statement on the Academy website saying that “the Academy firmly believes in ensuring that all students enjoy their education, achieve to the best of their ability, make a positive contribution to society and become fully prepared for further study and the world of work”. This holistic commitment is thread throughout all areas of Academy life. The staff at Rossington All Saints Academy are tenacious in their mission for all to succeed and they do not give up on any child. Their fixed term and permanent exclusion figures have shown a significant decrease over the past three years and the Trust’s Alternative Provision means that there are many layers of support on offer inhouse. The number of behaviour incidents incurred since the start of this academic year are significantly lower than those recorded for the same period of the last academic year.
A Reputation for Exceptional Inclusive Practice
The Academy has a strong reputation across the MAT (Multi Academies Trust) as a hub of exceptional inclusive practice. Since the appointment of the current Headteacher, robust structures and routines have been embedded. The recent introduction of the new ‘deep’ distributed leadership organisation synthesises all aspects of school development with clear focus and direction. Academy Leaders currently judge their overall provision as ‘good’ but their excellent student outcomes data, alongside their outstanding provision in all aspects of inclusion, support their ambition to move the school swiftly to ‘outstanding’.
Supporting Vulnerable Learners
On the first day of the assessment, I held online meetings with leaders, key staff members and stakeholders. Through these meetings, it was evident that the Inclusion Team at Rossington All Saints Academy, especially the SENDCo, work extremely hard to ensure they support their vulnerable young people to the best of their ability. Over the past few years, they have forged strong relationships across the local authority and MAT schools to make sure they are accessing the best provision for those students who need it. They have also built a reputation for themselves as a team who supports other schools and shares their best practice.
The Academy’s Improvement Drive
Further evidence of the impact of the Academy’s improvement drive is the increasing numbers of students on roll and the raised PAN (Published Admission Number) for current Year 7. Despite its isolated location, Rossington All Saints Academy is becoming the school of choice in the local area, in particular for those students supported by an EHC plan, students with autism and looked after children. A recent SIAMS (Statutory Inspection for Anglican and Methodist Schools) report commended the “exemplary pastoral care of students and adults” which is “expertly tailored to individual needs so all flourish”. Their Christian vision for “experiencing life in all its fullness” is reflected by the Academy’s prioritisation of students’ wellbeing and personal development, alongside their learning.
Impressive Response to the Pandemic
The Academy’s response to the pandemic has been impressive; their swift adaptation to online learning throughout lockdown and the re-organisation of the school environment and routines, have meant that students and staff have settled well into their new way of working. Staff have embraced the opportunity to enhance already strong aspects of their inclusion provision, such as the location of the non-teaching Learning Managers to be on the same learning corridor ‘bubble’ as their year group. This allows leaders to de-escalate any potential issues and support teaching staff in a timely manner. They have invested in providing three face coverings for each student, with different colours for each year group. This means that the Academy can uphold the same professional standards for uniform but also ensure all students are keeping themselves and other safe.
Commitment to Inclusion
The Trust Directors, Academy Senior Leaders and wider Inclusion Team have a clear commitment to inclusion and support the staff well. All adults within the school are committed to, and passionate about, the inclusion agenda. Every member of staff who was spoken to during the assessment days talked about their happy, collaborative, team approach which in turn, influences the students. The Principal defines their approach to inclusion as “changing lives and encouraging students to be the best they can be”.
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