Simon de Senlis Primary School in Northampton has achieved Flagship School status.
Simon de Senlis is a larger than average Primary School with 430 children from reception through to year 6. Proportions of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds and EAL are broadly in line with national averages. As well as the mainstream provision, the school has a Special Unit for twelve children with complex learning needs including speech and language difficulties. As a result of the transition from a resourced provision to a special unit, the age and needs of this group have changed in that younger children with more profound needs are accessing the SU. Proportions of pupils with SEN support are similar to those in other schools, however proportions of pupils with high needs (HNF, statements & EHC plans) are significantly higher than national average. The school has a deprivation factor which is below the national average and the number for pupils eligible for FSM is below national average.
Working in Collaboration
Since April 2015, the school has been part of the Northampton Primary Academy Trust (NPAT), working in collaboration with ten other Northampton Primary Schools towards a common vision of ‘Extraordinary Children doing Extraordinary Things’. This partnership supports rigorous and effective school improvement as well as access to wider opportunities with sport and performing arts.
Simon de Senlis Primary School is a successful school which was acknowledged in its most recent Ofsted inspection in February 2018. Since then, the Deputy Headteacher has been appointed to replace the previous Headteacher who has taken up a position within the Northampton Primary Academy Trust Partnership (NPAT). Her capacity to continue the impressive improvements is evident and is strengthened by a deep understanding of the school and its community. From their findings, Ofsted inspectors reported that “Parents and carers report high levels of satisfaction with the school, expressing their appreciation of its highly inclusive and welcoming ethos.” The Inclusion Leader supports this inclusive ethos admirably and ensures that parents and staff are well informed of the inclusion agenda.
A Well Maintained Building
The school building is well maintained and carefully managed to maximise the best possible use for the children. The school has undertaken a recent building programme to support the LA with basic need places. There are impressive displays in corridors and classrooms many of which comprise a range of work completed by the children. During my tour of the school I visited classes, spoke to children and staff, viewed samples of work and saw how staff plan and record their interventions. It was testimony to the staff and the high-quality Teaching Assistants, that I was unable to identify who was the teacher and who was the assistant. Collaborative planning is a feature of the provision and it is commendable that time is afforded to teaching assistants to meet each week.
Resourced SEN Unit
During the tour, I also visited the resourced SEN Unit which now comprises two classrooms for twelve children with complex learning needs, speech, language and communication needs. The two classes are grouped according to need rather than age and are consequently vertically grouped within the key stage. Almost all of the time in school is spent in the SEN unit with children accessing mainstream for PE, trips and other enrichment activities. The school has a successful Inclusion Team which includes the Inclusion Leader, Family Support Worker, SEN Unit staff, SEN support staff and EAL support. The local authority has judged the SEN unit over the past two years as outstanding. I was impressed by the activities I saw children engaged in and the positive and warm interactions between staff and children.
The Nurture Resource
Later, I visited the newly created ‘Nurture’ resource for children with behavioural, social, emotional and mental health needs. A dedicated classroom has been suitably adapted and a Higher Level Teaching Assistant has been appointed this term to lead the provision. In addition to her previous experience at another school and her accreditation in this area, both the Inclusion Leader and Family Support Worker have also received appropriate training. Currently, five children are supported through Nurture and further one to one support is provided to other children and there is small group work for children in years 2-6. Identification of need is through a variety of means including Boxall Profile, PASS survey, internal behaviour monitoring, the school’s Class Assessment and Progress Plans (CAPPs), teacher review mornings and through the bought-in Educational Psychologist support. There was ample evidence of expertise, good resourcing and abundant energy and enthusiasm that will add significantly to the excellent inclusive practice at Simon de Senlis Primary School.
An Emphasis on the Importance of Reading and Writing
There is a strong emphasis on the importance of reading and writing and to that end, the school have been using the ‘Kinetic Letters’ programme for several years. From the 2014 Ofsted report, Inspectors noted that “School initiatives to improve pupils’ perseverance with and fluency in writing have been highly successful. Standards of writing have improved significantly and are now above average throughout the school. Standards of writing are very high in Year 1 and Year 2.” There is a consistency of approach evident in classroom displays and in children’s workbooks and the school is used as a model of good practice on the programme website and in a variety of training events often held at the school.
Extensive Networking with Other Schools
As a result of the school’s extensive networking with other schools, this year the school has added to its reading and writing strategies by introducing Pie Corbett’s ‘Talk For Writing’. Over the next two years, the school will roll out the programme and all teachers and teaching assistants will receive training. In addition, the school is engaging with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The school has invested significant resources in these important strategies and there are clear signs of positive impact.
Clear and Structured Support
There is clear and structured support in the Early Years to develop language skills and communication and a well-resourced induction process and specific interventions. Each child with EAL has an assessment using the Bell Foundation EAL Assessment Framework for Schools in language proficiency. This is baselined and completed three times a year to track progression. This enables staff to identify gaps and, if progress is not shown over a few months, helps to identify where there may be an additional need alongside the EAL.
Impressive Range of Training Opportunities
The school actively seeks out opportunities to network with other organisations in order to learn from and share their good practice. The Headteacher is a mentor for teachers who are working towards the National Award in SEN Co-ordination through Northampton University. Through the Northampton Primary Academy Trust partnership, the school is working with Huntington School, one of the national Research Schools, and developing a curriculum based on improving vocabulary. There is an impressive range of training opportunities available through Simon de Senlis which is testimony to the leaders’ commitment to professional development and continued collaboration with other organisations.
IQM Cluster Group
The school sent representation to the IQM cluster meeting held at Brookland Farm Primary in Milton Keynes. From the cluster meeting, the school has reviewed its behaviour policy and is developing practice to increase rewards and specific expectations for behaviour across the school. In addition, the school is considering using other industries to support learning.
Extensive Leadership Opportunities for Children
The school provides extensive leadership opportunities for the children including Digital Leaders, Sports Leaders, Play Leaders, Junior Librarians, School Council, House Captains and Vice-Captains. The school also has a Forest School which provides children with an opportunity to experience learning in an outdoor environment.
The Curriculum Offers Breadth and Balance
Leaders are keen to ensure that the curriculum offers breadth and balance and as their excellent website states they have “…implemented a re-invigorated curriculum model which builds and extends creativity and thinking whilst combining subjects effectively to allow for great learning. This, alongside initiatives to build core skills in Reading and Writing, will equip our learners with transferable skills and tools for excellence”. In addition, Simon de Senlis Primary School is one of only 7% of schools in the UK that has achieved Artsmark Gold with a ‘ highly commended’ recommendation by the British Arts Council.
Exceptional features of this school include the overall ethos of including and supporting all children and their families, their awareness of the individual needs of others and the excellent teamwork and reflective practice of teaching and support staff. The school’s website proudly states that “At Simon de Senlis, we are passionate about learning. Through an approach to learning, fuelled by inspiration, high expectations and innovation, we are building a community of curious, industrious and agile learners who make a positive ‘dent in the universe’.”
Sharing Best Practice
The school is constantly developing its practice and sharing it with other schools. This is a highly inclusive and successful school which is seeking to improve still further and can offer valuable support to other schools.
Constantly Improving Inclusive Practice
Simon de Senlis Primary continues to move from strength to strength in terms of its inclusive practice.
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