Sirius Academy West in Hull achieves IQM Flagship School status.
Sirius Academy West is based in the Local Authority of Kingston Upon Hull District Council and is a Secondary Comprehensive. It has over 1500 students on roll and has sixth form programmes. The school hosts a LA resourced provision for pupils with hearing impairment.
Ensuring All Children’s Needs are Met
Sirius West has held Centre of Excellence status for Inclusion for 3 years and the School Team show determination in ensuring that the needs of all children are addressed. The school is part of the Constellation Trust and is a Key Stage 3 – Key Stage 5 mixed Academy. In Nov 2018 Ofsted identified the school as ‘requiring improvement’ in terms of overall effectiveness. The Head of School is cognisant of the need to raise attainment and has adjusted the structure and delivery of the curriculum in order to improve.
Openness and Honesty
The Head of School and Inclusion Coordinator speak enthusiastically about the work of the school. There is a clear openness and honesty about the curriculum showing that the Head of School has a clear understanding of the developments needed at the school and he shares his desire to ensure the curriculum is “fit for purpose”; meeting the needs of learners. KS3 also now includes Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 as one key step in ensuring that children are provided with sufficient time to consolidate and secure skills and knowledge to form a basis to cope with KS4 and exam-based courses. The time within KS3 also allows for broader and more balanced curriculum, allowing additional time in more practical subjects such as Art, Drama, Music and Technology thus endeavouring to meet the needs of the children.
Widening Horizons and Expectations
Key staff share the work they deliver and promote to foster engagement and relevance for the children including PSHE (Jigsaw), Hospitality and Catering, assemblies, for example, which help children clarify their dreams and goals, a well-planned career programme for Yr 11, Enterprise Enrichment opportunities and wider employment issues each brings its own taste of the real world to that of the learner. Links with groups such as Smith and Nephew, Barclays, Motor Depot widen horizons and expectations too.
Encouraging and Challenging
On the school website it states that, “At Sirius Academy West we deem the responsibility of providing high-quality teaching and learning as absolutely paramount. We challenge our high ability students to push the boundaries by constantly heightening expectations, whilst also encouraging them to aspire beyond the realms of the ordinary by enhancing their intellectual bravery so that they make rapid progress. To achieve this, we ensure that our students are stretched in every lesson.” These aspirations seek to encourage and challenge, thereby engaging the learner. It is pleasing to hear that the Head of School seeks to work cooperatively with others within the trust to set challenge and to enable youngsters not just to have high aspirations but also to have a positive self-esteem.
Meeting Pastoral Needs
Senior staff recognise the importance of ensuring that the pastoral needs of children including EAL are met and it is clear that the well-being of students and staff has a high profile. The work described by the Inclusion Lead during the course of the day underlined this. The Inclusion Hub is well positioned in the central pod of the school building and comprises the SEND dept, EAL support, Literacy Support and Safeguarding. Within this base, personalised programmes are made available. PSAs are trained to deliver programmes and support in class and in intervention groups. All resources are well documented for teachers to access. The department is able to advise teaching staff on teaching approaches to support needs in class and offer pen-portraits to inform teachers of needs. Senior Leadership expect staff to be cognisant of learning styles and needs in order for them to adapt their teaching.
A Shared Vision
Meeting with a range of staff including the Inclusion Lead and SENDCO, Assistant Vice -Principal and Director of Transition, Senior staff enabled me to gain an insight into some key aspects of development and change including the QA of tracking and achievement. Staff were able to share new tracking files including ‘All about me’ information which enables all practitioners to have a better understanding of individual’s specific needs in order to better cater for all children in the classroom. It is now clear that learning and teaching strategies can be more effectively shared therefore teachers should be more able to tailor tasks to the needs of the individuals. All Senior staff speak highly of the school’s progress in their endeavours to ensure the children’s needs are met. They have a shared vision and can articulate how quality of teaching and learning is to be measured. They make mention of evidence of this from observation, work scrutiny and data analysis. It is evident from tracking files that this evidence is now being used to inform teaching. Quality Assurance 360 Curriculum reviews are now used. Interventions are led through these reviews. Quality Assurance and student information are provided to encourage Wave 1 interventions, senior staff report that these are used consistently. Lunchtime interventions too, build on curriculum needs and provide opportunities for widening the experience of youngsters. This reflects the school’s mission statement and also underpins the shared vision, “Sirius Academy West strives to be an inclusive, purposeful and high achieving educational community, delivering high quality, engaging and innovative learning experience.” The enthusiasm of the intervention teams are strong, they are committed to their varying roles. A ‘can do’ approach is fostered.
The Importance of the School Nurse
It became apparent that the school nurse plays a beneficial role in the life of the school. The school has identified that this is valuable and whilst the school’s entitlement is minimal, hours are extended to ensure she is available to fully carry out her role. This has benefits for individuals and supports universal provision. By being on site, her presence enables her to more readily attend Multi-agency meetings to which she can offer useful information, for example, it was clear that students felt able to approach her over relationship matters.
The Importance of Well-Being
Well-being of staff and children is being considered and a number of groups have formed. The following have been undertaken by staff ‘Walk and talk’, weekly walking club for staff, yoga group, the three peaks challenge and a parachute jump.
Supporting Newly Qualified Teachers
All NQTs in place are from the SCITT and have an Induction Day and a weekly training session. Inclusion has been an important part of their training. They have the opportunity to reflect on the teacher standards and are supported in actioning the ‘wave’ strategy.
Developing Resilience and Self-Confidence
It is clear that planned sessions are in place for year groups to take part in activities which build confidence and support attendance and engagement. I was able to talk to children over lunchtime who had benefited from such sessions including those attending the Army Cadets. This had helped to develop the children’s resilience and to develop self-confidence after attending off-site activities with the Army. PSHE has been recognised as key to supporting children’s mental health and Health and Social Care units are being delivered in KS3.
The transition work of the Assistant Vice Principal and his team supports children to make steps into KS3 more securely to strengthen their start into Sirius West. In order to do this, key objectives have been determined to enable increased familiarity with the school. This includes visits to Sirius in the Summer Term, prior to starting and the running of a sports talent camp throughout the year prior to starting in Yr 7. In addition to this, children in Yr 6 have made visits to Sirius to work on specific themes (e.g. Maths and Eng G&T) and teachers from Sirius West have made visits into Primary schools. Some more vulnerable children have made some earlier visits to aid the ‘settling in’ process.
Happy and Welcoming
On this visit, I found the school to be happy and welcoming. This was evident from the outset, with Reception staff ensuring that appropriate ‘signing in’ arrangements are undertaken and providing effective and friendly communication with visitors to the school. Safeguarding is given high priority, it is clear who is able to support if there are any worries or concerns. Pupils are given the opportunity to talk to someone and procedures are made clear to everyone in school. The Deputy Head Inclusion and Safeguarding and Inclusion Lead/SENDCO effectively leads on this.
A Safe and Supportive Environment
Staff aim to provide a safe and supportive environment that enables pupils to flourish and reach their potential. There is a shared code of conduct which is posted around the school to serve as reminders to the children.
Staff are Proactive and Responsive
On the day of the visit a fire drill took place, this was carried out quickly and efficiently, children acted responsibly and staff supported all children including those who needed assistance to vacate the building. Children behaved in an orderly manner and staff were proactive and responsive to the needs of youngsters.
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