Southmead Primary School in Wandsworth has achieved Flagship School status.
Purpose and Focus
Southmead Primary School website states that the school ‘is dedicated to ensuring all our pupils reach their potential in the context of a happy and safe environment.’ As soon as you walk into the school, there is a strong sense of purpose and focus as well as fun.
Sharing Excellent Practice
Strategies developed to achieve the vision are all based on research. Sharing excellent practice and evaluating the school’s own teaching practice is at the heart of the school. Research is key to all developments within the school. The current focus is the mapping of ‘current EHCP targets against the AET Progression Framework Objectives to identify a key focus within each of the 4 areas (Social Communication, Social Interaction, Social Imagination and Flexibility, Emotional Understanding and Self-Awareness)’. This has been carefully planned with a sense of determination by the Head of the Cherry ASD Base and will be fully integrated throughout the school for all pupils with ASD by September 2020 having begun with pupils based in the ASD Base’s ‘Cherry Tree Class’.
Meeting the Needs of All Pupils
Targets for each pupil go ‘hand in hand’ with curriculum planning and together they meet the needs of every single pupil. This was apparent throughout the meetings with staff. The staff spoke with a sense of pride and showed that all interventions are planned and assessed meticulously in the best interests of the pupils. They are tracked and monitored to measure impact. Interventions are then evaluated and agreed actions are taken to reassess the intervention and practice is altered accordingly. For example, Clicker 7 has been purchased with three members of staff trained to support the literacy needs of SEN pupils. This has had an impact on progress and will be developed to be used more widely across the school with a view to train all staff. Training in ‘Write Away Together’ has been undertaken by the SENCo with a view to develop the writing skills of all SEN pupils across the school. ‘Communication in Print’ is used widely in all classrooms and is developed in the best possible ways to support learning. This was evident in all the classrooms that displayed visual timetables and visual supports for learning on each cluster of tables in every classroom.
Pupils Engaged in Learning
During the Learning Walk, all pupils were engaged in learning with differentiated learning outcomes evident in all books to suit the needs of the learners. Skilful questioning by staff and volunteers whether it be a 1:1 reading intervention, a whole class discussion, individual or paired thinking time meant that pupils were ready and willing to learn. All resources are fit for purpose and well thought out with a certain amount of challenge to ensure the pupils are encouraged to be mindful of nurturing ‘Skills for Life’ which were named as the 5R’s: Resilience, Reasoning, Reflective, Responsible and Resourceful. All classes have developed a ‘Class Charter’ based upon the UNCRC Articles. These are taken very seriously with all pupils adhering to their Class Charter. Collaboration is evident throughout the school with wonderful colourful displays of pupils’ work. One exceptional display to reflect ‘Inclusion’ is in the Main Hall. The artwork was masterminded by the specialist Art teacher who had meticulously strategically planned how all pupils were to be involved in drawing and painting a large visual image encompassing all pupils, staff and the local community. The display reflects how inclusive Southmead is and this was apparent throughout the visit. Art is very much part of the school with the learning evolving through the ‘Picture Curriculum’. Each term every class studies a painting. Through the painting, knowledge, skills and understanding are acquired by the pupils through cross curricular themes that are intended to inspire and develop learning to a greater depth from the pupils’ differentiated starting points. The approach develops pupils’ experiences to understand the world outside their local community as well as the links between subjects.
Working Together in Partnership
The staff in the ASD Base work very closely with staff in mainstream. This is reflected in the percentages of pupils accessing mainstream. 72% of pupils from the Base attend mainstream lessons on a regular basis which supports their progress in both Core and Foundation subjects as well as other activities.
During the visit, pupils were observed in mainstream classes as well as in the Cherry ASD Base. Interventions were in place to ensure pupils succeeded and felt at ease. Staff leading the Cherry ASD Base are very meticulous in their planning to ensure pupils succeed. Cherry ASD Base is made up of two classes Cherry Blossom and Cherry Tree. The timetable is tailored to the needs of the pupils and includes Guided Reading, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy, Fine Motor Skills, Art, Science, PE as well as bespoke 1:1 support. EHCP targets are incorporated into weekly and daily planning along with the gradual integration of the AET Progression Framework Objectives.
Accessing Mainstream Provision
It is a credit to the staff that 100% of ASD pupils can access the main lunch hall with their peers as well as feeling safe to access playtime in the main playground. In addition to this, 76% of ASD pupils attend mainstream assemblies and join in with singing and whole school celebrations including ‘Star of the Week’, ’Writers of the Week’, ‘Maths of the Week’.
A Sense of Motivation
During the visit, both Key Stage One and Key Stage Two assemblies took place. The sense of motivation amongst all pupils to be involved was a joy to experience. Both members of staff leading the respective assemblies fully involved the pupils. Key Stage One focused on active listening, discussing and volunteering information regarding the importance of understanding feelings and developing a Growth Mindset. This was related to the 5Rs.
The Value of the Month
In Key Stage Two, the assembly involved pupils participating and discussing the value of the month: ‘Happiness’. This was related to Article 6 of the UNCRC. The pupils were able to explain that ‘doing my best’, ‘having a friend to cheer me up if I am sad’, ‘discovering new things’, ’new opportunities’, ‘proud to belong’ made them feel happy.
Immersed in Learning
The Head and Leadership team for Inclusion have evaluated the needs of all pupils and have ensured that the curriculum is tailored to meet their needs. Interventions are a daily occurrence at Southmead to ensure all pupils are included. Differentiation according to the needs of each pupil was evident in every classroom throughout the Learning Walk. The Library was ‘buzzing’ with volunteers hearing pupils read including a therapy dog. The pupils were totally undisturbed as we wandered around the school. This was because they were all immersed in their learning due to the creative and innovative ways the ‘Picture Curriculum’ meets the needs of the pupils.
There are also specialist teachers in Music, PE and Spanish and Art as well as Leaders in Numeracy, Literacy and Safeguarding. This ensures that the pupils’ lives are enriched with the specialists who also display and share their expertise regarding the needs of each pupil.
Parents interviewed could not speak highly enough of the staff and Head of the Cherry ASD Base. They were delighted that the Base successfully follows the mainstream curriculum but carefully plan the learning and teach it using appropriate strategies for their children with ASD and other needs such as SEMH. They all felt the Southmead had ‘transformed’ their children. They all spoke of the positive impact on their family lives outside school. Strategies were developed collaboratively between home and school to ensure consistency. Communication between parents and key staff is outstanding. This is done in a variety of ways through conversations in formal meetings, after school, on the telephone, through the home school reading record and homework book as well as the home contact book if their child comes to school on transport. The parents spoke of how transition into the school or between classes is seamless with home visits and personal messages from current pupils from the class that their child would be joining. One parent spoke of how ‘their lives have been changed’ and his child is now a ‘fun kid’ and the staff at the school ‘have unlocked the key to his son’s soul’.
Excellent at Collaborative Working
The parents also spoke of how the Deputy and the Head of the Cherry ASD Base are excellent in collaboratively working with external agencies and external professionals so that their children receive expert support if needed.
A Growing PTA
The school has worked tirelessly to develop a PTA which is led by a member of staff. There is a growing number of parents who are members of FOSS (Friends of Southmead School). They attend meetings held at the school to plan and run events such as the Winter and Summer Fairs, movie nights for each Key Stage as well as mufti days. The funds raised are used to raise money for requests from the pupils such as new playground equipment and wet play games.
An Outstanding Example of Integration
Southmead is an outstanding example of how pupils with SEN can successfully integrate and succeed within a mainstream setting and feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they have the important hub namely the excellent Cherry ASD Base. As one pupil stated in the assembly, ‘I am proud to belong, together we are one school and we all belong here’.
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)
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