St Clare’s RC Primary in Middlesborough has recently been re-awarded the Inclusive School Award.
A Good First Impression
Upon walking into the school, the reception area and welcoming Office Staff give parents and visitors a good first impression of what is to follow. Friendly faces abound and it is impressive how all staff interact with every child – everybody is everyone’s responsibility.
St Clare’s RC Primary School is a fine example of inclusive practice. Inclusion permeates all aspects of the school’s work, from its planning, support for children, its work with parents, and the curriculum provision on offer. The school is popular. Parents choose to send their children to St Clare’s even when they move out of the catchment area: this is proof indeed of how high they value this provision.
The Head Teacher and Inclusion Managers (SENDCOs) work tirelessly and effectively with the Governing Body to promote these inclusive aspirations with the staff team for all children at the school. Everyone concerned with St Clare’s is involved in developing the school’s Catholic ethos, with inclusion playing an essential role in this.
Children Make Exceptionally Strong Progress
Children throughout EYFS, KS1 and KS2 make exceptionally strong progress and attain highly at all stages which is reflected in the school’s Data Dashboard and its own internal data. To achieve this, the school places priority on the child’s social and emotional well-being as is reflected in the regular use of the School Chapel by the pupils, and the school’s utilisation of REACH and the Counsellors associated with it.
Children Have Mutual Respect
A high emphasis is placed on the children having mutual respect; the way in which the children converse, and are active listeners in conversations, are good examples of this. In addition, they actively raise money for worthy causes and are particularly keen on raising funds for CAFOD, citing examples of providing fresh water supplies for countries overseas. Creative and stimulating school displays further supports this message.
Raising Money for Local Needs
The children, via the Minnie Vinnies and School Council were also active in raising money for local needs including children with profound and complex needs, and for the school itself. The children have a clear understanding that compared to other people and countries, they are fortunate and it is their duty to make things better for everyone.
Relationships between the school, the staff, the children and the parents/carers is excellent and very strong. Adults model high levels of respect which the children adopt. The children feel well cared for, safe and secure, and they know who to go to if there is a problem. Many children take on additional responsibility, such as the Head Boy/Head Girl, Sports Crew, the School Council, Eco Council and Minni Vinnies who are involved directly in decision-making processes. Staff have a thorough knowledge of the children’s next steps for learning, and the children feel well supported by the teachers and support staff. The parents are confident that the school provides a good education and cares for their children, and as a result, the children enjoy school with attendance being well above National Average.
Pupil Premium Funding
Good use is made of Pupil Premium funding, and there is clear communication between parents and the school. Parents with children with additional needs feel very well supported and are kept fully informed of their child’s development. Even when challenging conversations are required (e.g., removal of some support), the parents understand why this decision has been taken and how the school will continue to monitor progress rigorously and move their child forwards.
High Quality Displays
High quality, and interactive displays permeate throughout the school demonstrating a balance between the celebration of children’s work, providing a focus for learning, encouraging positive learning behaviours, and instilling a sense of worth in society.
Rewards are used wisely to promote high quality learning, exceptional behaviour, and to recognise acts of kindness and generosity.
A Well Resourced Curriculum
The curriculum is well resourced, with IT receiving high priority. There is a sizeable IT Suite and numerous iPads/Tablets around school meaning that the children have access to high quality IT when needed. Older children are encouraged to work independently in the IT Suite without adult supervision, they are trusted to work sensibly and conduct themselves wisely, they do not let themselves, or their adults, down.
A Stimulating Learning Environment
The outdoor learning environment is bright and stimulating, with the whole area being used regularly. Attractive outdoor play equipment has been provided through the children fundraising, a garden is used to stimulate and engage some of the harder-to-reach children in positive past-times, but these have been initiated and developed by the School Council and recently the Sports Crew who lead on break-time activities.
Excellent Speakers Visit School
Children speak highly of the adults who come into school to talk about their jobs and feel inspired to work hard. Learning is further stimulated through a wide range of visitors who support the learning, and visits for the children to areas of interest both locally and further afield. Year 5 and 6 participate in a residential which they appreciate as it gives them opportunities to be independent learners and discover things about themselves which they didn’t know. One girl said, “What you learn on residential are personal skills which help you become a resilient learner and responsible for yourself.” Another one reported, “I thought I was scared of heights before I went on the giant swing [at Robin Wood], but now I can conquer anything!”
Numerous Learning Opportunities
Children throughout the school have numerous leadership opportunities. Appointment to such positions is a rigorous process of selection which can include an application letter, presentation and interview before appointment – there is no guarantee of a job which promotes resilience and stamina. Children take their roles and responsibilities seriously and demonstrate pride in their achievements. They are articulate and talk positively about the work in their books with copious work generally being well presented. They show a positive work ethic, resilience when things get tough, and their friendliness and politeness impacts very positively on their engagement in learning, and hence their achievements and high standards. All ages are confident to strike up a conversation and tell visitors about their great school and what they are learning about – it is a delight to have lunch with them!
Safeguarding Procedures are Robust
Safeguarding procedures are robust, with all staff and children knowing how to stay safe and look after each other. A strong caring ethos is developed through the Catholic faith. The staff care deeply for the children, but the Head Teacher demonstrates this through her commitment to provide the staff with a reasonable work-life balance. She thoughtfully, and consciously, balances the demands of the school in providing a high standard of education with her staff’s needs by, for example, ensuring sufficient release time to undertake their duties, or not being dragged into endless meetings after school.
Parents love this school. They recognise that the staff “go the extra mile” and the positive impact this has on their children. They appreciate how knowledgeable the school is about their children, and about the parents too. One parent spoke openly about how difficult she had found leaving her child at school when he started, but the school had worked with her to overcome her anxieties, often giving her a quick phone call just to reassure her that all was ok.
Governors are very supportive and knowledgeable about St Clare’s. They see their role as being “champions” for the children, and they regularly challenge the Head Teacher or other leaders on initiatives. They are well-led, with skills complementing each other. New Governors undertake an induction plan and training via the Multi-Academy Trust which is well received. Governors are linked to a class so see the progress of the children over time; they are encouraged to come into school and be active participants. This was demonstrated by a Governor who was working with Year 2 and had brought in resources for a topic to share and leave with the children.
Strong Links with the Local Community
The school, as part of the MAT, demonstrates positive and strong links with neighbouring schools and the link Secondary. In a forward-thinking gesture, the school has agreed to release one teacher to work in the Secondary school as a Maths teacher which will support the transition of all Year 6 children from across the cluster into Year 7 in due course.
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.
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