St Francis’ Catholic Primary School in Newham achieves the Inclusive School Award.
Children are at the Centre of All Decisions
St Francis’ Catholic Primary School is voluntary aided and has two forms of entry. In 2019 it joined Our Lady of Grace Multi-Academy Trust. It has two nurseries, one for 3 months to 3-year-olds, the Heaven Sent Nursery and the other for 3-4 year olds. Most of the pupils are from Black African and Black Caribbean heritage, but few have English as an additional language. 9.3% of the pupils are on the SEND register; there are 4 pupils with an EHCP and 4 looked after children. Its last Ofsted before it was academised, was in November 2016 when it was graded as ‘Good’. The Headteacher is an Executive Head in another local school. When she arrived in St Francis’ eight years ago, it was in Special Measures. Since then the school has been transformed. She, together with her Leadership Team, have built a staff who are reflective practitioners who put children at the centre of all decisions.
Displays Inspire and Inform
The 1960’s building is in a densely populated urban area of the London Borough of Newham. The gentrification of certain areas of Stratford have not yet reached as far as Maryland. The playgrounds are attractive and have various climbing frames and a climbing wall. Once inside the building, children and visitors are greeted by very attractive displays that inspire and inform. There is a sensory room and an indoor reading garden in the nursery.
A Passionate and Able IT Leader
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the school was already using Google Drive which meant that it was well placed to start online education when the children were at home. Staff soon learnt how to use Google Classroom to support their delivery of home learning led by the passionate and able IT Leader. She leads by example modelling IT equipment and methods of delivery in her classroom. She not only supports the staff but helped parents to get online and assist with their children’s home learning. Parents and carers have found the online clips and advice very useful.
Supporting Staff and Children
The Learning Mentor is available to children who may find articulating themselves difficult. She is there for them if they are having issues in school or at home. She takes groups in the afternoon for those experiencing friendship problems. She is available to the staff who seek her advice with certain children who are facing various challenges. She is also a good link with the parents. She has successfully run the Triple P Parenting Programme assisting parents to choose the strategies that will help them raise happy, confident children, manage misbehaviours and set rules and routines in the home that everyone respects.
Children Feel Empowered
Children enjoy being in school and those at home are missing their friends and the routines of school life. They thought that the Reflection Room is good as it is a quiet space for them to think about their behaviour. They like the fact that they have a School Council and a Junior Leadership Team. One Year 6 pupil said,
“We see school differently to the teachers”.
They feel empowered to make decisions which have helped, besides other things, create the outdoor gym which has proved popular. They feel safe in school and know which member of staff to find if they need to talk to someone confidentially. They do not see any bullying.
The pupils know their targets and like and understand the marking system. They enjoy having a one-to-one dialogue with their teacher to discuss how they can make progress. Parents receive a copy of the child’s targets. They like the clubs that were offered before the pandemic these included Art, Chess, Violin, Football, Coding, Karate, Tennis, Music Tech, Multi-sports, Maths, Reading, English, Debating, Baking and Bowling. Although they happened over a year ago, they remembered many of the visits that they had been on including the Theatre Royal Stratford East pantomime, the Science Museum, the Discovery Centre, Colchester Zoo, Kidzania and the residential trip to Fairplay House in Essex. One pupil said that the staff treated them like their own children and one missed the food.
A Rigorous Monitoring System
There is a rigorous monitoring system which is moderated by other schools in the MAT. Books are regularly scrutinised and data is analysed. If certain groups are under-performing, staff drill down to see which individuals may be needing extra support. The planned work is differentiated, usually for three groups in the class. Within each group the children can choose their own level of challenge. There is a traffic-light system where children start on green and aim to go up to bronze, silver and gold. Awards are given for pastoral and academic achievements. Each class has a marble jar and when it has reached a particular level the children negotiate a reward with their teacher.
Every Child Matters
This is a school where every child matters. The staff share the Head’s passion for ensuring that every pupil has an equal opportunity to succeed. She encourages a variety of teaching styles and expects to see outcomes through, art, drama, practical work as well as in writing. The teaching is monitored through learning walks, formal observations once a term, book looks and pupil interviews. Teachers have plenty of opportunities to develop themselves. The school offers many CPD courses and staff often feedback to the rest of the team during INSET time. The teaching is supported by a hardworking, dedicated and enthusiastic team of Teaching Assistants. They work with individuals or small groups usually within class. They are consulted with the planning and mark their children’s work using the same diagnostic marking sheets as the teachers. They too have received a lot of training. They feel valued as their contributions and suggestions are taken on board. They model behaviour and are proud to work at St Francis’ Catholic Primary School.
Very Happy Parents
Parents are pleased to send their children here . Some travel from a distance outside of the catchment area. One parent said that they chose St Francis’ because it is an inclusive school. They know that their children are cared for and well looked after. They appreciate that someone is always available to talk to them and that they will be heard. They find the staff very approachable. They like all the different forms of communication and are grateful for the support that has been offered to them during the lockdowns. They are looking forward to the return of the coffee mornings when workshops take place on areas of concern such as Internet Safety or Maths Boosters. They feel part of this community and liked coming into the class assemblies, the summer fayre and other school events. They know that the standard and quality of education is good and are grateful of the hard work from all of the staff. One parent said that she is so pleased with the speech therapy her child has received,
“I couldn’t have asked for a better school”.
A Supportive and Nurturing Environment
One of the Governors who works in a local IQM Flagship School supported St Francis’s application to achieve IQM Inclusive School Award status. She recognises that this school offers children a very supportive and nurturing environment, especially for those who have ASD or who need speech and language support or have a hearing impairment or have social or emotional issues. She said that the Governing Body fully supports the inclusive ethos. They feel involved and are consulted on many issues. They are well informed and understand how to hold the Headteacher and SLT to account whilst fully supporting them. They feel valued and appreciated for the work that they do but they also highly value the work of the staff.
Helping Children to Thrive
The Speech and Language Therapist supports those with developmental language disorders, those with ASD or those with high levels of need. She works with them individually and also supports those staff working with these children. She provided Word Aware staff training which supports all of the children to develop their vocabulary but particularly for those with certain needs. All pupils have vocabulary lessons. She knows the staff at St Francis’ Catholic Primary School are adaptive to new ideas and has a close working relationship with the Inclusion Leader. She believes that this school is inclusive as it supports all of its children to access the whole curriculum and helps them to thrive.
Working Closely with the Local Community
The school works closely with its local community. It is currently supporting Hestia, a London organisation supporting adults and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The parents are very generous in their support throughout the year. In Citizenship Week the school supported a Donkey Library in Ethiopia and also getting books into the local area. The children loved International Day when specialist dance instructors came in to teach them different dancing styles. At the Christmas Bazaar children bring in things to sell and the money goes to the chosen charity. They support the Newham Foodbank and signpost parents to Mind, Shelter, The Money Coach Service, DV Support, the Refugee and Migrant Project and CAMHS. The Arts Leader in the school has created a choir that is well respected in the neighbourhood. They have sung in Westfield and at the reopening of the refurbished Maryland Station for the new Elizabeth train line. The choir, guitar and ukulele groups perform at Easter and Christmas concerts. The Watoto Choir from Uganda visited the school in 2017 and 2019 inspiring the children with their spectacular professional productions.
Supporting Lifelong Learners
Having spoken to so many people during the day it is clear that St Francis Catholic Primary School offers all of its children a safe and caring environment supporting them to become lifelong learners. The staff team have embraced the Headteacher’s inclusive ethos and are constantly striving to offer more. The Inclusion Leader is passionate about driving this agenda forward.
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: email@example.com for further details.
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