St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Preston in Lancashire achieves the Inclusive School Award.
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School is a warm and welcoming community which takes pride in living out its mission statement that “You are precious in my eyes.” The school provides each child with a sense of belonging and a clear sense of identity, which encompasses the ideal of
“This is me; this is where I belong.”
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School is a voluntary-aided school with 305 pupils on its roll from Reception to Y6. There is also a nursery offering 26 morning or afternoon places. The school is situated in a culturally diverse and highly underprivileged area where 40% of pupils are eligible to receive Free School Meals (FSM). Recognised as ‘Good’ in all areas by Ofsted in September 2019, the leadership team is ambitious in striving to give every child the knowledge and skills needed to succeed. The Head is determined to overcome the “disparity of opportunity” prevalent in the school community. The school is mostly White British with increasing numbers of families from Eastern Europe and Asia. Up to thirty different languages are spoken including Polish, Romanian and Czech. The percentage of children with English as an additional language is currently 46.2%. The school has 36 children on the SEND register and 4 have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The main areas of need are Speech, Language and Communication and Social, Emotional and Mental Health.
Building Strong Foundations
Clear emphasis is placed on developing basic skills for all with reading receiving the highest priority. Classes are kept small in early years and KS1 to ensure greater time can be given to developing a good foundation for future learning. From September 2021, the IQM Coordinator told me, smaller single-aged classes will also be organised in Y3 and Y4 to support all children in regaining any loss of learning over the pandemic. Progress is on an upward trajectory, based on the school’s continual focus on improving teaching for every single child and meeting their specific needs. The IQM Coordinator also described the continuous praise and rewards for all children to encourage them to develop a strong self-belief. Examples of good work are shared on the school website, with parents on class dojo and in bright displays around the school.
Achieving the IQM Award is regarded by the school as a celebration of their successful journey undertaken over several years, with everyone working together under the energetic leadership of its Headteacher. Prior to this, the school was perceived negatively within the local area, staff morale was low and pupil achievement was hampered by lack of structure and low expectations. As the Chair of Governors explained, the Headteacher has absolutely transformed the school, bringing experience and a warm personality together with the deep conviction, from the bottom of her heart, that everyone is valuable. The Head has built a team by coaching and nurturing all staff, winning confidence, and trust with her door always open.
Mutual trust and respect are key to the supportive relationships which have been formed both within the school and with the parents and local community. This change of culture has resulted in high standards of behaviour throughout the school, clearly demonstrated by the reduction in fixed-term exclusions. The IQM Coordinator told me how the school has really turned around and all the children comment on how much it has changed. This year is the first in many years when the school is over-subscribed for Reception, as so many children want to come.
In Partnership with Parents
The school responds, unfailingly, to the needs of the local community. The Family Support Worker and a Teaching Assistant work closely with vulnerable families to ensure that they receive the support they need, including accessing dental treatment and obtaining school uniform. This also includes support from charities when necessary. During lockdown and the increase in poverty and unemployment, school has also delivered food parcels and has provided a food market facility. The IQM Coordinator described how some families do not stay in the area long and some children leave and then later return. As she emphasised, however,
“the school is ready no matter who walks in the door.”
Increasing the number of staff supporting vulnerable families has resulted in trustful relationships and families knowing they can turn to the school for support. One of the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) described the importance of getting to know families and giving them a familiar face, inviting them to share concerns as well as providing practical advice with issues such as housing. Emotional support is also provided for children when needed, for example, in times of bereavement including time for talking.
The multi-ethnic community of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary is valued as a contributory factor to the success of the school. A governor described the great opportunities available for children speaking different languages and being ready to value the many and varied aspects of the whole school community. The school is also keen to build on its success, recognising such issues as the need to involve more fathers, uncles, and grandfathers in school life.
Inclusion Enables Success for All
Inclusive practice is at the heart of its ethos and is embraced by the whole school community. Strategic leadership in the school also recognises areas for future development in the understanding that the journey is never complete. As the Chair of Governors emphasised, in alignment with the Catholic values at its foundation,
“everyone is welcome, everybody matters and everyone can be the best they can be”.
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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