St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Winsford in Cheshire, achieves Centre of Excellence status for the first time.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School is a larger than average school and all aspects are based on the teaching of Christ and the values, beliefs and traditions of the Catholic Faith. It is part of the Diocese of Shrewsbury family. St. Joseph’s currently has 350 pupils on roll serving the diverse catchment area of Winsford in Cheshire. St. Joseph’s throughout the assessment discussed and showed evidence of how they provide a dynamic and vibrant environment where every child acquires a high-quality education and an unforgettable childhood experience. All children, staff, parents and wider stakeholders feel valued, and excellence and enjoyment are embedded in all they do. Speaking to members of the community it was clear that all were contributing to ensure that inclusion is at all levels and that there was a desire from everyone to ensure
‘consistency across the board for all to learn and that no-one is left out.’
They continued to share that their vision for the school is that St. Joseph’s is a school that
‘will not stand still; it is a community which looks for new paths to set, a forward thinking and innovative school.’
Promoting Inclusion for All
Inclusive practice comes naturally within St. Joseph’s and all learners access a high-quality education, professionals are passionate and understand the school’s ethos and ensure
‘all achieve and all barriers are removed which stops this happening.’
Clear visions of the school are to be a ‘family’, a wide family that ensures they grow together through;
‘faith, hope, love, fun and learning for all.’
It is a school that is imaginative in their approach, pioneering in ambitions, inspirational to people, effective in their outcomes and challenging in aspirations. There is a strong commitment to this vision to promote inclusion for all learners. It was clear that the people make St. Joseph’s special; they talk passionately about the inclusion journey they have been on since joining the IQM family and throughout the day everyone shared how they see everyone in their school as one of their huge inclusive family. They are a team who are recognised as being innovative and will not stop until they see themselves as the best they can be. This has resulted in them being identified by external professionals, in particular their ‘Winsford Education Partnership’, (a network of all the Winsford schools), as having inclusive practice within school and it being an ‘Area of Excellence’. As a result of this, staff have been asked to present their work to the network of schools and inspire all to enhance opportunities and raise aspirations for all children. The school’s inclusive education has over the past three years been a continuous process, transforming their practice to support all learners. This has been achieved through engaging actively and reflectively with the guidance of the ‘Inclusion Quality Mark Inclusive School Award’. They have developed impressively strong working relationships with a wide range of professionals creating strong partnerships. This has then led them to supporting other schools in the area such as the work they have done with their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team and seeing them become a ‘Lead Practitioner School.’
Commitment to Continue Their Journey with IQM
A considerable strength of the school is how the professionals recognise that they have the permission to be creative in how they approach and lead their areas of responsibility. The Inclusion Lead has ensured that there was an attention to detail within the Inclusion Quality Mark assessment paperwork and has modelled a strong ‘capacity to listen’ to both children and adults. With the support of a well-established team, she continues to drive the IQM areas of assessment making it fun and interesting for all to be involved. Staff are relentless in setting clear success indicators from the outset, the whole team was able to share the way that they have co-operated to ensure that inclusion is just what happens and one member of staff who shared;
‘while we have done things that seem small, they have been massive to individuals.’
It was clear that they all share the goal of wanting to work to achieve IQM Centre of Excellence status this year. The evidence presented and willingness of all to discuss their continuing learning and share their work showed a consistent approach to the ethos of being a school where all are valued for their individuality and how they continue to respond to the growing complexity of their community. They demonstrate a strong commitment and desire to continue on the journey with IQM to ensure all needs of their children are supported. While the assessor could not visit, they made sure that the evidence was impressively presented in a number of different ways to show their commitment to meeting all areas of the IQM Inclusive School Award and continuing to develop inclusive practice using their reflective experiences.
A Rich and Engaging Curriculum
Governors and Senior Leaders understand how critical it is to create an inclusive environment at St. Joseph’s and they understand and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the unique community they serve. There are a number of different highly complex needs, home experiences and languages spoken within the school, so they have created a bespoke learning environment that supports all their children and the diverse range of abilities they have. There is a rich and engaging curriculum that provides innovation and challenge. Children enjoy memorable experiences enabling them to acquire a multitude of skills and allowing them to succeed as individuals. Throughout the website and Twitter account the concentration and enjoyment is evident on pupils’ faces that are shared with parents on the school’s weekly newsletter.
The Introduction of Burt
On the assessment day their work was on introducing ‘Burt’ – a purple dragon who helps pupils to ‘Breathe, Understand, Regulate and Think.’ This has been particularly effective in allowing the experiences of individuals to be passed onto ‘Burt’ allowing them to speak through a third object, allowing staff to support through the honesty he brings out. This has even progressed to their pupils who are ‘Burt Buddies’ who work to empower their peers to find strategies to support them moving on from situations that can cause social and emotional feelings. Impressively Burt has his own song to share with all on the website.
Praise for the Support Professionals
Support professionals within the school are highly valued and they are being developed to become a strong supportive team who work to ensure children have access to resources that support their learning. Many have worked at the school for a large number of years and seen the school developments and they provide the pupils with a growing number of explicit strategies. One success shared was the developing work on the trauma informed practice that has happened and how they can now support pupils with examples to scaffold their learning and to integrate related concepts to aid their understanding taking account of how the pupils are feeling at any point in their journey. Pupils who face barriers to learning benefit greatly from this strong and well-educated team of professionals who tailor provision ensuring that children achieve their potential.
Safe and Welcoming Environment
This safe and welcoming environment supports the development of a life-long love of learning, the children develop curiosity and inquisitiveness while being guided and encouraged to reflect and take the next steps in their learning. The curriculum is taught through active participation as equal members of the community and the results are well recorded through data that shows excellent academic standards over time. (Ofsted reports).
Strong Pupil Wellbeing
There is strong ‘Pupil wellbeing’, where they are encouraged to have their voices heard and be part of the wider community. They can take this opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas and plan events in the local community, they are known as the ‘Mini Vinnies.’ They are part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society England and Wales, supporting making a difference in their own community. Through this approach of valuing and giving all pupils named responsibilities such as Sport/PE leaders, Eco Warriors, School Parliament, Junior Safety Officers and Digital Leaders behaviour is exemplary, and children work positively with each other and school management. The assessor asked how pupils had supported the school was told that it was during the design and implementation of the ‘problem solving wheel’ used by Burt. She commented
‘Pupils can speak openly here, and no one is left out, our problem-solving wheel really supports self-regulation and was developed with pupils, for pupils.’
Learning is well planned, and time is never wasted. Children have access to appropriate materials and practitioners that model energy of creative thinking, drawing everyone on board. They encourage children to think and discover answers together. They have a skill in connecting learning to real live cultural experiences and this is a driving force as to why the school enjoys an excellent reputation within the local community. They regularly encourage visitors into school to enhance the curriculum. There is an impressive and extensive offer of extra curriculum clubs and children have a choice about what they participate in. The focus is one of enjoyment and opportunity, which will allow children to excel. Choices range from ‘chill out and chat’ club, dodgeball, table tennis, eco warrior club, mindfulness, yoga, archery, football, break dance and hip-hop grooves and drama to name just a few.
Very Inclusive Support During Lockdown
During the pandemic it is important to mention that the roles of the individuals within the school were crucial during lockdown and the roadmap out of this. Many had to play an important part in maintaining contact with families, providing remote support and advice, or visiting pupils in their own home. There was a realisation from parents that they needed the school and were grateful for the support that was established during partial closure which was manned 24/7 to ensure St. Joseph’s continued to support their community during a time of need. A governor willingly shared how the staff were
‘really passionate and inclusive to them, ensuring that there are no barriers and if there, they are reduced or removed’
During the assessment day there were many discussions on the kindness, helpfulness and steadfastness of staff and how they work to connect with every child and adult in ‘their’ time of need whenever that may have been.
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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