St Mark’s CE Primary School in Lambeth achieves the Inclusive School Award.
Inclusivity permeates the character, ethos and practice of St Mark’s C.E. Primary School. It is creatively led and driven by the Headteacher and Senior Team who have the respect and appreciation of staff, children, Governors, parents and the local community. The richness of diversity within the school’s community and pupils is confidently presented as a positive experience and something to be valued and celebrated.
Teachers Feel Appreciated
In this context, despite the range of barriers to learning experienced by many of the school’s pupils (75% EAL, 52% Pupil Premium), there is a clear commitment to ensuring that all children will be supported in achieving their very best outcomes.
Communication between stakeholders is strong, ensuring that all share the values, understand the character and contribute to the direction of the school. Teachers strive to provide the very best for their pupils and feel appreciated and well supported by the Senior Team and Governors.
Supporting Individuals’ Learning
Structures and systems facilitate a clear and transparent approach to identifying needs and the implementation of a wide range of support strategies to support individuals’ learning. High quality teaching is prioritised and staff participate in a range of training and professional development activities to become as skilled as possible in meeting the needs of all. Staff seek out and create high quality concrete and virtual resources, which they judiciously use to motivate and appropriately challenge their pupils. Teachers and Teaching Assistants plan tasks and activities together to enable children to meet their targets. Professionals from other agencies and organisations are engaged to work with pupils, parents and staff to support children’s wellbeing and learning, ensuring that inclusivity is at the heart of school practice. This reflects the Chair of Governors’ description of the school culture as one of ‘togetherness’.
Compassion, Respect and Kindness
Standards are robustly monitored and there is clear action planning to further develop the school’s capacity to effectively provide for its pupils and community. Academic learning is skillfully interwoven with personal development within a stimulating, calm environment which promotes inclusivity through displays and classroom conduct. The breadth of curriculum and learning activities offered recognises that all are unique in their skills and talents and provides opportunities for children to develop these talents and skills in a wide variety of areas. Children are simultaneously encouraged to take on a range of responsibilities and become positive, confident and accountable individuals, showing compassion, respect and kindness to their peers and their community.
Achievement is Celebrated
Achievement is regularly showcased and celebrated in a variety of forms. Rewards are linked to core and school values endorsing the importance of individual, personal qualities and attitudes for children. The importance of teamwork and mutual support is emphasised as groups and classes are also rewarded. Consequently, pupils have positive attitudes towards school, enjoy learning and are rarely distracted in lessons.
Parents Feel Listened to and Respected
Parents have every confidence in St Mark’s C.E. Primary School and it was warming to hear how appreciative they are for the education which their children are receiving and the support which they, themselves, receive from the school. They feel welcome, listened to and respected, acknowledging that the school goes ‘the extra mile and more’ for the benefit of their children. They highlighted the range of workshops provided, helping them to be the best parents they can be in supporting their children and working in partnership with the school.
The approachability of all staff means that parents feel confident in raising any difficulties, concerns or questions which they might have, knowing that they will be received empathetically, taken seriously and addressed appropriately. Parents were particularly complimentary about the ways the school is managing the challenges of COVID-19 in striving to provide good quality teaching and learning experiences for pupils, alongside pastoral care in ‘scooping up’ children to prevent any ‘falling through the net’. They consider information and communication to be excellent and are both grateful and proud that their children attend St Mark’s C.E. Primary School, frequently referring to it as ‘a family’ where ‘everyone supports each other’.
All Pupils are Included
A major strength of St Mark’s C.E. Primary School is the leadership’s determination to provide a wealth of experiences for children which they might not otherwise have, by drawing upon institutions and organisations within the community, which it perceives as a rich and diverse resource to enhance the learning of pupils. Strong collaboration has resulted in children receiving expert tuition, coaching and high quality learning experiences in a range of sports, arts, academic and community activities where they can all explore and develop their knowledge, skills, particular talents and interests. Timing and funding of the vast majority of these means that all pupils are included. The enthusiasm of the children I met in discussing their activities and trips was almost tangible.
Contributing to Their Community
All children are encouraged to contribute to their community through charitable collections and gifts, performances and environmental activities in their school garden. The resilience and determination of staff to cope with the current restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic are to be commended. The school’s capacity to provide its normal menu of school life has clearly been diminished but the staff have developed organically and have adapted to current circumstances. The Leadership Team is fervently focused on keeping children hooked into learning, whilst also ensuring their wellbeing during this difficult time. It recognises the importance of caring for staff and supporting parents in steering through this crisis period, which is much appreciated by both.
A Rich Inclusive Experience
It was a pleasure meeting children, staff, parents, Governors and members of the local community virtually and I am so sorry not to have been able to visit in person. However, the achievement of St Mark’s C.E. Primary School in creating a safe, stimulating, environment where its diverse community can be happy, motivated and supported to learn and achieve was very evident. The capacity of a small school to provide such a rich inclusive experience for its pupils is highly creditable and testament to the passion, innovation, determination, strength of purpose and focus of those involved in making it happen. St Mark’s C.E. Primary School lives its Christian values, seeks and shares expertise and, as described by the Head of the local Learning Cluster, is “generous-hearted, open-minded and open-doored”.
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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