St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Newton Aycliffe has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
St Mary’s RC Primary School is a smaller than average 4 to 11 primary school serving the community of Newton Aycliffe in County Durham and is part of the Holy Family parish.
Although the number of pupils who have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan is broadly average, the school has a higher than average proportion of pupils supported by additional funding for special educational needs and/or disabilities. A higher than average proportion of pupils are eligible for free school meals. Nearly all the pupils are of white British heritage.
The school roll has increased over recent years, an indication of its growing popularity within the area and its fulfilment to parents that, “The values and learning that are nurtured in our school enable achievement in education and beyond.”
Inclusion is at the Heart of Everything
The senior leadership of the school have inclusion at the heart of everything they do. They are passionate about identifying and meeting the needs of pupils and their families and have created a team who fully support one another in their pursuit to make every child matter. The headteacher, ably supported by key leaders and an experienced governing body lead by positive example. Staff demonstrate a commitment to improving the life chances of children, with each member playing a vital part in providing the warm, inclusive ethos which was evidenced throughout the visit.
The Inclusion Leader is relentless in providing positive outcomes for pupils, developing strong, sustainable networks which support the needs of families. She has ensured many successes for children through her reflective and evaluative practice. This is a school which goes the extra mile.
Nurturing Family Feel
The school is very welcoming and has worked hard to establish its nurturing family feel. The welcome at the front door sets the tone and demonstrates the school’s determination to work in partnership with parents. Families were greeted warmly after the weekend and children entered excitedly with arms full of things they couldn’t wait to share with their teachers. The inclusive vision and ethos, ‘Guided by faith, nurtured through love, inspired to achieve’ is made explicit throughout the school, clearly articulated and evident within its policies.
Inclusive and Stimulating Environment
The environment is inclusive and stimulating, providing a backdrop for pupils’ creativity and imagination both indoors and out. Pupils’ work is displayed to wonderful effect and their efforts are valued.
This is a school which listens to children, through a wide range of methods which are often suggested and selected by pupils themselves. Those pupils who hold positions of responsibility are proud to have the role and are articulate when describing how they can improve their school.
Buzz of Learning
The head boy and head girl were given the task of showing me around their school. Together we experienced the calm atmosphere, the buzz of learning and the many greetings and smiles from courteous pupils. My two guides were visibly proud of what they had to show and tell.
Vibrant Environment and Colourful Displays
Walls, corridors and classrooms were vibrant and full of colourful display. In the hall were many examples of how pupils are recognised and rewarded and showed evidence of the many celebrations of pupil achievement. During liturgy a thoughtful assembly provided spiritual food for thought and gave opportunity for the school to demonstrate inclusion at its best. Outdoors I was shown where to run, jump and play, where to find quiet contemplation in nature and where to pray.
Being Part of the St Mary’s Family
Over lunchtime pupils were eager to engage in conversation and to tell me about their success within school and what they love about being part of the family of St Mary’s. Sporting achievements were celebrated, and pupils pointed out super displays which demonstrated their understanding of British Values as well as the Hall of Fame which matched pupils’ aspirations to career choices. The nutrition group (SNAG) gave pointers about healthy eating and were planning to create flyers to give advice to pupils on packed lunches.
Children Played Happily Together
In the playground young children played happily with the older pupils who, together with staff, ensured there was support and encouragement for a range of games and activities. Adults here modelled play and buddies helped children to join in and make friends.
Pupil Representatives were Articulate
Pupil representatives spoke articulately about their contribution to the life and ethos of the school and how the school listened to them. They reflected maturely on positive changes they had made, the places and people they had seen and how they look out for one another to make their school safe and happy. Fundraising for those less fortunate than themselves was important to them, as was putting something back into their community. Throughout the day, pupils were polite and engaging and the inclusive ethos was palpable.
Sources of Evidence
This is the first assessment of the school and was conducted over one day during which time I met with:-
• IQM coordinator and SENCO
• School Chair of Governors
• Deputy Headteacher
• Representative of the school’s pastoral lead
• Parent representatives
• Lunchtime supervisor
• Pupils, including those representing School Council, SNAG, Buddies and Mini Vinnies.
I also conducted a tour of the learning environment indoors and out, attended liturgy and undertook a book look.
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.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.