St Wilfrid’s CE Primary School in Manchester has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Inclusive Values and Practice
Since the last IQM Assessment in November 2017, St Wilfrid’s have been on a journey of rapid development and improvements as part of the St James and Emmanuel Academy Trust. Ofsted assessed St Wilfrid’s CofE Primary School as ‘Good’ in all areas in March 2019. It is clear from the evidence submitted that the school has a deeply embedded commitment throughout the school to inclusive values and practice.
Very Happy Parents
Their school mission statement of Belonging, Believing and Becoming really comes to life as you spend time looking through the school website and speaking to all sections of the school community from pupils and parents through to teachers and Governors. Parents spoken to as part of the IQM assessment clearly felt that their children were cared for as individuals and that the school would also support them as parents through difficult times and beyond. Without exception this wide range of parents were unanimous in their praise for the way the school communicated with parents and had supported them during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular. Transition arrangements have improved over recent years and parents feel their children are given more support at key times, for example, moving from one school year to the next.
Pupils can Influence Change
Pupils spoke with unusual maturity about how they were able to influence change and suggest improvements at school but also about their responsibilities to others in their local community and the wider global world. One pupil spoken to during the IQM assessment relayed with confidence about how he had raised money for the Barnabus Homeless Charity in Manchester, why he felt this was important and what he had decided to do to help. Another pupil spoke about his passion for environmental issues and how his suggestion of a trial “paper free day” had been taken up by the school. Pupils throughout the school are enthusiastic about learning. The new PHSE curriculum and other Personal Development strategies have made a huge impact on children’s resilience levels and understanding of how to become independent and successful members of their community.
A Diverse Range of Role Models
Great efforts are made by the school to provide a diverse range of role models and engaging programmes of study which includes children from every background. For example, pupils learn about Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai alongside Emily Pankhurst and Florence Nightingale in the curriculum module related to Significant People in History.
Pupil Voice is Strong
Celebrations of Achievement take place across school for character as well as academic ability. Children are praised for their independence, resilience, teamwork, as well as for high performance in more traditional tests or assessments. Pupil Voice is strong at St Wilfrid’s, the range of groups such as School Council, Eco Council, Ethos Group, all encourage pupils to discuss issues that matter to them and influence decision making at the school, by expressing their views and ideas to each other and to the school leaders.
Pupils Take up Leadership Roles
Pupils are also supported to take up leadership roles, whether through becoming Prefects, Playground Buddies or leading the regular worship services in Church. A strong Christian ethos permeates every aspect of the school’s development. The passion of the staff came across strongly in their interviews, both their desire to enable every child to succeed and their commitment to self-improvement.
Building Blocks of Learning
Teaching staff spoke about recent training they had received from Dominic Hudson which had given them knowledge of how to use a diverse range of questions in the classrooms to include all children, challenge all children at an appropriate level and promote higher order thinking skills. They recalled how the training had encouraged the use of open questions which have more than one correct answer. Open questions can encourage participation from children with a wide range of ability without fear of getting the ‘wrong’ answer and also enrich the learning experience by encouraging pupils to make links with previous understanding. This style of teaching naturally builds on prior knowledge and connects building blocks of learning in a way that supports pupils with a range of needs such as EAL or difficulties with attention and focus. School Leaders are keenly aware of areas for improvement as identified in their data analysis, School Improvement Priorities and Governing Body minutes. Their determination to engage staff, embed improvement strategies and make a difference in these areas is evident at all levels.
Leadership development has been a priority since the last assessment and this commitment to distributed responsibility has proved very successful in driving improvements.
Supportive Collegial Work Environment
Staff feel a sense of ownership within their areas of responsibility as well as accountability, as one member of staff told me,
“We are encouraged to try new things, pushed out of our comfort zones, but also supported when things go wrong”.
I have no doubt that this supportive collegial work environment where responsibility and authority is shared equally by teacher colleagues encourages new ideas to flourish and progress to be made.
Honest and Open Professional Conversations
Teaching staff discussed the importance of language in encouraging honest and open professional conversations. Book Scrutiny has become Book Celebration and Lesson Observation has become an opportunity to share good practice.
Strong Partnership Working
Teaching Assistants report a close working relationship with teachers, they feel valued as professionals and there is strong partnership working in place. Support staff are given access to lesson plans beforehand, so that they can prepare children by pre-teaching vocabulary for instance which increases their ability to access the learning. This might be relevant for pupils with SEND but is also relevant for pupils with limited experiences and a deprived background.
Supporting Different Pupil Needs
Teaching Assistants report that they work mainly within the classroom and the school has an ethos of including pupils wherever possible through targeted support that might be given by the teacher themselves rather than the support assistant. In line with recognised good practice – interventions are targeted, personalised to pupil needs and their impact is regularly monitored. In this way withdrawal from the classroom is limited and different pupil needs supported within the classroom.
Reggio Emilia Approach
One of the changes at St Wilfrid’s in recent years has been the development of Reggio themed learning environments. In the Reggio Emilia approach the classroom is viewed as a place that is welcoming, aesthetically pleasing, culturally representative of community, embraces nature and filled with purposeful materials. The evidence I was given demonstrated that this approach together with associated teaching strategies has supported children to be more able to solve their own problems, engage with their community and environment, welcome new experiences, build social skills, express themselves with confidence and enjoy learning.
Rigorous Safeguarding Arrangements
There is evidence of very strong Pastoral Support at St Wilfrid’s including rigorous safeguarding arrangements.
Strong leadership reinforces SEND as a priority for St Wilfrid’s. A very detailed SEND Policy backed up by interviews with a range of staff indicate that there is a collective responsibility for SEND children and that teaching staff across St Wilfrid’s are aware of their responsibilities to this group. The effectiveness of classroom teaching is considered before assuming a pupil has SEND. St Wilfrid’s uses a range of screening and assessment tools to support identification of SEND; such as the Wellcomm Language Assessment.
Strong Partnerships Exist
Strong partnerships exist between St Wilfrid’s and a range of external specialist agencies and organisations to support and advise teaching staff on strategies for, for example, Autism or Social & Emotional difficulties.
Vision for Improvement
A detailed Accessibility Plan is available on the school website and indicates a clear vision for improvement.
Wellbeing of the Whole School Community
I was hugely impressed by the commitment of St Wilfrid’s to the wellbeing of the whole school community – pupils, parents and staff. The amount of work they had put into this area was significant, particularly at a time of national crisis.
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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