St William’s Catholic Primary School in Wigan, has achieved Centre of Excellence status.
Welcoming, Nurturing, Diverse and Vibrant
St. William’s Catholic Primary School is a welcoming, nurturing, diverse and vibrant school to visit. Described by one parent as:
“a happy and trustworthy school”
Staff, Governors and pupils are clearly living out their Catholic vision.
Inclusion is at the Heart of All Aspects of its Work
Inclusion is at the heart of all aspects of its work and pupils thrive in an environment where everyone works together to secure success. The school boasts an increasing number of ethnically diverse students and pupils exude exceptional tolerance and respect for one another. They conduct their daily work supporting and looking out for each other whilst developing Christian attitudes and values.
On an Improvement Journey
Over the past nine years, St. William’s Catholic Primary School has been on an improvement journey and has maintained its status as a “Good” school by Ofsted just last year. “Leadership is strong. They know the strengths of the school and where it needs to improve further. They have taken effective action to reverse the dip in pupils’ achievement.” Ofsted November 2018.
Across the school the overriding and fundamental aim is to provide pupils with a quality education and as stated in the school’s prospectus: “By following Jesus”, standing side by side we will nurture each other to fulfil our hopes and dreams.
Visible in Practice
This Mission Statement was visible in practice and underpinned the comments made by the Inclusion Governor who knew the school very well through her 25-year long association with the school.
The learning environment at St. William’s Catholic Primary School is welcoming, calm and thoughtful. Every space is used effectively. The entrance highlights the school’s aims through a creative and stimulating display, which encourages everyone to “DREAM!” This acronym stands for:
• Develop trusting relationships.
• Respect, love and forgive all.
• Encourage curiosity, confidence and achieve.
• Aspire to be the best we can be.
• Make a difference by working together.
It is a real pleasure to see this aim present in all that is visible in the school and is reflected in the actions of those who are part of the school. For example, every half term two DREAM ambassadors from each class are selected to remind and celebrate the whole school community of the whole school motto: If you can dream it, you can achieve it!
Achievement is High
Pupil achievement is high and they are encouraged to do their best irrespective of ability, disability, background, ethnicity or gender. Standards in St. William’s Catholic Primary School have improved gradually over the years and this has had a great impact on the whole learning community. Despite entering with knowledge and skills below standards typically expected of their age, pupils make good progress across the school.
Nurturing a Love of Learning
There is a dynamic working atmosphere throughout the school with pupils working enthusiastically together in groups, pairs and individually. The school is focused on nurturing a love of learning and supports all children in making the right choices socially, morally, spiritually, culturally and emotionally.
Growth in Confidence
This love of learning is a strong feature of the teacher’s approach to learning to write. ‘Star Writer’ displays take pride of place in all classrooms and in the corridors, from the youngest in the Nursery to Year 6. As a result, children pride themselves in marked tasks as well as writing for real purpose. All the children spoke highly of their celebratory Friday assemblies where they receive certificates and rewards. These enable them to gain a sense of achievement and to grow in confidence.
The Inclusion Co-ordinators during their tour of the school shared that:
“It’s great to have lots of ‘break out’ spaces. These work well for us and are used well by the children, including the fish tank, which has a calming effect.”
Displays are Well Executed
Displays, all co-ordinated using buff coloured hessian backing, are particularly well executed; they provide a personalised backdrop to celebrate the children’s learning. One such display celebrates the schools recently appointed ‘Young Interpreters’. These super role models use their first languages (which are not English) to help their younger peers to settle into school.
Effective Team Work
There are many strengths in this ‘busy’ school but one which must be mentioned and forms the foundations of success and underpins the school’s Catholic ethos, is the caring and loving interactions that the staff team model. The staff certainly bring out the best in each other and it was evident that the school’s children most definitely emulate this. As a result, strong relationships are evident throughout the school, with everyone working together as an effective team. This was shown on one of the busiest days of the year, when the Christmas lunch and Infant Nativity were all rolled into one.
Daily Inclusive Experiences
Pupils speak very highly of their school and can’t get enough of the daily, inclusive experiences, which they believe have moulded them into tolerant and respectful individuals. If they are ever worried or anxious, children know that help is at hand either by asking a friend or a teacher. One idea generated by the children and worth exploring, is a “no stress club”, where children can relax in a quiet environment with peaceful music.
School Council is Proud
The School Council is proud of its school and members feel that they are increasingly involved in the decision-making process. Last year they researched and consulted parents, staff and fellow pupils about a new uniform. Due to the colours associated with St. William, the uniform now reflects this and their badge has also been updated. Equally impressive is the school’s Upper KS2 team of pupils who lead worship and circle time sessions both in their own class as well as for the whole school. ‘Stay and Pray’ sessions are regularly timetabled at this Church school and are very well attended by parents.
Parents say that the Senior Leadership and staff teams are great communicators, very friendly and extremely helpful. With the vast majority of senior staff having been at the school for approximately 9 years, parents welcome the sense of familiarity and security that this brings. This is what provides them with the comfort and knowledge that their child, whatever his or her background or needs are, will be supported to achieve well and make progress that is right for their child.
Quality of Provision is Strong
Staff at the school are real ambassadors of teamwork as their love and tolerance for each other was quite evident. The SENCO role has been job shared, rotating around staff who either are on maternity leave or are due to start imminently. The quality of provision is strong in this shared arrangement as different staff have brought complementary strengths to the role.
The Secret to the School’s Success
The secret of the school’s success and strategies for inclusion include:-
• An in-depth knowledge of the families and pupils the school serves, based on a longstanding commitment to the school by the Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher and Inclusion Team, as well as key senior staff.
• Great communication between all the staff in the school, parents and outside support agencies.
• A comprehensive knowledge of the Quality First Teaching and SEND Pathway.
• A clear system for early identification of SEND needs and a good understanding of what to do and when.
• An array of effective interventions including Sounds Write, Reciprocal Reading System, IDL and Number Sense, to name a few, delivered through a comprehensive provision map.
• Inclusive strategies which promote success for different children e.g. Pyramid Club, Lego Therapy, Nurture sessions, Dyslexia friendly and SEND resources.
• A great relationship with the Landgate SEND Outreach Services, EMAS services and CAMH’s link worker who all act in a very timely manner and support requests for monitoring and future planning of EHC Plans.
• Lunchtime and after school enrichment clubs, including Multi-sports, Lego, the Scrap Store initiative and Pyramid Club which promote inclusion.
• A specialist Nurture Lead who teaches across the school and knows the children very well.
Clear Picture of Inclusion
The Governing Body has a clear picture of inclusion. Though funding is increasingly an issue for the school, the Governor for Inclusion spoke enthusiastically about the inclusive work of the school and its clear links with the Church. As the adjoining church is no longer in use, the Parish Priest facilitates transport for one class to attend St. Patricks Church and mass each month. Such is the determination to keep the relationship between home, school and the Church real and present in the children’s lives. This practice along with the ‘Stay and Pray’ sessions, is highly commended and much appreciated by everyone involved.
Focus on Every Child Reaching their Full Potential
Governors also place a strong focus on every child reaching their full potential by identifying and removing any barriers. They acknowledge that the staff work tirelessly and this is reflected in the school’s great End of Key Stage results.
Landgate, an ASD community resource linked to the local Special Needs School, commissioned CAMHS, EP, OT, EMAS and S&L advice, collectively providing phenomenal leverage to the SEND work of the school. Early identification by the school’s leadership team and staff, enables timely intervention so that much needed specialist strategies are at hand quickly.
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)
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