Stewards Academy in Essex achieves the Inclusive School Award for the fourth time.
Proud of the School
It was a great pleasure to visit the school again to carry out your IQM assessment. I last visited the school in 2015 when I came to carry out the Flagship Review. It was an amazing opportunity to spend two days immersed in the Stewards Academy ethos and culture and to meet so many people. A huge thank you to Keith Naunton, together with Marie Erwood, for organising my visit and arranging for me to see so many stakeholders and indeed for looking after me so well. It is clear (Keith did mention it numerous times!) that they both love the school and are rightly proud of it. Indeed this was true of every single person I met.
“We are a Family”
During my walk around the school, Marie Erwood asked students in one classroom what they thought the term Inclusion meant. A young man in a Year 9 class said:
“When you come through the door this school is somewhere you can come in and be yourself – we are a family.”
This was a spontaneous comment that came from the heart and was echoed by staff, governors, parents and students across the school.
Everybody is Valued Equally
I think it is fair to say that the Academy is one of the most inclusive schools I have ever been in. Your policy and practice are underpinned by a real commitment and ethos where everybody is valued equally. You rightly say that if a child lives in your catchment area they have a right to attend the Academy and they are welcomed with open arms – no matter what their individual needs are. You are aware that your reputation as an inclusive school could prove to be difficult as there is a tipping point in terms of how many SEND children you and your staff can properly support and, in some ways, you are victims of your own success. Having said that, it is clear that you and your staff pride ourselves in the quality of education and care you provide for all of your students. Your commitment in terms of resourcing to meet the needs of SEND and vulnerable students is extraordinary and is a real credit to you and your Governors.
I have never been in a school where there are so many connections in terms of family networks. So many members of staff were former students who returned as teachers. Others work as LSAs or support staff. Many of the staff I met also had their brother, mother, wife, husband or other family members who worked in different parts of the school.
A Very Stable Workforce
So the Stewards’ family that students, staff, parents and Governors spoke about is a real thing! This, amongst the many other very positive aspects of the Academy, means that people stay in post for a long time and provide stability for the students and the community. This is really appreciated by parents/carers. You and your team spot and develop talent at every opportunity and the students have benefitted from it.
Everybody is Included
In this school, everybody is included and valued for who they are. This includes staff as well as children. Families are also included and feel they they and their children are supported by staff. This is very much a community school. There is a level of emotional intelligence across the school where people can spot if individuals (students, staff or parents) are feeling anxious or worried and step in quickly to offer help and support.
Pupil Voice is a Strength
The students I met were a joy to talk to and Pupil Voice is one of the greatest strengths of the Academy. They take their responsibilities very seriously and I saw active citizenship in action during my visit. You are developing citizens rather than tourists – they are not just passing through but are there for the duration. The aim is for them to continue both the attitude and approach when they leave the school and go into the world. I have no doubt many of them will go on to bring about change in their own communities.
Empathy, Resilience and Character
The curriculum at Stewards Academy is not just about achieving high grades and making good progress (which they do) but is about the whole child where there is an emphasis on developing empathy, resilience and character. This personal development is a great preparation for adult life.
Your appointment as Headteacher, having worked your way up from TA to Head, is a great example of what is possible. Taking over from a very successful Head, who was in post for twenty-one years, was a gigantic leap for you and for the Governors who appointed you. However, everybody I spoke to was keen to tell me about your leadership and how it was having such a positive effect on them and on the Academy. You have made numerous changes and have done things your way without losing all that is great about the school.
Sources of Evidence
The Academy has much to be proud of. I saw a large number of people and saw the school at work over my two days and I collected a great deal of information. However, I don’t have space here to write about everything, so please forgive me if I have left anything out. You have much to be proud of. I am of the opinion that the school meets the IQM criteria and furthermore is exceptional in many areas.
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.