Sudbury Primary School, Wembley in Middlesex, achieves Flagship School status for the second time.
Sudbury Primary is a large 4-form entry school with a nursery, which serves a diverse multi-cultural community in Brent in North London. The percentage of pupils who speak English as an additional language is higher than the national average, at around 80%. There are 24 pupils with an EHCP, eight of whom attend the school’s specialist autism provision. Pupils at Sudbury achieve well. In 2017 Sudbury formed the Chrysalis Multi-Academy Trust with Claremont High School. This is an exciting and effective partnership, benefitting both pupils and staff. The two schools share expertise and have consistent policies. Sudbury staff have recently benefitted from high quality history and diversity CPD, while the pupils have reading buddy opportunities with secondary pupils. The school has adopted the head boy and girl system, as well as its college structure from Claremont. Each of the four colleges comprises one class from each year group as well as staff and provide a real sense of belonging with competitions and awards for behaviour and achievement.
‘Believe to Achieve’
Sudbury’s mission statement was recently reviewed and is now ‘Believe to Achieve.’ This is at the heart of the Sudbury Circle, a visual representation of the elements which contribute to it, including the drivers: diversity, resilience, and knowledge of the world; and the school’s values: respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and courage. Walking around the school and speaking to staff and pupils it is clear that these are promoted and celebrated, for example, through resources, the curriculum, assemblies, displays, attitudes and behaviour. Pupils I spoke to all know the values and have a good understanding of respect.
Bright and Stimulating Environment
There is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere throughout the whole school. From Nursery to Year 6 pupils are very calm, engaged in their lessons and well behaved. Sudbury is a spacious school with rooms dedicated to music, drama, and computing. In the latter, Year 5 pupils were engaged in an online safety lesson, while KS1 pupils were enjoying an African drumming lesson in the music room. Each year group has an intervention room and younger pupils have access to covered areas for messy play as well as well-resourced outdoor areas, while older pupils have access to exercise bikes, an all-weather area and climbing equipment. Shared spaces have colourful displays, large maps showing the school’s location at different scales from local to worldwide and a Sudbury School museum.
During the tour it was evident how well classrooms are set up to support pupils’ learning and encourage independence. The expectation is that in class everything visible is for the children, while teacher resources are kept in cupboards. There are language rich displays relating to the current projects.
The Rainbow Room is the school’s autistic base which currently supports eight pre-verbal pupils from across the school. This includes a music room and messy playroom and run by an extremely knowledgeable HLTA with support from other support staff and the SENDCo. A Tailored Learning Curriculum is provided, and staff are rightly proud of the excellent progress that pupils make. There is also a Learning Empowerment and Achievement Programme (LEAP) which has a dedicated room and is led by Pastoral Support Workers to support pupils with social and emotional needs.
In September Sudbury introduced the Cornerstones curriculum, a broad and balanced project-based curriculum. Each project begins with a hook, involves pupils in asking questions, builds well on their previous learning, promotes independent learning, and provides opportunities for celebrating and sharing pupils’ successes. The school adapts the curriculum to incorporate current events, relate it to the community and meet the needs of the pupils. Staff have been pleased with the impact it has had on raising pupils’ interest and on their confidence. The school enhances the curriculum through its specialist teachers for computing, French, music, and PE, as well as through visits for example to the British Museum, Oxygen Play, Hampton Court and St Albans.
Mirrors and Windows
The emphasis on reading and writing, which are both currently SDP priorities, was apparent throughout the school and in discussions with staff. The school takes the inclusive view that books are ‘Mirrors and Windows’ and therefore provides pupils with a wide range of carefully chosen books that reflect their pupils’ experience and knowledge and include a diversity of people and life. Staff regularly share and recommend texts with colleagues and contribute to a list of texts which reflects diversity, including disability and cultural diversity, and this informs purchasing decisions. An anti-bias book audit has also been completed. There is a wonderful, well stocked library with a wide range of texts and classroom environments are language rich. There is a dedicated time for reading daily and reading aloud and comprehension have been a focus of the Bounce Back curriculum since ‘lockdown.’ All staff, including office, lunchtime and site staff have been involved in this.
Learning Through COVID
During ‘lockdown’ home learning was quickly and successfully established with laptops from a charity and from the secondary school in their MAT being sent home to support pupils. Online learning included live lessons, 1:1 and group interventions, story time and opportunities to talk. ‘Engagement’ by pupils was excellent. The SENDCo supported parents with maintaining consistency between school to home by sharing information and resources to set up a mini school corner at home and making daily zoom calls. All families of SEN pupils received weekly welfare calls and as many vulnerable pupils as possible were invited to attend school, including many EAL pupils so they could practice their English. Leaders produced videos to support parents with helping their child, for example reading with your child and maths strategies and good communication was maintained through class Dojo.
Passionate Support Staff
Support staff speak passionately about their work developing the skills of vulnerable pupils and running interventions. To support pupils who have EAL, the Racing to English and, more recently, Flash Academy programmes are used. The latter has been particularly effective for early English learners and has boosted their confidence. New arrivals are thoroughly assessed on entry and have a gradual transition process.
The Year 6 pupils I met with are confident about speaking to a member of staff if they have a problem and say they can also speak to peer mentors. They have been taught how to respond to problems, giving examples of staying calm and not overreacting, and believe that behaviour in their school is good.
‘Problems are investigated properly’
‘dealt with fairly.’
They attribute good behaviour to pupils knowing the consequences and rewards, which include tokens and postcards being sent home to parents.
Empowering Pupil Roles
Pupils have a range of opportunities to take responsibility and to share their thoughts and ideas, for example through the college system. The school has a Head Boy and Head Girl, Eco Warriors, sports leaders, and peer mentors, while in classes there are additional roles and responsibilities. Pupils are very positive about their school. They talked about the ways teachers help them learn, including through the 5Bs (Brain, Board, Book, Buddy and Boss), which help them to be independent; being taught in small groups; and teachers comments on how to improve their work or setting them a challenge. They particularly enjoy playing with friends, science, and history lessons, learning English, playing a musical instrument, and going on school visits. They are leaving the school with ambitions for themselves of going to university and of becoming a surgeon, space scientist, entrepreneur, and physicist.
Supporting Well-Being for All
The well-being of both pupils and staff is a priority. There are two mental health first aiders, who are trained in bereavement counselling and drama therapists have worked with staff and pupils to support with changes in life situations. Teachers appreciate the support they receive from their year group teams and from senior staff. Of particular note are the Diversity Board, the collegiate approach by leaders, accommodating working from home during lockdown, 2pm finish on Mondays for CPD and the staff gym! They enjoy learning from each other and feel they are valued and:
‘treated fairly and equally.’
Support staff appreciate the opportunities they have to share expertise and have training on areas such as phonics, selective mutism, colour semantics, OT and speech and language, which enables them to support pupils and run interventions effectively. They feel that any concerns they have are addressed and that staff:
‘work closely like we’re a big family.’
In Partnership with Parents
The school has sought parent views through questionnaires and receives positive feedback. The Remote Learning Survey comments were particularly positive. There are very good relationships with parents of SEND pupils. Coffee mornings are arranged, are well attended, and aim to keep parents informed. Their success has led to the development of a supportive network for these parents. The school website is very informative for parents, a notable highlight being the wonderful Sudbury Pride – a colourful and celebratory newspaper produced each half term. A recent edition includes a diversity and Wall of Fame update, recognition of pupils’ achievements, reports on a range of subjects written by pupils, contributions by staff, photos of pupils engaged in learning activities, online safety information and healthy packed lunch guidance.
Reaching Out to Offer Support
Sudbury has good links with a number of primary schools in Brent, as well as in other London boroughs. The SENDCo has taken part in a peer review of SEND in Brent, while staff from other schools have visited Sudbury for support with their ASD pupils. The school is a member of the Brent Teaching School Alliance and has run training for their ITT students and NQTs. Support staff often progress to become teachers and the school accommodates a number of ITT students each year.
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