The Valley Community Primary School has achieved Flagship School status.
The Valley Community Primary School (VCPS) is a larger than average, two form entry school with 551 pupils on roll on the Northern side of the town of Bolton. At the time of the review whole school attendance stood at 97% with PA at 6% below the National average. The vast majority of pupils at the school are EAL, usually arriving well below the age-related expected standard. The school was deemed Outstanding in 2008/2009 and, in my opinion, this continues to be the case. With a consistently strong academic record, where they have appeared in The Guardian top 500 schools and “Good School Guide”, a National Support School and currently sit in the top 1% in the country for achievement, a fantastic accolade for the school, its staff and pupils recognising their consistent high standards over a number of years.
VCPS holds recognised curriculum-based awards in almost all curriculum subjects, often at the highest levels and is an active member of the majority of foundation subject organisations and regularly supports through training and mentoring. Other curriculum leads also offer onsite visits, mentoring, guidance and support including visitors from overseas and has excellent international links. The life skills club for those pupils with high needs continues to flourish and has been shared with colleagues from other settings. The school continues to be a huge advocate of Fair Trade having been involved for almost a decade and has close links with the local Fair Trade shop ‘Justicia’. The school council attended and spoke at The Bolton Fair Trade conference and recently held a Fairtrade day where a cocoa farmer from India had been booked to visit to celebrate their efforts but due to visa issues could not attend. Instead the school were visited by Pushpanath Krishnamurthy who works for trade justice in India and Kevin McCulloch of the Fair Trade Foundation. The whole curriculum was given over to
Fair Trade themed activities. The day was hugely successful with the pupils passionate about Fair Trade and actively engaged in the process of being good global citizens.
Highly Inclusive Teaching
The school continues its superb commitment to providing a highly inclusive teaching and learning environment for all pupils and staff reinforced by their vision to be, “A world class centre of excellence,” through embracing the principles of lifelong learning, best use of new technology and “Visible learning”, developing an international understanding of their place in the world and developing leaders and critical thinkers of tomorrow.
Innovative, Independent Learners
The school and staff are committed to providing the very highest standard of teaching and learning experiences which not only develops the pupils’ knowledge and skills, but develops their confidence to become innovative, independent learners, who take responsibility for their own learning and actions. The superbly caring, inclusive environment that VCPS provides ensures each pupil receives the very best education possible, delivered by dedicated staff. It was very clear to see throughout the review the belief that every pupil is entitled to experience as many opportunities as possible in order to broaden life experience, develop confidence and self-esteem, allowing each pupil to find what is unique about them and to capitalise upon it, whilst easing through areas of challenge.
Superb Care, Nurture and Support
In terms of inclusion VCPS is an outstanding school in every sense. It is clear that superb care, nurture and support which are the foundation stones of inclusion are at the heart of everything that happens on a daily basis at the school seen in all interactions between staff and pupils from discussions with all stakeholders and from evidence provided. Everyone involved with VCPS including pupils and parents pull together to realise the school’s vision and understand that this is a superbly inclusive place to come to work and learn.
At the Heart of the Community
A school that is clearly at the heart of its community where inclusion is a natural part of the everyday occurrence, where pupils are encouraged to reach their full potential, where everyone involved is committed to the inclusion of all, whatever it takes. This is a school that is constantly looking at ways to develop for the benefit of the pupils and families that it serves.
A Vibrancy and Buzz
There is a very real vibrancy and a buzz about the school, its learning environment and a very clear focus on helping pupils to develop the skills, they need to be active participants in their community and in society. As with the previous reviews it is clear to see that the school’s actions to care for pupils’ academically, socially and emotionally in my judgement is of the highest quality. Everything the school does, is for the benefit of their pupils.
Extremely Positive Staff
The staff are extremely positive about the school, and staff and pupils clearly show their love of the school and of learning. All staff employed or who volunteer naturally go the extra mile and beyond without thought to ensure that the individuals and groups’ needs are met. Demonstrating a superb quality of support, care and nurture that enhances the provision throughout all areas of the school. Staff are justifiably proud of what they achieve both professionally and in terms of support for the pupils and themselves. They work exceptionally hard to ensure that all needs are met and it is very clear to see in all areas of the school that there is mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body, and a fantastic rapport between the staff, the pupils in the school and between the staff at all levels. A mutual regard and respect that shines through in all interactions witnessed.
A Relentless Determination and Drive
Staff led by the Headteacher and his senior team have a very clear vision for the school and their pupils and a relentless determination and drive to continue to be successful and be ‘A World Class Centre of Excellence’. This came across very clearly in meetings and discussions with staff at all levels and with the pupils I met and talked to and is a very real strength of this outstanding and superbly inclusive school.
Extremely Positive Parents
During the review process I was able to talk to a variety of staff, pupils and parent volunteers who spoke to me openly and frankly about their roles in the school and what was offered to support pupils and their families. The parents/ volunteers I spoke to were extremely positive about the school and the way that they not only supported their children but themselves as parents helping and supporting them to gain further qualifications.
A Very Inclusive Setting
They highlighted the fact that in their opinion and in the opinion of a lot of other parents the school was totally and naturally a very inclusive setting. They couldn’t fault the school and said that everyone involved in the school was highly empathetic and understood the needs of the children they taught and supported.
The Learning Environment
I was able to re-visit the accommodation across the road from the main school building that used to be the Sure Start Centre and was taken over by the school that has enabled them to provide further opportunities for younger children and has enabled the school to build relationships with parents prior to the child’s admission into school and has had a major impact on the support VCPS can offer to families such as early intervention, ‘Child around the table’ meetings with involvement from other agencies and a rapidly growing 2 year old provision. Since the last review, provision has grown in numbers and plans are in hand to increase numbers further to meet demand.
It was clear to see during the visit that the children are well looked after, and it was a joy to see several of them actively involved in making ‘cheese pasties.’ The feedback from parents has led to more craft style activities being introduced alongside more traditional activities such as circle time and story-time. The children were all actively engaged in what they were doing and were enjoying themselves.
The Ethos Club
I was able to speak to the Ethos Club a group of pupils who through RE have been involved in, and contributed to, a variety of conferences and initiatives working with the Bolton Inter Faith Council and talk to pupils in other less multi-cultural schools. At the last review they were in the process of setting up a Peace garden in a corner of the school playground. They updated me on what had happened since the last review and talked about all the things they had done and in particular were very proud of the Peace garden that, in collaboration with pupils in Art and DT, had come up with the design and that each zone in the school had taken responsibility for an area and developed plans.
I also met representatives of the School Council who explained how they were making a positive contribution to life at VCPS taking on a number of different roles such as Music, Communication, Attendance Officers, Flying Mediators to name just a few. They are active participants in their own education and involve themselves in all aspects of school life.
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