The Warriner School, Bloxham in Oxfordshire, part of The Warriner Multi Academy Trust has been awarded the Inclusive School Award with Flagship status.
Introducing The Warriner
The Warriner School is an oversubscribed, 8 growing to 10 form entry secondary school located in North Oxfordshire. It is situated on a large greenfield site with a 120-acre school farm. They host a Local Authority managed Communication, Interaction Resource Base for pupils with high need Autism, and a community swimming pool. The Warriner School has a reputation locally, for being highly inclusive and for that reason, is the school of choice for many children with SEND or medical needs. Everything the school does is underpinned by their moral purpose to drive educational excellence through their vision to challenge everyone to be the best that they can be.
Warriner sits in a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) with 6 other schools and is the only secondary school in the MAT. Such is their drive for self-improvement, they have joined a consortium of schools under the banner of ‘challenge partners’ who hold peer reviews. They sit within the Cotswold Hub and the latest peer review focused on improving practice and leadership to support disadvantaged students. This highlighted the impressive, embedded culture of improving provision and outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, which are still referred to as ‘futures students.’ The team has presented this approach to Newman University and the delegates of the Midlands Raising Attainment in Disadvantaged Youngsters (RADY) network. They are constantly striving to share their good practice across their local network and beyond.
Planning for Success
All teachers and members of The Warriner community are aware of the drive for inclusion and play an active part, with an audible voice, and conscious actions. Staff planners have a one-page reminder of the values, the non-negotiables, and the areas where consistency can be assured to make sure inclusion is driven into very classroom. The staff handbook has doubled up as a planning document ensuring almost unconscious consideration of the different demographics in each class. Staff were fully included in the process of creating the one-page non-negotiables, therefore the staff feel a sense of ownership and were able to articulate that this is something they want to do as opposed to something directed at them.
Post-Covid, there is a real drive on curriculum development. They have created a system of review that mimics the deep-dive approach of Ofsted. These are completed by a Senior Leader and a Governor. I was presented with reports and action plans that were detailed and informed departments of the steps they needed to take to develop pupil outcomes. Most notably the PHSE deep dive needed 2 days, rather than just one, as they scrutinised not only the discrete lessons, but also the diet of the lessons delivered through tutor time. This has led to realisations that there is a variance in delivery and there is a need for expert outside teachers to cover and support the more sensitive areas in the RSE curriculums. The team welcomes criticism and does not shy away from areas of potential weakness. Instead, they set their resolve, seek external support if needed, and start acting on their improvement plans.
There are road maps for every pupil, so they are aware of the knowledge they will need for success in their KS4 exams. There is a clear curriculum intent, and the delivery has been adapted to new frameworks and exam specifications. All subject areas must have fully developed, knowledge-based curriculum plans by September. School trips have bought ‘cultural capital’ back into the spotlight after being confined by Covid for so long. Also, school clubs, a PE enrichment timetable and mixed year group activities are additionally firmly back on the agenda. The Futures Strategy remains dominant across all school improvement dialogue, and the pupil premium report showcases the impact of their funding spend. The team continues their forensic approach towards the analysis of data, drilling down achievement to the different vulnerable groups.
There is a new provision called the Link for school refusers. They are ahead of the new government directives for impacting the ‘severely absent’ pupils. Coming back from Covid, they observed a tangible increase in anxiety and mental health concerns that presented as school refusers. They quickly realised that their existing provision was not enough, and they had to look beyond the study zone or already established provisions. Therefore, they have staffed and established a unique setting where children can attend flexibly, cover the curriculum, and start their integration back into mainstream with support and guidance, at their own pace. The Link is located at the back of the school, permitting discrete handover from parents and the consistency of the staffing means that there is a triad of trust between the student, parent, and the school. The children are referred into the setting with a comprehensive support plan of complementary mental health support by the SENCo and Attendance Officer. The Attendance Team is growing as an absence highlighted that there was no succession planning within the Attendance Team. Therefore, with the Governor’s support, this team has been developed and there are plans for the team to be more active in the community.
Proactive School Council
The children have led the diversity agenda, creating the ‘Everyone Different – Everyone Equal’ mantra that is displayed around the school. The School Council has been redeveloped and is now a force, linking the SLT with the voice of the pupils. They are immensely proud of their work on peer-on-peer abuse, and they have created their own student statement displayed in every classroom. The message is clear; a lack of tolerance is unacceptable. The School Council has also been revitalised by a newly appointed Assistant Headteacher. The School Council is democratically elected by their peers. They have formed subcommittee on areas they are passionate about such as bullying and peer on peer abuse. They also sent out a whole school survey, where over 750 children responded, creating an action plan for change as a result. This survey is going to be repeated so they can see if there has been a measurable impact. They have created a Respect Charter. The ‘Everybody Different, Everybody Equal’ campaign has been student-led from its implementation, and the students have led assemblies, created posters, created a logo, and campaigned for acceptance. The Student Council have also met with other schools to share their success and present how they have led on inclusion. The only criticism the children had was that they would like council badges to wear on their uniform such is their pride of being on the council and being recognised as the representative of the pupil’s voice.
The School Council have also persuaded the SLT to host a school Instagram account to highlight the work that pupils do within the schools and to celebrate cultural events and themed weeks. There will be a Student and Staff Editor to moderate the content, but the Council were very excited about this new modern adventure. The Student Council also campaigned for the relaxation of the dress code from business dress to smart casual. They argued effectively argued that the change would not impact learning, and the pupils in the 6th Form presented as independent, smart, and responsible.
Pre-Covid, I met the Assistant Headteacher who was trying to develop the Warriner Learning Centre into a multipurpose area designed to bring all student support services together. On today’s visit, it was almost incredulous to see the unified, purposeful, flexible, and well managed space it had become. Every room is used for a specific need and is always ready for change and adaptation. Already they have identified that their ‘return to learn’ space needs to be bigger to serve more pupils, and change is already in motion. The new WLC’s overarching purpose will be to provide high-quality support for the most ‘vulnerable’ children in the school regardless of whether they are Safeguarding, SEND, or Futures. The school has moved from eight form entry to ten. As the school’s numbers have increased so too has the number of vulnerable pupils. As The Warriner has a reputation for inclusivity, they are often first choice for the most vulnerable. Therefore, the Warriner Learning Centre (WLC) has cemented itself firmly in the centre of the school as a place where any child can go for support. The current effectiveness of this provision is due to the commitment, resilience, fierce determination, and vision of the Assistant Headteacher.
Students have revolutionised and relaunched a previous club, now called the Pride Club. It has grown experientially, not because of the growth in numbers, but rather the sense of safety offered by the school has permitted a greater sense of self-identification and ownership of their labels and pronouns. The children are expertly lead by a member of staff who managed their actions, their political righteousness, and their sense of identity. The children are passionately and knowledgeably vocal about LGTBQ+ rights. They are passionate about teaching people about inclusivity and have plans on speaking to the History Leads about adapting the curriculum to cover the Stonewall Riots.
Safer School Pledge
Last summer, a Safer Schools Initiative was launched to replace what was the outdated anti-bullying rhetoric. These are not just words at The Warriner as all children have signed a Safer School Pledge that is displayed in forms rooms across the school. Children can also self-identify or report bullying online anonymously. They used to use a more expensive package, but they have utilised their amazing ICT team who have developed a process on Google Forms, where any bullying disclosures are sent directly to Pastoral staff so incidents can be actioned immediately. There has been a heightening of awareness of having a trusted adult, and most pupils are able to articulate who is their trusted adult within the school, to whom they would feel comfortable making a disclosure. In September parents will start leading session for parents on how they can support their children. The whole focus of all these initiatives is that no one should suffer in silence whether that be a pupil, parent, community, or staff member. There is support for everyone.
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