The Woodside Academy, Croydon has achieved Centre of Excellence Status.
The Woodside Academy is an excellent example of inclusive practice. The whole team are passionate about the progress of all the children in the school and have created a learning environment where children develop both their academic skills as well as those of being a citizen of the future. Children, parents and visitors are welcomed by a friendly staff team member from the moment they enter the school at the front desk. Throughout the visit the welcoming and caring approach were reflected in the conversations with all members of the school community. The whole team from leaders, staff, children and parents were incredibly proud of their school and keen to celebrate its commitment to all children – a parent comment during the visit was,
“I am proud that my child comes to this school.”
The IQM award was originally awarded to Woodside Infant School in 2012 and then successfully renewed in 2016 following the amalgamation of the Infant and Junior School. The amalgamated school was part of The Synaptic Trust although is in the process of joining the Inspire Partnership following changes to The Synaptic Trust.
Effective Leadership Team
The Headteacher has recently retired and the Deputy has taken on the role of Acting Headteacher in the interim period. It was evident throughout the visit that an effective leadership team has been developed over recent years which has enabled the change in leadership to have minimal impact on the running of the school. Systems have been established over time to improve the quality of education in the school including regular monitoring as well as the development of middle leadership teams. Different members of the team had accurately completed the IQM Self Evaluation Report reflecting the team approach. Members of staff noted the “strong sense of community… we are like a big family…it’s a team…” as a strong element of the school’s successful commitment to inclusion.
Woodside Academy is a large three form entry school which falls into the highest 20% of all schools when comparing numbers on roll. However as with other local school’s numbers have been falling over recent years which has led to the change in PAN from four form to three form entry. The school’s level of mobility is higher than 60% of schools in England because of the high level of household movement within Croydon.
High aspirations for all pupils, staff and parents were a key element of the visit from the detailed teaching and learning handbook setting clear expectations of learning environments to the high level of training offered to staff as well as parents. Staff development is a key aspect of school improvement with the interesting dimension of ‘Teacher on a Page’ summaries as well as the use of Action Research as part of performance management. Leaders have introduced a Triad peer group opportunity using a lesson Study type approach to improve the quality of education. Staff commented that leaders will respond to training needs quickly and that staff meetings are really useful CPD sessions.
Inclusive practice is central to the work of the school. Leaders have committed funding to developing and improving the provision they offer all the pupils in the school. The high numbers of EAL pupils has led to the employment of an EAL teacher that despite a falling budget they have managed to retain. Pupils are able to work with the teacher in an identified room. There are a wide range of resources that teachers are able to access if required as well as the expertise of the teacher in promoting EAL teaching techniques within the classroom. The impact of the expertise has been reflected in pupil outcomes at the end of Key Stage 2 with a higher percentage of pupils for whom English is not their first language achieving the expected standard in all areas than their peers in the school and nationally.
The Haven Provision
The school has developed an alternative provision approach for those pupils who find a mainstream classroom too challenging and are not making progress. In both key Stage 1 and 2 “The Haven” Classrooms have been developed. The two Inclusion leads oversee the teaching and a practical small step approach has been developed. In Key Stage 1 children approach reflects the best of EYFS practice with a continued use of the outside space as well as opportunity to revisit skills independently. Parents could not speak highly enough of the team in The Haven provision. They were particularly delighted that if their child was not able to take part in a whole class activity the staff had created an alternative that they could attend with small numbers. Staff have also developed a safe lunchtime space for pupils in both Key Stage 1 and 2. In Key Stage 1 the Caring Café is accessed initially by Nursery children and then other individuals who find the lunch hall and outside space overwhelming. In Key Stage 2 children access the Family Support worker room in a similar way.
The school offers a wide range of interventions to support individual children with an entry and exit baseline used to measure progress. In the Early Years the importance of language development is a high priority. The EYFS two-year old and Nursery provision focuses on creating opportunities for language development with an excellent range of learning and play based opportunities both in and out. Staff model language and engage in play and children are encouraged in their independent learning to practice taught skills. The school has invested in “The Oracy Project” to further promote language skills training staff to support the development of skills.
Commitment to Adapting and Providing
The commitment to adapting and providing the appropriate provision for all pupils has a positive impact on end of Key Stage outcomes. The recent end of Key Stage outcomes (2019) reflected all pupils achieving higher than national in Reading, Writing and Maths at expected and in Maths at greater depth. The school is now working on improving Reading and Writing at greater depth alongside its Ofsted area of development which was to “Improve the challenge and depth of learning in Key Stage 1 so that outcomes rise, especially in subjects other than English and Maths.” The school development reflects aspects of this area of focus. Discussion with leader regarding the effectiveness of the current format of the plan led to an agreement that with the changes at Trust level the plan could become more focused.
Power of Reading
The school team have developed their curriculum over time which has a very clear intent in how it is structured across the year groups. The value of books is central to the themes with the Power of Reading structure reflected in the termly overview. Each year group has different topic from heroes in Year 2 to Cycles in Year 5 this term. Questions have been developed by the staff team to promote interest and there is a planned WOW and end outcome reflected on the planned learning. A key factor in improving the challenge and greater depth outcomes is the effectiveness of the wider curriculum in developing the children’s knowledge and skills and particularly their vocabulary. A conversation regarding how the curriculum could be developed to improve the implementation and impact and ensure consistency of delivery was held with the leadership team.
A Range of Learning Opportunities
Children have the opportunity to experience a range of learning opportunities. On one of the visit days children were taking part in an interesting Science workshop as part of their Science week. In Year 5 children had planned questions to ask a teacher about their cycling enthusiasm. The interview had been filmed and was then being used to support the children in writing a newspaper article linked to their theme of cycling. This use of technology was enabling all children to be able to respond to the task. In Year 6 children reflected on each other’s home learning articulating why they liked a particular piece of work.
Learning Power Characters
The classroom environments mainly reflected the expectations of the Teaching and Learning Handbook with book corners, resources available for Maths and Writing, learning walls for English and Maths and often a Science display. The school has developed its own Learning Power characters based on the work of Professor Guy Claxton. Children described using Elephant Resilience and Resourceful Monkey to help with their learning. They recognised the importance of the Meerkat in helping them to develop their relationships as well as the Reflective Tortoise.
The school’s website highlights that the school “strives to be an outstanding school at the heart of the local community in which every child is empowered to have self-belief and to aspire and achieve her/his highest potential.” Staff are encouraged to look at all the children’s unique skills and value them encouraging them to become experts and share their knowledge and skills with each other. The children described the school as a place where “everyone is always included everyone takes part and everyone is urged to work as hard as they can.” Children were delighted with the recent success of one of their Year 6 pupils in winning the local “Loud and Proud Public speaking competition for Girls”, particularly as it is for the second year running.
Zones of Regulation
Both children and parents considered that Behaviour was a positive strength of the school. Each classroom has a Behaviour ladder in it and the children were very clear on the expectations commenting that there were opportunities to “learn to calm down.” This reflects the school’s introduction of Zones of Regulation to all the children to support them in recognising their emotions and also being able to manage them effectively. They were also very aware that the school had special spaces and adults available for children “who might have anger issues” to access and support them. The opportunity to celebrate positive behaviours through golden time, extra house points and in assemblies was commented on by all the children I met during the assessment.
UNICEF Rights Respecting Programme
The importance of recognising individual needs has been developed though the school’s work on the UNICEF Rights Respecting Programme as well as the most recent introduction of the “No Outsiders in our School” scheme. The children had an excellent understanding of the rights of the Child and in some classrooms the displays fully reflected the work the children had been doing to develop this understanding with washing lines modelling the rights across the room. Ofsted identified the personal development and behaviour of the school as Outstanding stating that the “pupils have a strong understanding of human rights and believe that respect is of fundamental importance and should be shown to everyone. This prepares them exceptionally well for moving on to secondary school and for their future lives in modern Britain.”
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
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