Thorn Grove Primary School in Cheshire achieves the Inclusive School Award again.
The context of the School
Thorn Grove is a smaller than average one form primary school (currently 250 on roll) including a 40 place Nursery Class. The school is also an LA provider for sign bi-lingual (deaf) pupils offering an excellent, nurturing provision that now has children placed from outside the area. The website has a warm welcome address from the Headteacher which states ‘From the moment you pass through the threshold, the warm atmosphere of the school envelops you and you are instantly put at ease’. I totally concur with this sentiment. From visiting the school, it was evident that from the moment you enter the building, you become part of a special family that promotes a holistic approach to children, providing a wealth of opportunities. The re-assessment demonstrates the school’s commitment to continuing its inclusive journey providing nurturing educational support for all children, including those with diverse, specific educational needs.
The Inclusive Environment
The Headteacher, Governors and staff are rightly proud of their inclusive environment. Everyone with whom I met spoke passionately about the work they do at the school and how they want the best for each and every child who attends Thorn Grove. Reflecting on the day, two words were prevalent throughout the visit; ‘positivity’ and ‘encouragement’. The growth mindset that is being embedded across school uses the phrase ‘I’m not there…Yet!’ With the inclusive ethos, Thorn Grove is there…right now. At every level, there is a drive to make each day a positive learning experience. One whiteboard in class displayed the message ‘Welcome to Wednesday’. Children are welcomed into the school and their day is such a positive experience. Staff go the extra mile to ensure every child is included and has a memorable day. The attitudes of all learners stood out and behaviour was exemplary. It was a pleasure to talk to the children and share in their learning experiences. They celebrated Thorn Grove and all that goes on. I did not want my day to end.
Sources of Evidence
This was a re-assessment visit and was conducted over one day during which I had the privilege of meeting with:-
• Head Teacher, Mrs Sue Denford.
• Members of the Senior Leadership Team.
• SENDco Claire Rimmer.
• Support staff.
• Pupils, including Eco Council members, Sports Ambassadors and Leaders.
The Learning Environment
The school hosts extensive grounds and places equal importance on both learnings in and out of the classroom. There is such a calm and welcoming feel to the school as I experienced first-hand throughout my visit. I was given a full tour of the school and was able to then spend time in:-
• All teaching areas including the nursery.
• Nurture Room.
• ICT suite.
• Intervention spaces.
Outside spaces included both key stage playground areas and the forest school area.
Looking After the School Environment
Everyone cares about the school environment and both staff and pupils take responsibility for looking after it. This was further evidence of how the community works together. The Eco-Warriors are fantastic ambassadors for the school and are not afraid to ensure everyone shows care and respect for the school environment. This extends to reminding teachers when they need to turn off a light switch or two!
The IQM Self Evaluation Report (SER) submitted by the school is comprehensive and gives an accurate description of the truly inclusive ethos evident throughout the school. During the visit, it was evident that the undertaking of the IQM was indeed a journey and had evidenced the embedded practices of the school. I was able to see progress since the last assessment and how the school is committed to providing effective care and provision. Through its own rigorous self-assessment and reflective practice, the school is fully aware of areas to develop, but more importantly, is striving to ensure these quickly become key strengths.
Governors are fully supportive of the school and care about the well-being of the pupils and the staff at Thorn Grove. The fact that there is an inclusion committee speaks volumes about the importance placed on this. The Inclusion Governor has a strong knowledge of inclusion through her role as Sensory Support Lead for Stockport and is proactive in her role. As a governing body they share the compassion that teachers have and clearly understand the needs of the children also. There is a strong leadership structure sitting beneath this which ensures that all members of the school community embed inclusion as part of the school ethos – it is not just an ‘add on’. All are clearly motivated and strive to offer all pupils the best possible educational opportunities.
The reassessment day showcased the school in action and brought to life every aspect of the Self Evaluation Report. As an assessor, it was evident that Thorn Grove clearly demonstrates the inclusive practice in place within the school and the ongoing commitment to develop this further. It was an absolute pleasure to visit the school and to be given the opportunity to experience at first hand such a vibrant, stimulating and motivational environment that reaches out to all pupils and their families. As an IQM assessor, I was made to feel extremely welcome and included in all aspects of the daily life of the school, including learning some sign language! My sincere thanks must go to everyone who generously gave their time during the IQM assessment.
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.
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