Thorntree Academy in Middlesbrough has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Flagship Status.
Credit to the School
Our Assessor noted that as soon as they walked through the car park of Thorntree the presence of staff and staff morale were a credit to the school. On entering the school, the Assessor was greeted by two lovely members of the reception staff who were very friendly and welcoming. They then had the opportunity to witness a discussion between office staff and parents. Staff ensured they supported the parent and addressed what she required immediately offering a nurturing and approachable presence.
Discussion with all members of staff showed such a welcoming feel to the school. The discussions with different members of staff throughout the day provided opportunities to see how their passion and dedication to their pupils was inspirational and an inspiration to all. Each staff member was able to celebrate and share personal experiences, proud experiences and share opportunities giving credit to other colleagues.
They shared a sense of belonging together as a whole staff unit.
Our Assessor asked staff why they chose Thorntree for their place of work. Some of their comments shared included: ‘I feel my skills sets are recognised, I am in a new role and can share my passion of music’; ‘Delegation has changed over the years, you were just given a title. Now you are coached and supported how to lead with the responsibilities to do a role’ ; ‘The Headteacher has found out what we can do and discusses what we are good at and how we can grow. There are opportunities to grow yourself at every level’; ‘CPD has allowed for better opportunities and for us to offer the best curriculum and opportunities possible to our pupils.’
Equity not Just Equality
One member of staff explained that at Thorntree over the years inclusion has been a journey which has allowed an enrichment of opportunities for all. He stated that it is also about ensuring its’ about equity and not just equality – “Fair for what you need and not what you have.”
It was highly commendable from a statement shared by a member of staff in relation to why she wanted to be a teaching assistant. “I became a TA because of injustice for children, I wanted to support children in the future to the right education and support. You see a need and the child is supported.”
The Assessor could see the pride and passion behind her statement. Throughout the day it was visually evident that the culture of the staff is inclusive and passionate to ensure everything is right for the children.
Staff Feel Confidence
Members of staff at Thorntree are also interested in external points of view and multi-agency approaches to best support everyone. Staff feel they have confidence to have open discussions and acknowledge a purposeful direction for themselves and also for the children. Senior Leaders shared how staff have a high respecting ethos were each staff member has unique specialisms and knowledge.
Teaching staff shared how “we are not expected to know it all. All children have had different experiences.”
Different professionalism allows for growth and the best ways forward to support staff and children. A lot of staff know about key relationships within school and outside of school to best support pupils and each other. ‘It is two way and everybody wants the best. It needs to be seen as holistic care.’
Staff shared how they have seen and felt a huge improvement regarding workload, staff also shared how they rarely take books home to mark.
They find this has had a great impact on their work/life balance. This also has enabled members of staff to ensure they are able to check in on each other.
Planned activities for social events outside of school has had a great impact on work relationships, getting to know each other more and building a work community culture for all.
The pupils of Thorntree Academy have recently had some amazing opportunities outside of school as well as in.
Staff have worked together to create some powerful and motivating clubs to engage learners into the wider world around them in today’s society.
Below are some of their inspirational clubs offered and what Thorntree have encouraged for their future leaders.
• Playleaders – help in Key Stage 1 to help lunch staff. The Headteacher gives lunch tasks to support KS1 children. Lots of possibilities to support pupils’ own ideas to help other children with their learning. This helps team skills, listening and fairness. Teaching new games to help younger children understand new rules.
• Power of Women – talk about the fact that women can do what they like, school trip to Steele Benders owner. Real life opportunities to look at aims towards pupils’ futures linked with supporting in school and Teesside University. Local business and outside agencies involved ensure gender does not hold you back. Promotes power of confidence (WE DID IT). It is good to talk about it and makes us feel privileged and proud.
• Pupils had the opportunity to attend the Lioness women’s match, this provides opportunities to understand the sense of community and belonging allowing nothing to hold them back.
• Brilliant club – statistics (aiming high project) learning how to understand statistics, learning new vocabulary, a 10-page document at university level. The tutor came in from Aiming High project and pupils worked with a tutor to achieve their qualification at school. Children relished in the opportunity to have a tour of Newcastle University and were awarded through a mini graduation as part of a school trip.
Our Assessor extended thanks to Thorntree for a fantastic visit to their school and would like to commend all their staff in the great efforts they have put into supporting their learners towards an inspirational future ahead.
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: [email protected] for further details.