Trinity Primary Academy in Haringey has achieved Centre of Excellence status.
Trinity Primary is a larger than average primary school, with 443 on roll. It serves a diverse community, composed of a variety of ethnic backgrounds, which the school celebrates. A high percentage of children speak English as another language and Pupil Premium is well above the National Average. The school is part of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) and as such works in collaboration with the other schools. High aspirations underpin the school’s success and are communicated to the children via clear statements such as, ‘Be Unusually Brave, Push the Limits, and Be Big Hearted’. School staff are united by their determination to continually strive for improvement. The core value of enabling each child to reach their full potential despite any barrier, permeates all areas of school life. Positivity, passion and teamwork are features which are at the heart of everything that the school provides for the children, leading to the pupils making excellent progress. Early Years pupils on entry are below National Expectations in general but attain above National levels on entry to Key Stage 1 and maintain this throughout their school journey to the end of Key Stage 2. These results relate to Reading, Writing and Maths, and the Combined Scores, along with Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling. “Pupils’ outcomes are outstanding. All groups of pupils make excellent progress from their starting points and attainment compares very well with other schools nationally.” (Ofsted 2016)
High Quality of Teaching
The Senior Leadership Team led by the Principal and Vice Principal ensure that the quality of teaching remains high. Mechanisms have been successfully developed, to ensure that outstanding practice is shared, and teachers are nurtured. Rigorous systems are in place to monitor the teaching through learning walks, ‘book looks’, ongoing feedback and through modelling and coaching through subject experts. This in turn, ensures that high quality inclusive teaching supports the progress and attainment of all types of learner and leads to equality of provision.
Catch Up and Keep Up
The consistent cycles of analysis and feedback are coupled with regular intervention to ensure that children are on track to meet their targets, support is personalised and bespoke and takes place as far as possible, within the session. This prevents children feeling excluded through being withdrawn from their class group. The prevailing attitude amongst the staff is for the children to catch up and then keep up. Pupil voice is at the heart of planning and the school works closely with outside agencies to help identify and meet the needs of the children. The excellent support provided by the teaching assistants contributes to the excellent progress that SEND children make as they progress through the school. A range of intervention programmes are successfully used, along with general 1.1 support where appropriate. Support staff have excellent relationships with the teachers and there is ongoing daily dialogue.
Challenge and Support
The Governing Body provide challenge and support through regular engagement with the school’s main priorities. The schedule of meetings and monitoring opportunities ensure efficiency and high levels of accountability in relation to school staff. Governors perform key leadership functions related to strategic direction and they both clarify and monitor the school’s vision and ethos. The Governing Body are education professionals, whose expertise is a critical component in relation to their effectiveness in raising standards. The structure of the Governing Board is innovative in many respects, as it includes ‘Peer Principals’ from other Trust Academies, to act as critical friends. Governors are involved in ‘Deep Dives’, which allows for a thorough exploration of any area of school life, or particular subjects. Such activity is welcomed by leaders and seems like a powerful tool for improvement.
Children Feel Empowered
The children are proud of the school and understand that the staff are there to help them achieve, they are able to clearly explain the routines and systems in place and understand what is expected. Children know that they can seek support if they become ‘stuck’, or if they have misunderstood a key point. Classroom prompts and relevant aids to independent learning, also help to keep them on track. The staff promote an atmosphere where the children are encouraged to ‘make the right call’, even when it is difficult. They can also give examples of the staff acting upon their suggestions and listening to their views, empowering them further.
The assessment took place during the period of easing out of ‘lockdown’, owing to the COVID-19 crisis. The core principles and values of the school were thoroughly demonstrated by the way in which the school had responded to the situation. The usual determination of the staff to do their best for the pupils had resulted in ‘military style’ timetabling and planning to ensure the children had the best possible access to learning. Exceptional teamwork from all the staff supported both the children who attended the school through phased return of the children of key workers and those who remained at home.
High Quality Online Learning
High quality online learning was provided by the teachers, with precise monitoring of outcomes using Seesaw. Appropriate feedback, which is a normal feature of school life, continued to give children both praise and challenge. The staff continued to share good practice in relation to excellent lessons and learnt from each other through this period, sharing recordings. The Leadership Team successfully disseminated and captured the essence of the key features of a highly successful input and made the characteristics explicit. Sessions on the learning platforms became more concise and focussed, for the benefit of the children.
Supporting Pupils and Families
The staff were acutely aware of the necessity of caring for the children’s wellbeing during the current situation, which has prompted anxiety and uncertainty in many families. Regular phone calls have provided the school with an overview and an understanding of how best the families may be helped, this also included practical support. The school loaned 77 devices such as iPads and tablets, to enable children to access online learning. Equipment and resources have also been delivered where needed along with packed lunches before the Government’s voucher scheme came to fruition, such is the dedication of the staff.
Parents Praised the Staff’s Commitment
Parents interviewed on the day, praised the commitment of the staff. They commented on the fact that the school had been an essential element in the provision of support, not just for the children but for families too. The parents also looked forward to the phone calls, along with the children. They pointed out that the staff had approached the current situation with positivity and modelled the attitude, that whatever happens you just need to “plough on”. It was explained that the staff keep the bigger picture in their minds at all times and take a holistic approach. They appreciated the online learning provided for the children and the feedback. One parent commented,
“It’s not just a pat on the back, they are spurred on.”
Transition and Recovery
Along with the phased return of particular year groups, the school has identified the need to invite targeted Year 5 children to receive catch up programmes in school. This is to ensure that they have the opportunity to accelerate their progress before Year 6. Transition programmes were implemented for the Year 6 pupils now in attendance and online material for Year 6 pupils who are still at home.
Great Staff and Supportive Parents
I asked how things had been going since all pupils returned to school in September and they told me they are coping remarkably well. The Principal puts this down to having great staff and very supportive parents. All the work that went into communicating with parents during lockdown has cemented the already good relationships with the school and they feel parents now feel more involved in the school.
Creative and Innovative
The Principal told me that despite the COVID-19 pandemic the school had not stopped developing and they have continued to move forward. She agreed every day brings something new and new challenges arise, but the team and the school have been creative and innovative in response. She said that everybody is very passionate about the school and their role. She believes it is important to give people responsibilities and let them get on with things. The leadership model is one of distributed leadership.
Supported by the Trust
The school has had few instances where they have had to send children or staff home and they feel this is very lucky, but they are aware this could change at any time. Even though they have been very rigorous about following the rules and ensuring the school is thoroughly cleaned and sanitised, they cannot avoid the risks that come from outside the school. Being a member of the AET team has been very helpful, especially during this time as they provide a support network that makes the role of Principal manageable,
“You are never on your own”.
The Trust provided risk assessment and a range of practical support strategies that the school could adopt. They helped with the communication with families and supported the technology aspect which the school found really helpful. Furthermore, there was weekly Google Hangouts with other Principals. The Central Team of experts was also invaluable during this time.
Growing Our Own
The school was rebranded in 2012 and became The Trinity Academy, it was taken over by AET and quite a few of the staff have remained at the school. There is a good mixture of teachers and support staff and there is a definite belief in ‘growing our own’. Many Teaching Assistants have gone on to become teachers and are now teaching in the school.
Supporting Vulnerable Families
The school supports many vulnerable families especially those who are suffering from housing insecurity and the try to support those living in difficult situations. They work with a local Counsellor to help resolve housing issues and also work with Early Help. They told me they tap into all local agencies and are able to signpost such parents to supporting agencies in the community. The school has also provided vulnerable families with food, technology and whatever else is needed.
Oracy Development is a Priority
Developing oracy across the school is a priority for the school. There is a focus on children developing rich vocabulary and high-quality scaffolding is provided for children in Early Years. The pupils with the lowest reading levels are read with every day and some twice a day. Generally, children make really good progress.
Building Sustainable Leadership and Succession Planning
Performance Management structures and systems are in place for all staff and the conversations during these meetings include discussions about career aspirations and can support individuals to move forward, this way they build sustainable leadership and succession planning. Teacher Profile Meetings allow teachers to reflect on their practice and clarify their aspirations for the future.
A Ground-Breaking School
As part of the AET the school benefits from the AET Professional Governance Model that operates across all their schools. However, the schools also have local Governors who take on some of the aspects one would expect. I met with the SEND Governor for the school, she is also the National Director for Primary and Secondary Schools across the Trust and volunteered to be the SEND Governor at Trinity Primary Academy. She normally supports schools that are having difficulties with their SEND provision, but she is full of praise for the practice at the Trinity Primary Academy, which she thinks is ground-breaking.
Staff are Reflective and Work Collaboratively
We talked through the approach used by the Academy to ensure children are fully included. She agreed that inclusion is first and foremost about high quality teaching and learning and what goes on in the classroom and this an area that is always moving forward. There are several layers of support that complement the good teaching where barriers are identified, and strategies are put in place to remove those barriers. She said her role is to challenge the school and really get to the heart of what is happening. She comments that the Principal, her Senior Team and staff are very reflective and are always looking for ways they can further improve. They do not rest on their laurels and work collaboratively with others in the interests of the children.
A Very Special School
Trinity Primary Academy is a very special school where every child is valued, and staff go to great lengths to make sure they are fully included. The Academy is founded on sound values and principles and these are shared with all stakeholders including the children. The provision for SEN pupils is second to none. Safeguarding processes are a high priority and are very effective. Professional learning at every level is of a high quality and the Academy receives great support from the AET Trust. Staff and parents feel valued and that they have a voice, and they tell me they are listened to. Pastoral care permeates the school and results in good mental health awareness and wellbeing.
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