The Valley Community Primary School in Bolton has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
School Leaders are Highly Ambitious
The Valley continues to demonstrate a commitment to high levels of inclusive practice.
The school values of: Acceptance, Fairness, Trust, Equality and Respect are demonstrated by leadership at all levels. The school community is a diverse multi-lingual, multi-faith context including high numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The cultural identity of pupils and staff alike is valued and children are supported to learn tolerance and respect for each other’s religions, languages and traditions.
School leaders are highly ambitious for pupils and hold each other to account in ensuring children attain high academic standards, but also are well prepared to make a strong contribution to the community in which they live. The curriculum is well developed and supports children into their next phase of education. Pupil progress meetings focus on individuals as well as groups to ensure that no opportunities are missed to close gaps in learning.
There is a strong focus on reading through The Valley Literacy spine that links to other subjects in a cross curricular manner and encourages children to make connections between different aspects of their learning journey. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about the author of the month and their favourite books.
Lessons are Engaging
Lessons are engaging and teachers are supported to allow pupil-led learning to adapt the planned curriculum.
Staff wellbeing is seen as important at The Valley. There is a wide range of teaching experience and expertise amongst the staff which is utilised well to support newer members of the teaching team. Weekly meetings with an assigned mentor are in place to support Early Career teachers as well as regular catchup conversations with a senior leader. Staff spoke very highly of the support they received on joining The Valley, especially as some had limited classroom experience due to teacher training being conducted during the Covid Pandemic. Teachers are all given time to observe each other, and as part of a coaching triad, they plan lessons together.
Teachers were enthusiastic about the supportive professional network at The Valley where structures and systems are in place to help everyone develop their skills. There is a strong ethos of reflective practice and self-driven learning. A mix of high-quality training programmes are in place that cover both whole school mandatory training such as Autism Awareness but also specific training that has been linked to more personalised identified needs such as the chance to go and visit a local special school.
Support staff are included in training plans to help them understand whole school aims. For instance, they spoke of subject teachers giving presentations to the wider staff group, explaining how their subjects progress as the children move through school.
The training and monitoring plan is co-ordinated at the start of every academic year with staff workload in mind. Staff feel well supported and cited the example of Covid when senior leaders took active steps to ensure their wellbeing. Staff say that the leadership team are always open to suggestions.
One teacher spoke about the chance for staff to spend an hour out of class with a treat box whilst the pupil group enjoyed mindfulness activities.
Collaborative Working is in Place
Collaborative working is in place with external agencies such as SEND support from the Ladywood Outreach team. Caseload meetings allow staff to go through their initial concerns about a pupil and the outreach team devises strategies to be put in place, as well as helping school staff to agree next steps in a child’s planned learning. Our Assessor said they had never been in a mainstream school where the ethos of SEND inclusion is so visible as at The Valley. Pupils with significant needs in some cases are seamlessly integrated into their peer groups and as most children travel through school from nursery, and the pupil population is very stable, children form close bonds with those peers who have special educational needs that they have grown up with. Teaching Assistants are strategically deployed to deliver quality assured interventions and personal support to an adapted curriculum as appropriate and take great pride in the work they do.
To see a school so clearly focused on academic achievement but also demonstrating highly inclusive practice is impressive to say the least. The phrase “we give every child what they need” really came to life when our Assessor learned that children with SEND are provided with weekly swimming lessons to learn water skills and support their confidence so that by the time their peers join swimming lessons, they can already show achievement.
ALL children spend quality time with the classroom teacher. Although there are high quality teaching assistants in place, teaching staff truly understand their responsibility as a teacher of every child in the class including those with SEND.
The Valley also supports children who are vulnerable in other ways. There are a wide range of clubs and opportunities to help vulnerable and disadvantaged children overcome any barriers to achievement and wellbeing they may have.
Communication with Parents
Communication with parents is open and focused on providing parents with the information they need to support learning at home.
A large amount of curriculum information is available on the school website including videos that explain how learning is planned and delivered.
Weekly newsletters keep parents informed about school life as well as an active Twitter profile, which gives a flavour of the opportunities available to children at The Valley.
Transitions both into school at nursery level and onto the next phase of education are flexible and bespoke according to what a child may need. There are Mother and Toddler groups in the linked Community Centre, Stay and Play visits for nursery, transition events for Year 6 with additional secondary school visits organised for those who may need it.
Regular parents’ evenings and coffee mornings take place at the school in order to build close relationships with families alongside the senior leadership team being present at the school gates both at the start and end of the day.
There is a focus across school on the lowest achieving 20% of children and systems are in place to involve parents in the work of closing identified gaps. One example of this strategy involves reading. Every child is heard to read once a week as part of the school universal offer. For those children who are falling into the lowest 20% of attainment, they are heard to read three times a week.
This relentless focus on precision focused intervention ensures children do not get left behind. Every parent gets the chance to come into school and see/hear their child read to a teacher twice a month. In this way, parents can pick up how the school teaches reading and they absorb the importance of comprehension skills alongside phonic de-coding in the process.
All in all, our Assessor said they thoroughly enjoyed their day at The Valley and was blown away by its commitment to high standards of inclusive practice.
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@example.com for further details.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.