Wessington Primary School in Sunderland has achieved the IQM Inclusive School Award.
Wessington Primary School is an averaged sized primary school serving a socially disadvantaged area in the Glebe, Washington Tyne and Wear. The school was graded as ‘good’ by Ofsted in November 2013 in all areas and outstanding for Leadership and Management.
Wessington Primary School serves 323 children from the surrounding area. The school is one form entry and has its own day care and nursery which is extremely well organised to ensure maximised learning opportunities and support for all pupils attending. The school benefits from sharing its site with the CAMHS service. This has lent itself to joint working and the school identify this as essential to meet the needs of the children accessing their provision. This is reflective in the service level agreement which the school prioritise to enable them to offer SEMH support to their children. The school prides itself on its Forest School, which is within the school grounds and use it creatively to ensure it is accessed by all children, both whole classes and as a form of intervention to target children with specific needs. All stakeholders spoke positively about this resource and its role in developing the children’s problem solving, resilience and social communication skills. The school endeavor to develop children’s independence and are currently prioritising the development of children’s ‘learning to learn’ skills through curriculum review and planned future INSET.
Importance of Pastoral Care
Wessington Primary School place as much priority on the pastoral elements of their school, as they do the academic needs of the children. They very much recognise the need to develop the ‘whole child’. This is evidenced in the curriculum that is offered, the school building and grounds and the extracurricular opportunities available to the children. There is a strong sense of belonging in the school with clear expectations for all. The families respect the school and all it provides for their children. The parents and children recognise they have a voice and are listened to.
Prior Attainment Below Expectations
The attainment of pupils when they start school is generally well below expectations due to the limited opportunities prior to starting school. The Head Teacher explained this is why the school is currently fighting to keep the two-year-old provision. As the earlier the children start school, the more progress they make.
Around 22 percent of children are on the SEND register with a range of needs such as ASC, speech and language difficulties and children with social and emotional needs. The school caters extremely well for this group of children, targeting support to meet the individual needs of all children and identifying need early. This is reflective in the staffing structure in the school, with a SENDCO in the 2-year-old and nursery provision and one for reception to year 6. In addition to this, teaching assistants are targeted at classes allocated for need. The timetable is planned so that these staff can offer immediate intervention for those children experiencing misconceptions or difficulties. There are also highly trained interventions such as firstclass@number, firstclass@writing and the Reading Recovery Programme, in order to support closing the gap between groups of children.
A Focus on Reading
School Leaders recognise the need to improve the school’s provision and progress in relation to reading. Developing a school improvement plan in relation to this area has ensured all stakeholders are clear in their role of improving this area. The recently purchased and implemented ‘Reading Plus’ programme is proving to accelerate progress in this area and boys particularly have been very responsive to this resource. The classrooms invite you to read, with some wonderfully creative reading areas. The playground reading hut, allows children to enjoy a calm environment during their breaks. In addition to this, they have appointed a Reading Recovery teacher during afternoon sessions this has had a significant impact on the children’s reading progress. The school leaders recognise the importance of good attendance. Attendance is currently 95.1%, marginally below the expected 96% nationally. The school’s Family Support Officer monitors attendance daily and supports families in difficulty or experiencing challenging circumstances to ensure their children access school. This role is an example of how the senior leaders are motivated to meet the needs of the changing cohorts as they move through the school. The Family Support officer’s previous role was to deliver a nurture programme to a group of year 5 and 6 pupils, following a life skills’ focus. These children have recently moved on to the next stage of their education and the school’s resources have been re-directed to family support, family learning opportunities and the day to day monitoring of attendance.
Staff are Passionate About Their School
Staff are passionate about their school and invest their time in their roles. Staff are committed to the children and families of Wessington, many staff having started at the school as NQTs, with the recently appointed Deputy Head Teacher being an example of this. The Senior Leaders and Governors acknowledge the commitment of staff and take pride in the ‘grow your own’ culture and the development of staff roles linked to the needs of their stakeholders. Recently, the school has employed several apprentices to complement the staffing structure making maximum use of funding whilst developing and strengthening the staff and provision on offer. A coaching approach is interwoven in the school’s culture as a vehicle for school improvement, this is reflected in the development of school staff into leadership roles.
A Welcoming Ethos
The Senior Leaders make themselves available to parents and families in need, with an approachable, informal and welcoming ethos contributing to the pastoral success to the point where parents do not need to ask for help from more formal services– the ‘door is always open’ at Wessington. The school has a strong Senior Leadership Team, with meticulous systems to ensure all staff have the appropriate knowledge to ensure the needs of all children can be managed using the correct strategies by all staff. This creates a positive, calm and purposeful learning environment.
Striving to Be the Best They Can
Wessington Primary School strives to be the best they can with a strong focus on school improvement. The school buys into the Gateshead School Improvement Team. In addition to this, they have formed good working links with two local schools. This has given many opportunities for moderation when implementing ‘assessment without levels’, sharing of staff expertise to strengthen and develop the staff team and joint projects. High priority is given to staff CPD with all staff benefitting from regular performance management and training linked to school need, education agenda and staff interests. Senior Leaders think creatively to structure the provision and staffing to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Recently, creating a new TLR post to specifically focus on the disadvantaged groups of children. Again, internal appointments have been made which demonstrates the quality of staff and the opportunities which have been made by leaders to cultivate staff expertise.
Opportunities for Staff Progression
The school offers a day care and nursery provision and is two form entry for year groups reception – year 6. The school has a clear leadership structure with embedded systems and policies. There have been many opportunities for staff progression and development with the school recently appointing a Deputy Head Teacher and Maths and English Lead internally.
Showcasing an Array of Whole School Achievements
Wessington Primary School building presents as a canvas to showcase an array of whole school and community achievements and projects. My favourite being the school ‘Snow Dog’, purchased for the school by GENTOO and decorated with the theme of children’s rights by children from across the school. The school holds the gold status award for the Anti-bullying Mark, gold award School Games and has recently been awarded the silver level of the Rights Respecting School Award. The school is constantly striving to achieve and is now working towards the gold Rights Respecting School Award and is aiming to achieve the Eco-award as a means of auditing and recognising the extensive work and opportunities the school offer through their Forest School.
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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