Weston Mill Community Primary Academy in Plymouth, Devon has achieved the Inclusion Quality Mark’s Inclusive School Award
There Is A Warm Welcome
It is very evident from the academy that you are entering a warm, nurturing, inclusive family environment. Each child was greeted by name, warmly welcomed, and praised while they selected their lunchtime meal. Family queries were dealt with calmly and efficiently. Throughout the day, it was clear that the children were known individually by all staff. In turn, they respected all adults and fully embraced the academy values of Ready, Respectful and Safe. Pupils explained that this meant they needed to be ‘ready to learn, respectful to others and to keep safe through good behaviour’. Pupils said they could always ‘rely on the teachers’ as they ‘are here to help us and really listen to us’.
The staff who work in the HUT who use Thrive, Trauma Informed Practice continue to work successfully with vulnerable pupils who are really struggling with learning and regulating their behaviour many of whom require 1:1 support. A wide range of therapeutic approaches are used and around the academy, additional small rooms are used to provide safe workspaces until the children feel more able to return to learning with their peers.
Supporting Inclusive Practice
Over the past two years, the Trust has developed and run Nurture provision for Plymouth in an (Edison centre) which aims to reduce the need for exclusions. This year Plymouth have funded the development and expansion of this programme and opened a second centre based at Temple Mill to meet the needs of the increasing number of pupils at risk. Currently, 2 children from schools across the city attend the centre at the school on 6-week placements. Working together with an Educational Psychologist, families, and the host school, children are beginning to re-engage with learning. Although it is in the early stages it is an exciting development to support inclusive practice and reduce the need for exclusions.
There is an ambience of care, support, positive engagement, and relationships in the academy. Notwithstanding the focus on care and support, the academy has ensured that its approach to the development of a thematic spiral curriculum encourages children to be creative thinkers as well as progressively develop their essential subject knowledge and skills. Using a discovery ‘Big Question’ pupils engage on an exciting learning journey based around STEM subjects. In Year 6 pupils were considering the question ‘What is a Biome’? While in Year 5 pupils talked about their ‘Changing the world’ project using their geographical knowledge and skills to explore environmental issues and plastic pollution. They were very excited about how they were planning a final broadcast to showcase their learning.
Closing Learning Gaps
The academy recognises that many pupils are not yet working at age related expectations but are ambitious and staff are working hard to close learning gaps and accelerate learning. Year 1 and Year 2 classes have been most impacted by the pandemic as they missed a considerable number of early years learning and social learning experiences. The academy has acted swiftly to adjust planning and the role of additional staff. Consequently, teaching assistants are now used flexibly and move around the classes to meet individual needs or support individual children or small groups as the needs arise.
Staff Feel Supported
Staff, team, and subject leaders feel supported and valued by senior leaders and value the wide range of CPD opportunities provided. New leaders are developing their monitoring skills well and agree that a next step for them is to increase the use of pupil voice in their monitoring so they can check more accurately what pupils know, understand and recall as a measure of their learning and progress in non-core subjects.
The academy serves a deprived area of Plymouth with many families experiencing difficulties in their lives, which have sadly been exacerbated by the Pandemic. As a result, several families have found it difficult to re-establish positive early morning routines, while sadly there are an increased number of children who have experienced trauma in their lives who now find it difficult to engage with learning and are reluctant to attend school. However, the academy does not use this as an excuse. Rather it leaves no stone unturned to engage with these most vulnerable families and their children and has achieved a great deal of success.
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.
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