Whitchurch Primary School in Cardiff has achieved the Inclusive School Award again.
Inclusivity at its Heart
Whitchurch Primary School is a large Primary School, one of the largest in Wales, with Inclusivity at its heart. Looking at the school’s description of itself on its attractive website, the words “happiness and wellbeing” jump off the screen. Add to those nouns the adjectives, “motivated, aspirational, respectful, compassionate, stimulating, exciting and enthusiastic”, and a picture develops which is in no way an exaggeration of what the visitor finds when walking around the school. Whitchurch Primary School lives up to all those adjectives, and more.
Learning from Mistakes
Whitchurch pupils learn that taking calculated risks, learning from your mistakes, asking friends for support and having fun exploring something new are all important parts of their education. The Headteacher is proud that her pupils
“speak their minds and are used to making decisions”.
Indeed, it has been known that the Whitchurch School Council has insisted on overturning a decision made by senior leaders. Having employed a graphic designer to develop pupils’ ideas for Learning Heroes, the children decided they preferred their original drawings, which have now been adopted. As the Headteacher puts it,
“Children need to be happy and settled to learn. It’s our duty to know the children incredibly well”.
A TA said,
“children can read us, and we read them,”
and they do. In this large school of over 700 pupils, senior staff members greet each child by name, and know their family circumstances too.
Curriculum for Wales
In the same way, Whitchurch Primary School is constantly learning and involving itself with exciting new developments. The school is a lead school to develop the new Curriculum for Wales and its leadership team sees this as an opportunity to develop:
“It should be a catalyst for change”, and “an irresistible curriculum”.
The school is a pioneer school for the development of the new curriculum,
“and so we are allowed to make mistakes, but we have to monitor the impact of what we try out.”
Currently the school’s focus is on health and wellbeing.
The school’s Inclusive ethos is as strong as it is because parents, carers, senior leaders, teachers and TAs all work together in giving every child the best possible start to their education. Commitment is total: every child is valued and nurtured.
Every Child is Enabled
This ethos is not just about a focus on vulnerable children or children with special needs: it also encompasses the children who have special abilities, talents or gifts. Children, if they are able and want to, can attempt Literacy at Level 6, join a winning sports team from a very wide choice of sports, develop their artistic skills, play in a 40-piece orchestra, organise a fundraising event independently and from scratch, and are also encouraged to share pictures and certificates from their many outside-school successes on the “Celebrating Success” board. Every child is enabled and motivated to take part in the astonishing range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities offered here. Parents and carers of vulnerable children say,
“This school is really caring!” and “We’re included in everything”.
The school’s approach to Inclusion also has its more hard-headed side. Interventions are monitored to check they are achieving required results, and if not, they are discontinued for that child and alternative approaches are sought. The school is constantly re-evaluating its work in all areas and the knowledgeable leadership team is open-minded to successful ideas from elsewhere. Staff members at all levels benefit from good-quality professional development, with TAs being well trained to work with small groups or individuals with specific needs, and young members of staff trained to middle management level as soon as they feel ready. Outcomes for some vulnerable pupils remain a little below that of their peers in some areas, but the school is aware of this and tracks progress carefully and regularly, with a well-chosen range of support and intervention programmes at hand when needed.
Children are Involved
Children are involved at every stage of their education and by the time they reach Year 6, they are open, articulate and clear about their personal goals. From the age of five they begin to evaluate their own work, and as soon as they can write, they start to peer-mark their friends’ work. Year 6 children have learned research skills and are encouraged to initiate their own topics. Eco-committee and School Council have a genuine voice.
Welcoming its Community
Whitchurch Primary School welcomes its community with open arms. The Headteacher’s warm personality drives the whole school’s family atmosphere: not easy to achieve in such a large school. It would have been easy for her to stay in her office for the two Nursery graduation events, or at least the second, but her presence, her smile and her pride in the children light up the room. No miniature graduation gowns for these Nursery children: each child had a bright T-shirt with their name and a self-painted portrait. The children sang in Welsh and with joy. They are proud to be themselves, and they are proud to belong to this lovely school.
Whitchurch Primary School had its first IQM assessment in 2015 and the school has either met or developed beyond its Points for Action suggested that year. In the same year, the school received an overall “Good” rating from Estyn, and those recommendations formed the core of the Whitchurch School Improvement Plan, with Governors continuing to consider reports on progress. The school has made rapid progress since then and has achieved numerous awards. The school leads the Whitchurch Cluster of 7 local primary schools.
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.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.