Whitefield Primary School in Liverpool has achieved the Inclusive School Award for the third time.
Whitefield Primary School is a slightly larger than average-sized primary school with 310 pupils on roll including their nursery provision. Situated in Everton, Liverpool that is an area of significant social and economic disadvantage which has 97.6% of the ward falling in the most deprived 5% of neighbourhoods nationally. More than four fifths of the ward (84.5%) is in the 1% of most deprived areas nationally. Disadvantage and vulnerability are barriers that are acknowledged, understood and overcome. By this outstanding, superbly inclusive school. Early Years baseline data shows that over 85% of children come into Nursery below age-related expectations, with over half significantly below. Therefore, they provide an extremely strong profile of experiential learning opportunities alongside a rich and full curriculum in order for these pupils to catch up with their peers. The school was deemed Outstanding in November 2017, with Ofsted stating, “Leaders are unflagging in giving pupils the nurture and support they need to succeed. As a result, pupils’ progress from their different starting points is outstanding. Teachers use their excellent subject knowledge to teach lessons that stimulate and challenge pupils very effectively. Teachers have high expectations of their pupils’ learning and behaviour, which results in excellent progress” and, in my opinion, this continues to be the case. With a consistently strong academic record, where they have appeared in the Real Schools’ Guide 2019 where Whitefield was ranked 5th in the top 10 schools and second in Liverpool, a fantastic accolade for the work the school puts into achieving successful outcomes for all of their pupils and recognising their consistent high standards over a number of years.
Superb Commitment to Pupils
The school continues its superb commitment to its pupils and their families providing a highly inclusive teaching and learning environment for all. This is reinforced by their motto ‘Nothing but the best’ and by their mission statement, ‘We value each child for who they are and prepare them for who they can be.’ This is truly a school where every pupil really does matter and is made to feel special. This is a fact I can attest to from the evidence of the review and from discussions with stakeholders. The school and staff are committed to providing the very highest standard of teaching and learning experiences which not only develop the pupils’ knowledge and skills but develops them as individuals ready for life in the 21st century and beyond. Superb care, nurture and support is the very foundation on which the school builds its educational practice and that inclusion is at the heart of everything that happens daily at the school and is seen in all interactions, occurring naturally as a matter of course. This was clearly seen and identified from discussions with all stakeholders during the review and from the evidence provided. Everyone involved with the school including pupils and parents pull together to realise the school’s vision and understand that this is a superbly inclusive place to come to work and learn. This is clearly demonstrated by the way in which parents are supported through parent groups that offer Yoga and also sessions for children and parents, the after-school Reading Café for children and families and reading together opportunities to name but a few of the numerous activities offered by the school. This is clearly a school that is at the heart of its community where inclusion is a natural part of what normally happens in school, where pupils are encouraged to reach their full potential, where everyone involved is committed to the inclusion of all, whatever it takes. A school that is constantly looking at ways to develop for the benefit of the pupils and families that it serves.
Vibrancy and Buzz
There is a very real vibrancy and a buzz about the school, its learning environment and a very clear focus on helping pupils to develop the skills they need to be active participants in their community and in society. Everyone I met was helpful and spoke very positively about their experience at the school. This is a school with a focus on improving the attainment and wider outcomes for all students and not just promoting the learning of the lowest or highest achievers. As with the previous reviews undertaken by IQM assessors it is clear to see that the school’s actions to care for and nurture pupils in my judgement is superb.
For the Benefit of the Pupils
Everything the school does, is for the benefit of their pupils, they are valued for who they are and what they will become, no matter their starting point. The staff are exceptionally positive about the school and naturally go the extra mile and beyond without thought to ensure that the individual and groups of pupils’ needs are met. The superb quality of support, care and nurture within the school enhances the provision here.
Staff are justifiably proud of what they achieve both professionally and in terms of support for the pupils and themselves. They work exceptionally hard to ensure that needs are met and it is very clear to see as walking around the school that there is mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body and a fantastic rapport between the staff, the pupils in the school and between the staff at all levels. A mutual regard and respect that shines through was seen throughout the review in all interactions between staff and pupils and between staff.
A Clear Vision
Staff led by the Headteacher and her senior team have a clear vision for the school and “their” pupils and a relentless determination and drive for all to succeed, this came across very clearly in meetings and discussions with staff and with a number of pupils I met and talked to and is a very real strength of this outstanding and superbly inclusive school. The behaviour and safety of pupils seen during this review was exemplary. Everyone involved with the school should be immensely proud of the way they conduct themselves around the school. Pupils, through a variety of different opportunities, have a strong pupil voice. Parents are well informed of their children’s progress and what they can do to support the school and their child’s development. This partnership is a very clear key strength of the school, with everyone actively involved in shaping and developing the vision of the school and communicating extremely effectively through its website, letters, texts and social media.
Everyone is Extremely Positive
During the review process I was able to talk to a variety of staff, who spoke to me openly and frankly about their roles in the school and what was offered to support pupils and their families. Everyone without exception was extremely positive about the school and they highlighted the fact that in their opinion the school was naturally a very inclusive setting. It was clear from the conversations that everyone involved in the school was highly empathetic and understood the needs of the children they taught and supported extremely well. It was very clear from what was said and what was seen during the review that there are no barriers at Whitefield Primary School, everyone is included and looked after to the best of their ability demonstrating the school’s superb level of inclusivity. I spoke to the Mental Health Lead who has been trained in Mental Health First Aid and who provided opportunities for pupils to touch base, have a chat and discuss issues and worries and plans to expand what is offered in this respect with more staff to be trained and the possibility of a member of staff training as a Counsellor that would be an excellent addition to what the school already offers.
Excellent Support Offered to the School
There was also the opportunity to discuss with the Mental Health Lead about the excellent support offered by the Liverpool 6 Community Centre nearby that is supported by a local Councillor and provides after school clubs for pupils and activities during holidays to name just a few and also gives the school access to a minibus and driver to take pupils on trips and visits. They are also providing books on Neurodiversity to add to the school library. This is a fantastic resource supplementing what the school is able to offer. The school is also involved in piloting a Peer Mentoring Project created by Dr Nick Barnes of the East London NHS Foundation Trust. The programme is designed to create a support programme for vulnerable children in Year 6 to support their transition to Year 7. Whitefield are working with North Liverpool Academy on the project during the summer term and are also keen to develop peer mentoring across the school. It will be interesting to see how this has developed at the school’s next IQM assessment. The School’s Mental Health lead also offers emotional and well-being support to pupils and parents with Yoga and Mindfulness sessions and also with yoga and fitness sessions offered to staff.
Outdoor Provisions Coordinator
I was able to speak to the school’s new Outdoors Provision Coordinator about the work she had undertaken during the last year and her future plans in this respect. She explained how work was progressing and improving what is already an exceptional offer outside of the classroom for pupils at Whitefield. Part of her NPQSL work was focussed on The Forest Schools’ Programme with a research aspect looking at “Whether Outdoor Learning can affect the Mental Health and well-being of children.” She is keen to develop a forest school area identified in the school and other outdoor learning areas that will support positive outcomes for their pupils. It will be interesting to see the developments in this area at the next assessment point.
I was also able to talk to the Early Years Lead about her work in the school. She is also a member of the Quality Improvement Team for EYFS at School Improvement in Liverpool (SIL) and has worked cross LA with Wigan and Bolton, a tremendous asset for the school.
Every Pupil Really does Matter
In conclusion it was very clear from the review that this is truly a school where every pupil really does matter and is made to feel special. The school and staff are committed to providing the very highest standard of teaching and learning experiences which not only develop the pupils’ knowledge and skills, but develop their confidence to become innovative, independent learners, who take responsibility for their own learning and actions. The superbly caring, inclusive environment that Whitefield Primary School provide ensures each pupil receives the very best education possible, delivered by dedicated staff. There is a clear belief held by, and enacted, every day that each pupil is entitled to experience as many opportunities as possible in order to broaden their life experience, develop confidence and self-esteem; allowing each pupil to find what is unique about them and to capitalise upon it, whilst easing through areas of challenge.
Superb Care, Nurture and Support
In terms of inclusion Whitefield is an outstanding school in every sense. It’s clear that superb care, nurture and support the foundation stones of inclusion are at the heart of everything that happens on a daily basis at the school seen in all interactions between staff and pupils and between pupils and between staff, from discussions with all stakeholders and from evidence provided. Everyone involved with the school pulls together to realise the school’s vision and understand that this is a superbly inclusive place to come to work and learn. Everyone should be commended for their superb efforts in making Whitefield such a special place.
An Outstanding Teaching and Learning Environment
The environment is superb providing an outstanding teaching and learning environment for teachers, support staff, pupils and the local community.
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