Whitehill Community Academy in Halifax has become an IQM Flagship School.
Open and Honest
All the Senior Team are keen to have open and honest discussion about developments in the school and review its current position and practice. The SLT has a broad base, with due regard taken to the expansion seen in pupil numbers. This enables the Head of Inclusion to maintain an overview of children’s needs with other key staff available to support the role. She ensures that staff are clear about expectations and listens to their point of view. The SLT have worked hard to create an action plan for the future, some minor amendments have been included as a result of discussion to provide clarity.
Governors are supportive of the endeavours of the new leadership and engage with them in discussion relating to the school. They feel that they are consulted on school-based issues. Together with SLT and the LA they have made a conscious decision to have a high level of focus on Whitehill Community Academy and the local community. They are working with the SIP to further identify areas of focus and challenge.
A tour of the school, including outdoor space, was led by the principal in order to highlight developments and for changes to be discussed and shared. This tour started in Yr 6 and a walk was undertaken through the school to Foundation and Nursery classes. The Principal ensured that we had access to all areas of the school which enabled discussion to ensue about successes and ways forward.
A Shared Philosophy of Purpose
A PRU currently exists on the same site as the school and the school team is pleased that this will now come under the ownership of the school in forthcoming months. Exciting ideas about the use of the space to extend the facility for Leaps and Bounds, support/ alternative provision (a space currently in the main body of the school) are being considered. Access to the PRU made clear that teaching spaces and study spaces could be made available for use and change of decoration and a shared philosophy of purpose would ensure that the space will become an asset to the school.
The main corridor for KS2 has fully functional teaching spaces to support learning. Activities with appropriate challenge are undertaken with support staff to enhance learning. Library resources are readily available to support the children and are labelled and stored for ease of retrieval.
Lively and Interesting Displays
Displays in corridors link to work undertaken by the children and are lively and interesting. Classrooms in the KS2 corridor are well-organised, IT is accessible, and rooms are well resourced.
The Value of the Outdoor Classroom
The principal took time to share happenings outdoors to enhance the facilities available to children. On the day of the visit a firm, using construction machinery, was changing the play areas, to develop their use and make repairs. The school team recognise the value of the outdoor classroom and the benefits of enabling learning outdoors. It is in this context that the development of a small Forest school area is to be a feature. It is recognised that even in a small space that elements of Forest school can be practised, and this can be a stimulus for a variety of work especially for writing and reading with boys. Throughout the summer the intention is to further develop the playground and also create the nature area within the school grounds (see photo at the end of this document which exemplifies how such an area can be developed in a small space within a setting, that may be of some interest to the school team.) Outside the classrooms, throughout the school, there is a space for each class to use. It has been decided to spend time and budget on ensuring that these spaces are workable and worthwhile for teaching and learning.
The principal did not feel that the existing allotment area was currently well used so discussion ensued, and one suggestion is that this becomes a sensory garden with a textured pathway. This could be a space for reflection and link with the school’s developing work on mental health and well-being. A textured footway might be included, others could include a range of textures to support tactile experiences e.g. pebbles, slate etc. School ambassadors will be involved in the design of the new garden replacing the overgrown allotment area. Time was also taken to consider the outdoor area for Foundation and Nursery. These areas had been purposefully reviewed to enable opportunities for children to develop physically and each department was working to ensure children were able to take their learning outdoors. Further plans have been discussed to further enhance this over time. Consideration at all times is given to appropriate health and safety in the context of the outdoor equipment, which is pleasing.
A Team Working Together
As we walked through the school, we had the opportunity to ‘drop in’ to classrooms in KS2, KS1, Foundation and Nursery where we were welcomed by staff and children. The principal and I could see overall that children were on task and had meaningful challenges and areas of enquiry in which to engage. The principal seeks to ensure that everyone has a realistic view of attainment and that all the team work together to further develop.
Parents Attend Assemblies
An assembly was taking place in the KS1 Hall to which parents were invited. The children entered the hall in an orderly manner and were keen to participate. This was well attended by parents who were welcomed into school.
Moving Back to a Thematic Approach
Already a decision has been made to move back to a thematic approach within the curriculum to provide relevance and meaning to the children’s work. The staff feel confident with subject areas and are able to make appropriate links to ensure the children’s learning will benefit.
Committed to Inclusive Practice
The School Team is fully committed to Inclusive practice and is prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ to support the children in their care. They show determination and effort in all aspects of their work.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
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