Woodmansterne Primary School, Lambeth has achieved the national award for inclusion for the second time.
A lot of developmental work has taken place in the last year since the IQM Centre of Excellence review. This has been a very important year for the school with the move to the new primary school building having taken place in the spring and with new year 7 pupils having been incorporated into the top floor of the building, while their new secondary school is built on the site of the former primary school. As a result of very careful planning and strong leadership by SLT, the transition has been very successful, with children enjoying their new building and classrooms and the new year 7 pupils having settled well into their new secondary school. The school has placed a very high priority on this transition, including ensuring that parents are happy with the new situation. Many visits were made to the new building by pupils prior to its opening and the overall impact on the school has been very positive. A tour of the new building highlighted the excellent environment for teaching and learning in classrooms and in the many intervention spaces in the wide corridors and other spaces. Facilities include a specialist music room, a lovely library, which is also used for interventions, a sensory room, a room for Place2Be counsellors, an area for the pastoral manager and learning mentors, a technology room with cooking facilities, and a large hall, which can be divided into two for flexible use. A new SENCO has been appointed who is working closely with parents and with the inclusion team to ensure that the needs of the large and increasing numbers of children with SEND are being met. There are currently 22 children with EHCPs in the school with a further 4 in application and this number is likely to increase as more parents realise the excellent opportunities provided by an all through nursery to sixth form school, providing stability and continuity that will be very beneficial to children with SEND. Teachers and support staff continue to ensure that pupils with SEND are catered for within their lessons through excellent differentiation and appropriate teaching strategies. Staff also ensure that the classroom environment is appropriate to their pupils’ needs and there is a very attractive display in all the classrooms with excellent organisation for learning. The school is still growing to four forms of entry and this process is now up to year 2. The school has taken the major changes in its stride with excellent leadership from SLT and superb teamwork from all staff, so that innovations in inclusive strategies continue and its very high standards are maintained.
Meeting Pupils’ Needs
Visits to lessons and intervention sessions on the day, reinforced the excellent and diverse strategies used to meet pupils’ needs. A Lego session, ably led by a member of support staff, for 3 Year 5 pupils with ASD, underlined the sensitive and caring approach taken to ensure the children can develop their social skills as well as their academic skills. In the nursery where many pupils, often from eastern European backgrounds, arrive with no English skills and where several children already have EHCPS, all children were happily engaged in activities to develop their skills. Two teachers and four support staff supported children’s learning. A specialist teaching assistant worked very positively with a disabled child and two others ensuring that he was actively and happily engaged in the classroom. A brief visit to a year 2 lesson illustrated the enthusiasm of children and their ability to listen carefully to their teacher who was clarifying the learning they had been doing in Maths. A visit to a year 7 Maths lesson highlighted the excellent work on Maths Mastery with differentiation and support enabling all children to succeed. Behaviour is excellent all around the school, which is a credit to the work of all staff and in particular to the efforts of the learning mentor and other pastoral staff to prioritise some key children for behaviour support, especially on transition to year 7. The large numbers of pupils with EAL, over 60% of the school population, are ably supported in classrooms through excellent QFT strategies enhanced by speech and language work across the school, supported by the SALT.
Developing Pupils’ Leadership Skills
The school has a number of roles for pupils to take on to develop their leadership skills. These include school council, peer mediators, digital leaders and house captains. The school council is an important group in the school that is elected by their peers. They meet regularly and bring along their notebooks with suggestions from their peers on the questions that have been raised at their meeting. Current discussions are taking place on the food provision at lunchtimes and the council will be feeding back their views and suggestions to the catering company. This group is organised and led by a member of support staff, again highlighting the significant role support staff play in the school. I was able to meet the full school council team on the day, including the year 7 representatives. Pupils were keen to talk about their lunches as well as other issues they are working on, including attendance and punctuality rewards. They also spoke enthusiastically about ‘Growth Mindset’ and what it means for them. They explained the ways in which their teachers encourage them and give them extra help if they need it and they also explained the way they develop confidence to ask questions and to have self-belief. They were also very happy to explain the varied opportunities the school provides for them, including many clubs and trips. Comments from pupils about their school included, “There are staff to help us in our groups, which is really good”, “ It’s very fair: we are treated with trips and rewards and so it’s even”, “I like events like the summer fair and the PTA raises lots of money for the school”, “All the teachers and TAs are very caring”, “Everybody here is positive and happy”, “It’s very friendly and supportive and we have Place2Be to help us”, “We have fun lessons, for example, making circuits in Science”, “The school is open to lots of things, for example, competitions so everyone can have a go – it’s not just one team for everything so we do lots of different things”, “There are lots of fun subjects like French and we get treats, for example, when the circus came”, “I like the different coloured groups that we collaborate in”.
Teaching and support staff are valued for their skills: quality first teaching demonstrates outstanding practice and teachers are continually reviewing and further developing their skills to meet the diverse needs of all children. Support staff also play a vital role in the school, leading whole areas of work, planning and implementing interventions, supporting in class and providing crucial support, for pupils and their parents. They are part of the Inclusion Team, which is led by the Inclusion Manager and SENCO and meets regularly to ensure the needs of all children are met. In this school support staff are proactive, flexible and motivated and their ideas and expertise are valued. In classes teachers and support staff work very well together, supporting the different needs of pupils in small groups or individually. There have been a number of changes in the way support staff are organised as result of the changes in the school, for example, the 4 forms of entry and the staff take all this in their stride: they are flexible and are keen to take on new responsibilities and to try new challenges. Staff spoken to described the work they have been doing to support children through tailor-made interventions, including pre-teaching and a lot of work on literacy, speech and language and Maths. They also lead extensive work to develop targeted pupils’ emotional wellbeing. Strategies used include one-to-one support to encourage children to talk about their emotions, ‘drawing for talking’ and puzzle club and story club at lunchtime to provide secure spaces and activities for vulnerable children. Support staff are also part of the team that is leading on development of the ‘Growth Mindset’ approach in the school. They are currently working on strategies to encourage and reward mistakes and to overcome fears. The aim is for children to reflect on what they have learnt from their ‘best mistakes’ and to praise their efforts. Staff try the strategies out prior to training other staff and they also get the parents on board so that they can use the same approach at home. The next step will be to organise a workshop for parents led by the school council. The interventions and strategies used by support staff enable children to develop their self-confidence. One HLTA described the work she has been doing in the nursery to develop a child’s vocabulary and self-confidence. This has involved close parental communication and, as a result, the child is growing in confidence and is making relationships with peers. Support staff are given opportunities to develop their skills through many training opportunities and the school is keen to offer them relevant courses to extend their expertise. An STA has run Lego therapy and precision teaching with very positive results. Another teaches French as well as leading the school council. They are able to explain clearly the difference their interventions have made to the progress of individual pupils. The learning mentor described the ELSA training that he has received that has enabled him to further develop his skills in working with children with social, emotional and behavioural needs. The two pastoral managers provide very important support for children and their families who have behavioural, social and emotional needs and the well-established ‘Place2Be’ team also provide much needed one-to-one and small group support for children’s emotional and social needs. The expertise and commitment of these staff continues to be an exceptional feature of the work of the school and they have clearly been crucial to the school in the huge developments that have taken place in recent years, including the increase in pupil numbers to 4 form entry and the move to a new building, which also incorporates a new secondary school with 90 year 7 pupils. The support staff speak very highly of the school leadership and especially of the excellent way they have ensured the transition to the new building and into taking on year 7 pupils has worked so smoothly. They also mentioned the way the year 7 have integrated into the school and how they are happy to see the younger children around. Support staff have also supported children from year 6 into year 7, which has made it a very smooth process, especially for those children with SEND.
Exceptional Features of the School
Exceptional features of this school include the overall ethos of supporting and developing the self-confidence of all children with a relentless focus on meeting individual needs through outstanding teaching and learning; the excellent teamwork, expertise and commitment to children and families shown by support staff; the superb work of the Inclusion Team in ensuring that children’s individual needs are focused on and the excellent transition strategies that ensure children are able to adapt to new settings.
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