Ysgol Bryn Elian, in Conwy, Wales, achieves the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
Llwyddiant I Bawb
Bryn Elian is an inclusive school to its core. Despite the many challenges faced by the demographic, the school prides itself on the inclusive education it provides and celebrates the fact that 98 – 100% students consistently achieve Level 1 qualifications by the end of Year 11. The Senior Leaders explain how “this is an indication of how committed the school is to ensure that learners leave with qualifications and are ready to become successful professionals.” Their motto
“Achievement for All/Llwyddiant I Bawb”
embodies their aspirations for all students to succeed throughout their time at Bryn Elian. The staff “endeavour to ensure all learners make progress while in school regardless of their starting point.”
Though there is a collective ambition for all learners, the provision at Bryn Elian is completely bespoke and centres around every individual’s needs. There is a real dedication from staff at all levels to make any necessary adaptations to accommodate the needs of all students. The Senior Leaders are solution-focussed and develop creative responses to whatever issues arise to ensure all students can access their education and thrive. The Senior Leaders have a shared philosophy of doing everything possible to support their learners. They are relentless in finding solutions and, if a solution doesn’t already exist, they’ll create one. During the first meeting on the first day of the IQM Assessment, the Headteacher shared how “all the work we do is to remove barriers for the learners.” Whole-school development planning is student-centred, evidenced in the Development Plans, whole school policies and through every discussion and meeting which formed part of the assessment process.
Outcome Led on a Child Level
The Local Authority regard Bryn Elian’s inclusive provision highly and as “the standard” to which other schools should aspire. The staff at Bryn Elian regularly share their excellent inclusive practice with primary and secondary school colleagues across the Borough. They lead the way in terms of innovative inclusive practice and are not afraid to trial new approaches. The ALN Service Manager from Conwy County Brough Council explains how the “Headteacher [at Bryn Elian] has been instrumental in Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) developments” in the Authority. The Local Authority Representatives who contributed to the assessment process spoke positively about the inclusive practices at Bryn Elian, stating that the “vision is in keeping with ALN act, they are very outcomes-led on a child level, not needs-led” and they are “aspirational.” Through their work across the Borough, Bryn Elian is influencing inclusive practice across other schools in the area to improve the life chances of young people in their school community and beyond.
Engage to Achieve
The Individual Support Base (ISB) is a Local Authority funded Resource Base for students with complex needs that “allows learners to be integrated in a mainstream school environment with support from specialist teachers and teaching assistants.” The students learn English, Mathematics and Welsh in the ISB through a personalised curriculum. For their other subjects, they attend mainstream lessons, supported by Teaching Assistants and Individual Education Plans. The ALN Coordinator explains how “the ISB implements a range of strategies and resources to help students engage and achieve their potential.” Through the ISB provision, students take part in a variety of interventions with a focus on areas such as social use of language, to support them in developing their social and communication skills. During my visit to Bryn Elian, it was a pleasure to see how the students from the Resource Base are fully included in all aspects of school life and how happy they are. The curriculum is appropriately tailored to suit their individual interests and needs.
As with all schools nationally during the Covid-19 global pandemic, Bryn Elian noticed an increase in the number of young people experiencing anxiety and mental health concerns. For some students, these heightened levels of anxiety have led to prolonged periods of absence from school. To respond to this growing area of need, the school has established the Gorwel Attendance Support Centre to support and encourage the reintegration of students into mainstream education after a period of prolonged absence or for those who are having difficulties accessing school on a day-to-day basis. Gorwel translates as ‘horizon’ in English. This pioneering approach has been hugely successful in re-engaging the students and building their confidence to allow them to attend school again (considering their individual circumstances). The Gorwel provision has been carefully planned with a clearly articulated rationale. The support on offer is even more pertinent as we emerge from the pandemic. It is an effective model to support wellbeing as well as improving attendance and engagement with school.
The Pupil Support Centre (PSC) provides a further example of how Bryn Elian has shown a true commitment to supporting vulnerable children through devising a creative solution to make sure no young person is left behind. The PSC offers short term intervention for pupils with emotional, behaviour and social difficulties. The idea is to support them through targeted intervention in making sustainable changes to prevent them from being excluded from school. This model to end the cycle of repeated poor behaviour has been adopted by other schools within the Borough due to the fantastic impact.
Reflective Learning Culture
Bryn Elian’s Senior Leaders regular seek feedback from staff, students, and parents. This feedback is valued highly and used to inform improvement planning. There is a reflective learning culture that is instilled across all staff members and students alike. Staff believe their “role as professionals is to meet the needs of all […] learners.” The ethos with regards to introducing any new initiatives is that every decision is made through evaluating the proposed impact on students with decisions “only made if they have a positive impact on the learners.”
The success of Bryn Elian’s inclusive practice is ultimately due to the excellent relationships between all stakeholders at every level. Bryn Elian is a welcoming place with a friendly ethos where everyone is included to feel safe and part of the Bryn Elian family. It is a school that is inclusive in every sense of the word. The Local Authority describe the School as “holistic” as “they see all avenues of the child and are able to plan for those holistically to ensure the provision meets their needs.”
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 protected] for further details.
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