Ysgol Glan Gele in Abergele has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Flagship status.
Children Are Well Cared For
Ysgol Glan Gele is a large Nursery and Infant School located in Abergele, North Wales. As a Trauma-Informed School, whole-school approaches ensure that “relationship is at the heart of every interaction and supports the whole school community including our pupils, parent(s)/carers, staff and all other agencies working with Ysgol Glan Gele”. The school’s inclusive ethos is underpinned by the Trauma-Informed philosophy, meaning that children are well-cared for. Their wellbeing is prioritised above all else.
On the school’s website, the rationale for the Trauma-Informed practice is outlined, stating, “we aim to ensure that all our pupils develop positive mental health and resilience, enabling them to fully engage in life and learning”.
Trauma-Informed School (TIS) approaches form the basis of how behaviour is managed at Ysgol Glan Gele. All staff are TIS-trained, with a significant number having completed the full diploma.
When asked about the impact of this training, staff talked about how they are now “emotionally attuned to other adults, being kind and taking the time to listen to them” as well as being a “lot calmer and having empathy with the children”. When a child becomes dysregulated, staff reflect on the reasons behind the behaviour.
One staff member said that the Trauma-Informed training “changes the way you think”, and you, “look at your class in a different way”. It is evident that all staff are aligned to the TIS principles, which ensures that the pupils experience a consistent approach which makes them feel safe and secure throughout the day.
Inside Out Programme
To empower parents and carers in offering a similar approach at home, the school has developed an ‘Inside Out’ programme. During the review, our Assessor attended an Inside Out session on mindfulness for parents and carers of the Nursery children. The first part of the workshop involved just the parents and carers for an introduction to mental health awareness, and the importance of forming meaningful connections with children from a young age. Parents and carers looked at strategies for looking after their own mental health and wellbeing before then looking at ways to engage in meaningful play to develop secure attachments with their children.
For the second part of the workshop, the children were working with their parent/carer to put into practice the mindfulness activities, which focussed on recognising the different emotions. Staff were able to role-model the methods and provide ideas of activities which families could then do together at home. Parents and carers who attended spoke positively about the workshop. They feel that the “provision for mental health is great”.
Dads (and male family members) were also invited into school during the review day for the ‘Dads and Lads’ Forest School session. They were learning about tree identification and how to age trees as part of International Tree Week. There was a real buzz as the children excitedly showed their dads, grandads and brothers what to do.
One father said, “it’s really good to be here and interacting with my son”. Another commented that, “it is good to see what they are getting on with at school” and they feel “proud to see them in this environment”. The children were also pleased to have their ‘dads’ with them. Pupil feedback from the session was overwhelmingly positive, with children saying, “I liked the marshmallows and counting tree rings”. One child commented, “I did not know trees have rings, I enjoyed being outdoors and spending time with dad”.
Inclusive Practice is Outstanding
Parent and carer evaluations from the previous session in March were also positive, with parents and carers commenting that, “I enjoyed team building with my son” and “seeing [my son] having fun in his environment”.
A group of parents, carers and Governors very kindly came into school to meet with the Assessor as part of the IQM reaccreditation process. They all think that the school’s inclusive practice is “outstanding”. They love coming into school as there is a “warm vibe” and staff are “really supportive”. The staff know the children and parents well; it is one big family.
Every child is treated as an individual and the staff are more than accommodating of any additional challenges. If there is ever an issue, parents and carers are never made to feel as though it is a problem; they feel listened to. Staff are genuinely committed to supporting the children and their families. There is a sense of belonging amongst all stakeholders.
Ysgol Glan Gele pupils behave well and show high levels of engagement during lesson time. All pupils spoken to throughout the review day said that they feel safe and happy at school. When asked about the staff, they said, “the teachers are amazing and help us learn”.
Rights Respecting School
The Rights Respecting Schools Pupil Committee and School Council Representatives met with our Assessor during the review visit. They are passionate about, “ensuring everyone knows their rights” and all work together to “raise money for children who have had their rights taken away from them”, for example the children in Ukraine. They are planning a series of assemblies to embed the UNICEF Articles as well as developing a Playground Charter to ensure all children have their rights protected throughout the day.
Pupils’ wellbeing is prioritised by all staff. The Family Liaison Officer runs a nurturing morning intervention session in the Sunshine Room for any children who are identified as needing additional care and support due to circumstances outside of school. This Nurture Intervention provides a safe, calming start to the day. It encourages any reluctant attenders to attend as the activities are fun. There are always breakfast item and snacks available too.
During lunchtime, the Lunch Bunch provision offers a calm, secure space for any children who struggle during the unstructured times. It takes place in the Intervention Room, with relaxing music and sensory toys available to help pupils regulate. There are activities and games on offer as well as the chance for the Teaching Assistant to talk to the children. As evidenced through these interventions, there are numerous opportunities throughout the school day for children to talk to staff about their wellbeing.
Supportive and Nurturing School
As a supportive and nurturing school, Ysgol Glan Gele welcomes Associate Teachers to carry out their training placements there each year. As well as the excellent development opportunities they offer their own Associate Teachers, the Deputy Headteacher, who is also the Network Lead responsible for training the Mentors, invites the Year One Associate Teachers from Bangor University to spend a full day at Glan Gele as part of their Lead School Day sessions.
On the review day, a large group of Associate Teachers were attending a Lead School Day session with a focus on supporting pupils with ALN. One of the Associate Teachers taking part in the training, who also happens to be on placement at Glan Gele, said, “it has been really informative. I have learnt a lot already with lots of information shared and we got to observe it in practice”.
When asked about how the school supports its trainee teachers, they said “the staff are all really helpful and knowledgeable”. Each Friday there is a meeting for all Associate Teachers and their in-school Mentors, additional to their individual mentor meeting sessions, which is “invaluable”. The leaders invest a significant amount of time and resources on developing new and future teachers to ensure that they are upskilled to provide the best education for the young people of Wales.
Staff at Ysgol Glan Gele offer a plethora of bespoke interventions to provide additional support to targeted pupils as needed. During the review day, our Assessor observed the Ready, Steady Go! Intervention which was developed by Ysgol Glan Gele staff to boost early literacy skills. It takes place in the Community Cabin, a cosy wooden outbuilding. In the session observed, Year 2 pupils were learning to apply the Year 2 key words to sentences and write independently. Each child had a support pack of materials which included high frequency words, sound cards, story cards and handwriting prompts. The Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) who was leading the session encouraged the children to sound out the words as they were reading.
Talk Boost session
The Assessor then had the pleasure of observing a Talk Boost session. All staff at Glan Gele have been trained to deliver the Talk Boost Intervention for children with identified speech and language difficulties. This has been highlighted as an increasing area of need, with currently 63 children identified as having speech and language development needs. In this session, the HLTA was working with a group of four children.
The HLTA modelled the activity, which was to take an unknown object out of a bag and say what it is. Using tone of voice and expression, the HLTA made the activity exciting. All pupils were engaged and enjoyed describing the objects. The HLTA subtly repeated what the children said with correct pronunciation and encouraged all to repeat. Responses were developed with prompts from the HLTA. It was clear that the children felt comfortable to practise speaking in a fun, safe environment.
All spaces throughout the school are maximised to be used for intervention sessions. There is also a large Intervention Room which has a classroom-style lay out with a calm corner, sensory play area and working wall displays.
During the review, our Assessor observed the Narrative Intervention taking place in there. The Teaching Assistant was delivering the targeted support on specific narrative targets to children who have been referred for specialist Speech and Language Therapy. Using the four narrative concepts “who? where? when? and what happened?”, the children were making predictions about a story.
Enthusiasm and Infectious
The TA was very animated, expertly engaging the children through facial expressions and tone of voice. The children’s enthusiasm was infectious. They were very confident and happy when responding to questions. This intervention not only develops their speech and language skills but is great for their wellbeing and confidence.
Read Write Inc. (RWI) is the phonics programme employed whole-school. The ALNCo recognises that for some pupils with ALN, the programme is difficult to access for extended periods of time due to the structure, which is highly effective for the majority of learners. Therefore, the staff developed the Glan Gele tailor-made Read Write Inc. Extra intervention programme. It is a unique, multisensory approach to teaching phonics, based on the RWI scheme.
The session takes place every morning in the Community Cabin whilst RWI sessions are running throughout the school. Certain pupils who struggle to access the mainstream sessions are supported by Learning Support Assistants to access the Read Write Inc. Extra provision.
To provide a multi-sensory experience, the intervention includes letter or sound-based activities using a water tray, pasta shapes, sawdust, sand, shaving foam, playdoh, painting, and plastic letters. Each child has an individual plan which is followed through flexible learning activities. Our Assessor observed an autistic child, who would usually become dysregulated during phonics sessions, fully engaged in the session. The children are developing their phonics knowledge through multi-sensory play in a small, safe learning environment.
Staff are Forward Thinking
The staff at Glan Gele are forward thinking. The school has an excellent reputation in the local community and nationally. The Deputy Headteacher describes the inclusive ethos as a “team” approach, “because the staff are an amazing team” who “care about each other”. Due to its recognition as an excellent school, Ysgol Glan Gele has been a Pioneer School since 2017 and has been involved in developing the New Curriculum for Wales.
Within a national consortium of schools, Glan Gele is a National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP) School. As part of the NPEP, the staff lead enquiries in their own setting to develop practice and support the wider schools in the network.
Every teacher has their own enquiry. To record and evaluate their enquiry, and reflect on any professional development training sessions they undertake throughout the year, all staff have an Enquiry Journal. This reflective culture amongst staff ensures that the school is continually developing its practice to maintain the high standards of education.
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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