Blackshaw Primary in Bolton, Lancashire receives the Inclusive School Award.
Context of the School
Blackshaw Primary is a popular one form entry school with 241 children on roll. It has a nursery which provides child care on both a full time and part time basis. The Reception Class has been oversubscribed for the past 4 years. Blackshaw has a mixed catchment area of private and social housing in the town of Bolton.
The proportion of pupils who are eligible for free school meals is currently in line with the national averages following a long period of being above average. The proportion of children who have special educational needs is lower than average, but the school has strong secure provisions for those pupils whose needs are significant or complex. Blackshaw Primary prides itself on its inclusive ethos. Children are treated as individuals, “We fight for every child!” and everyone works hard to adhere to the school mission statement:
“Blackshaw is an inclusive school where every child’s unique qualities are embraced, challenged and celebrated within a safe and happy learning environment”.
Governors are Well Informed
Governors are well informed about inclusion and about the central part the standard plays in both the inclusive environment and in sustaining school improvement. They feel fully involved in all aspects of school life, not only through their class link and visits to school, but also from termly Governor Afternoons, regular meetings with subject co-ordinators and presentations from members of staff.
Inclusion is Embedded
All leaders, staff, governors, parents and pupils are committed to promoting and embedding inclusion throughout the school. Inclusion is embedded through Blackshaw’s ethos and mission statement. Children’s individual needs are identified early and resources and strategies are put into place. Everybody involved in Blackshaw is committed to inclusive practices. In the most recent Ofsted report it was found that there is a “culture where everyone strives to ensure that pupils are able to reach their full potential. No one is prepared to sit back and accept the status quo.”
The Co-ordinator Role is Established
The co-ordinator role is established and secure and carried out with great skill. Link governor support and challenge is appropriate and thoughtful and plays a significant part in the success of this school’s inclusive practices. Action plans are in place and regularly evaluated and developed. Individuals are celebrated daily and all achievements are celebrated in a variety of ways ensuring all children and parents feel valued.
Support Based on Individual Needs
Inductions and transitions throughout the school are secure and based on individual needs. There are secure strategies in place with outside agencies and the SENCO is part of the transition networking party to develop consistency between information sharing. There are comprehensive packs for the transition of both pupils and staff. The school works hard to ensure that transition into the school and later, to secondary school, is smooth and successful.
Safeguarding is Outstanding
Safeguarding is judged as outstanding in the SDP and Ofsted reported on the safeguarding procedures and agreed these were outstanding. Four members of staff have safeguarding level 3 certificates and governors have also received relevant training.
Staff Model School Expectations
All staff model school expectations and good relationships are developed with learners. In my discussion with members of the school council, children were very clear that the relationships they have with their teachers was very important to them and further, they rated the quality of teaching and the enjoyment of their lessons as one of the best features of their experience at school. When children do need some additional time, either for work or emotional support, staff have a good relationship with the children and are deployed to work with them. This can be through prior knowledge or by pupil voice.
The SLT strongly believe in continuous learning not only for children, but for adults too and there is excellent provision for professional development for governors and staff.
Achievement is Celebrated
Achievement of all kinds is routinely celebrated and evidence of this was found all over the school in the many displays in corridors and classrooms. Parents I spoke to were particularly pleased with the use of Class Dojo to celebrate their childrens’ acheivements.
Displays are Engaging
Displays in classrooms, corridors and the hall are engaging and consistent in quality. Hall displays and corridor displays are changed half termly. The hall displays are themed between reading, writing and topic and this is for the whole school. One particularly striking display contained original artwork from a visiting author who had worked with children on his book “Poo in the Zoo”!
Working Walls are Up to Date
Every classroom has a ‘Be a math magician’ display with a similar format. Working walls are up to date with what the children are learning and these work as an aid towards their weekly big write. Interactive work stations are in every room. KS1 have application stations for phonics and in KS2 each class has a spelling station. Role play is accessible in every classroom throughout school. These areas are linked to the dimensions topic. Investors in pupils display and class book are in every room. Targets are changed termly and linked to their own personal goals.
Reading is Important
Reading areas are in place in every room with guidance on what makes a good reader. Children add to their favourite books and whole class stories are available for the children to read independently. Every child has a piece of writing displayed in their classroom.
There were also displays of WAGOLLs in every classroom for a variety of subjects and thinking hats display for non-fictional writing. In the Year 6 class I visited, I was able to see the thinking hats in use.
Outdoor Area is Being Updated
The outdoor learning area is plentiful and used frequently. It is currently being updated for additional outdoor learning opportunities and offers the school a very valuable resource.
The school is accessible to all and there is excellent provision for children with additional needs. For example, there are wheelchairs and walking frames for pupils with severe cerebral palsy and a well equipped hygiene room with a permanently mounted hoist. The school also has a mobile hoist which has been used to enable these pupils to engage in PE lessons. During my tour I saw examples of IT in use and also included writing boards for some pupils.
With a vast array of adapted and specialist resources, it was very clear how this school anticipates and plans for every child’s needs successfully.
There are policies that reflect the school’s inclusive ethos including behaviour and rewards and it was evident in my observations that these are applied consistently throughout the school. It is a credit to the school that they have been awarded the Investors In Pupils Award.
Parents and pupils were very pleased with the range of extra-curricular activities available which include dodge ball, football, rounders, netball, gymnastics, fencing, ribbon dancing, running, walking, gardening club, computer club, homework club, cooking club, games club, art clubs, choir, violins, drumming, guitars and ukulele.
The Role of the School Council
School council apply for their role and are voted in by their peers in the class. They meet weekly and discuss school issues or concerns raised in their weekly class meetings. School council feed back to their classes and once a half term feedback in assembly. The Chair of governors attends a school council meeting each half term. There is a school council display in the corridor so the whole school is aware of councillors and issues and outcomes are displayed. Feedback is also shared with parents.
Good Monitoring Systems
Blackshaw has very good systems for monitoring, moderation, tracking and analysing all areas of the curriculum and all children and vulnerable groups across school. Observations throughout school show good and outstanding practices. Interventions are detailed and track impact on children’s progress. I was shown examples of how the school uses Venn diagrams to monitor groups of children in reading, writing and maths, end of term reporting sheets and print-outs from the school’s online tracking system, SPTO. In addition, there is effective triangulation of evidence including lesson observations, book scrutiny and pupil voice. All of this is, as Ofsted found, “…used effectively to accurately identify the strengths and weaknesses of the school”.
Parents are Very Positive about Their School
Parents I spoke to were very positive about their school and this is more widely reflected in the evidence contained in the regularly administered Parent View questionnaire. Welcome meetings are held at the beginning of the academic year. Each term there is an open-door day allocated where parents can come into class and take part in learning with their child. Parents were clear that communication between school and home is highly effective.
Communicating with Parents
All class teachers use class dojo and parents were particularly positive about this means of two-way communication enabling parents and staff to communicate quickly and easily.
The school website and blogging site is frequently updated and all policies and school information can be found easily.
Home/school diaries are used and staff comment on every child’s guided reading session in their diary and what they have focused on that week. For children who need more frequent communication, they have a home/school workbook. These are discussed between teacher and parent and an early help plan is normally in place.
Parents were confident that should they need to speak to school, then they could. One parent explained how she was a little anxious to begin with and no matter how often she called school, they were always understanding and very helpful. Parents felt that the school was like a “big family” and one in which “making memories” for the pupils and their families was important.
The PTA has Grown Stronger
Over the past few years, the PTA has grown stronger and successfully organised lots of different events that has generated a community feeling, as well as raising much needed additional money, in order to supplement the school’s budget. Parents were appreciative of the work of the PTA and cited several examples of events including seasonal fayres, discos and donkey rides! The recent Easter Bingo was a massive success and tickets for entry to the event were quickly sold out.
Governors hold Leaders to Account
Governors increasingly hold senior leaders to account for all aspects of the school’s performance. Governors are regular visitors to the school and are linked to sections of the school. They use data and the outcomes of their visits effectively and are aware of the strengths of the school and the areas for further improvement.
Governors are Reflective
Governors are reflective and forward looking and through the chair, they contribute to the school development plan and add a section pertinent to themselves. The governors access a range of training. They have access to the training provided by the authority in the governor training handbook. The chair of governors also highlights specific training that she feels would benefit governors, either due to their role on the governing body, or an area they have a strength or need more experience in. Governors enlist the support of the SIP and an external consultant to help them fulfil their role in holding the school’s leaders to account. The governors make very good use of the governor support services.
Governors are Highly Supportive
Governors are experienced and highly supportive of the school and its inclusive ethos, saying that “the school adapts to the child” and “every child is afforded the same opportunities”. As the recent Ofsted visit reported, “governors are not prepared to accept second best and robustly challenge leaders to tackle any identified issues in the school”.
Local Community Resources
Blackshaw makes good use of its local community resources. The school is fortunate to have a group of willing ‘experts’ who come into school and support aspects of learning, for example fire officer, artist, money skills workshop, E-safety workshop, health professionals and an Egyptologist.
Links with Local Secondary Schools
There are strong links with local secondary schools and through cluster networks with other primary schools. There is evidence that these links have been productive and effective in improving practice.
Family Learning Programmes
The school regularly runs family learning programmes and on the evening of my visit, a new ICT class was beginning. The school is also active in its charitable work and has raised money or support for the following: Bee stickers following the Manchester bombing, collecting food for the local animal shelter which burned down, Footsteps (cerebral palsy charity), Macmillan coffee mornings and the Roald Dahl charity amongst many others. At Harvest, the school arranges a collection from its parents and families and distributes it amongst its more needy members of the community.
Outcomes are Good and Improving
This is a school that is providing a very good experience for its pupil and their families. Outcomes are good and improving. There is a clear sense of warmth and an ethos and culture that ensures that everyone is respected and offered every opportunity to achieve their potential. That said, it is far from complacent and is constantly seeking to improve and share its practice. It was a pleasure to visit this lovely school.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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