Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM)
Whiteheath Junior Achieves Inclusive School Award
December 13, 2022 by Aileen Murphy (from IQM)
Whiteheath Junior School in Ruislip has achieved the Inclusive School Award.
Results Above National Levels
Whiteheath Junior School is three-form entry and is located in an affluent area of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Currently there are 330 pupils on roll and some do come from social housing. Of the pupils, 7% are recognised as having Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and need is changing in the school. Year 3 has more complex needs than the school has had previously. Pupil Premium is at 5%. There are over 24 languages spoken in the school and those children recognised as English as an Additional Language perform well and there is only one pupil who is at the early stage of English acquisition. The school’s results are above the national levels.
On the day of our Assessor’s visit everyone was looking very spotty as it was Children in Need Day and staff and pupils were supporting this. Despite the children not being in uniform and staff decorating themselves with coloured dots, the school was calm and the behaviour was excellent. Year 6 was very excited as children were off to Kidzania for the day, their first trip of the year, but were calmly lining up outside the school fence ready for their walk to the tube station. When they returned it was clear they had really enjoyed the day.
The school is set back from the road with greenery in front of it. The site itself is spacious with many opportunities for outside learning. There is a large field with trees around it as well as an Astro Turf area, an outside gym, an activity area and playgrounds. There is an area at the side of the school that is used by the gardening club and just round from that is a space that is used for science lessons. The school makes good use of its outside space.
Range of Opportunities Available
The inside of the building has a spacious feeling. Corridor displays celebrate diversity and respect for everyone. One wall has front covers of books to encourage reading and in the sports hall there is a mural created to celebrate the Olympic Games. As well as benefitting from a sports hall, the school has a music room, an ICT room, a phonics room and a library. These spaces illustrate the range of opportunities that are available to the pupils during the school day and during extra-curricular activities.
The Headteacher has a clear vision that is shared by the leadership team, staff and Governors. As a Governor said, “inclusion is what we do”. It is indeed an integral part of the school day as is delivering the curriculum. The Self Evaluation Form (SEF) states, ‘the curriculum is designed to ensure pupils are well rounded people who are prepared for the future’. The school’s motto, Opportunity, Confidence, Growth, is underpinned by four values: Respect for Ourselves, Respect for Learning, Respect for our School and Respect for Others. These values permeate the life and work of the school, being displayed in classrooms as well as being exemplified by the interactions between adults and pupils in the school.
Positive, Happy Atmosphere was Tangible
On our Assessor’s school tour, the positive, happy atmosphere was tangible. In the classrooms, the children were engaged in their learning and enjoying what they were doing. The group planning across year groups was evident as classes were completing the same work but it was adapted to suit individual needs. One example was the Ukrainian girl who has limited English. She was supported by a Ukrainian-speaking Teaching Assistant (TA) who had written up the timetable for the day in Ukrainian on the white board. The day of the week was also written in Ukrainian. There was no hiding of her background, in that her language was there for the whole class to see and to celebrate diversity.
Care and thought are given to how to practically support children. A non-verbal pupil who is having difficulty adjusting to the junior school is on a reduced timetable and a space has been set up for him where he can work outside of the classroom as and when he needs to. A Year 6 pupil is acting as a mentor to a Year 3 pupil, for example, spending time with him at lunch. The Year 6 pupil told me how he felt it was helping him to mature as well as to encourage the younger pupil.
Every class has an orange folder that contains the learning plans and support for individual pupils in the class. These are clear examples of how the school puts pupils first. In addition, there is a document entitled ‘Ordinary Available Provision’ which explores a wide range of additional needs and gives suggestions for support and adaptation as well as different approaches and strategies. Staff told me how useful this was.
There are 13 children in the school who receive support from the Speech and Language Therapist and nine who have Occupational Therapy support. The TAs attend the sessions with the external professionals so that they understand what support is needed and can offer appropriate interventions during the school day. Pastoral support is available on a one-to-one basis when needed and is able to offer support for a range of issues like anxiety and bereavement.
The curriculum is broad and balanced. Pupils learn Spanish as well as having the opportunity to learn a variety of musical instruments. There is a school choir which had just sung at the turning on of the Christmas Lights at nearby shops. Physical activity is encouraged and the pupils take part in a range of sports as well as being able to choose to participate in the daily mile. Outside of the curriculum, a wealth of opportunities is offered by the clubs: archery, film club, music lessons, cross country, to name a few. Clubs take place at lunch time as well as after school. The after school Fit for School provision offers half sessions that allows pupils to participate in the after school clubs. The pupils can try a wide variety of experiences. There is something there for all.
Open and Friendly Staff
Our Assessor was struck by how open and friendly the staff were in the meetings which took place and this illustrated the feeling while spending time in school. They were told repeatedly by staff, pupils and Governors that it was a happy school and that is certainly what was experienced on assessment day.
Staff have a team mentality. Teachers spoke positively of the TAs and their contribution to school whilst the TAs said how teachers supported them. They are a close team who are ready to step in to help when needed. They aim to give a consistent message to pupils. The two Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinators (SENDCo) were praised for the work that they do. They are always ready to listen and offer support and the training they give extends knowledge about individual needs as well as highlighting interventions and strategies that can be used. They support staff by attending meetings with parents if those meetings have the potential to be difficult. At all times they advocate what is right for individual pupils.
A teacher explained the ethos of the school is to focus on the importance of individual pupils. Staff know the pupils and allow opportunities for the more able to extend their learning as well as supporting those who are not always able to access the work. There are high expectations for SEND pupils as well as those who are academically able. Staff are clear about the need to develop the whole child in preparation for life.
The Merit Assembly which is held every Friday is a good example of this. Pupils are congratulated and rewarded for good work, character development and sporting achievement, to name a few. Teachers explain why an award has been given so that all pupils can understand what the achievement is. Sports teams are recognised and congratulated even if they have not won competitions. In addition, achievements outside of school are also celebrated. Our Assessor observed part of an Assembly, at which pupils and staff were sharing and enjoying the celebration.
The pupils are articulate and encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings. They can offer support to each other through the Playground Pals and were able to speak about the other opportunities there are for them to develop their skills in working with each other. They listed the School Council, Eco Monitors, Prefects and House Captains, understanding how these roles helped them to grow into rounded people. They spoke about how friendly the school was and that if you were ever feeling down, there was always someone there for you. It might be another pupil or an adult. They feel safe in school and enjoy their learning as it is fun and active. Staff are helpful, sharing work and giving examples of what to do next. They explained how good they thought it was that the clubs offered something for everyone and were not just focused on sport.
The parents welcome the support that they are given. There is a great deal of information on the website and there is regular communication from the school. There are year newsletters as well as whole school newsletters which keep them informed as to what has happened in the school. They like the fact that the pupils are involved in raising money for charities so that they are aware of other people’s needs. They feel that the school could not do more in supporting the needs of individual pupils and supporting them too as they go through the journey of assessment. All individual plans for pupils are available electronically for parents to access. Support and interventions are explained to parents and staff are easily accessible. The staff know the children well and the Headteacher knows the parents. A real strength of the school, they said, is that the children are supported to accept differences.
Transition is an important area for the school as pupils come in at Year 3 and then leave at Year 6. Good links are in place with the nearby Infant Schools and staff and pupils visit. Information about pupils entering the school is shared by staff. There is an emphasis on building a relationship with parents. Attention is given to pupils as they leave, preparing them for their next steps in life. This can take organisation since last year nineteen secondary schools were involved.
The Governors share the Headteacher’s view of inclusion. They know that the child is at the centre of all the work and see inclusion across the spectrum of need, challenge as well as support. The school is prepared to accept pupils with additional needs and is ready to adapt.
They know that teachers structure their lessons to meet the individual needs of the pupils. They spoke about the behaviour in school, in that pupils are very aware of consequences but that rewards and sanctions are personalised. The Governors meet regularly and Link Governors are attached to core subject leaders. They have had virtual meetings with other subject leads and intend to do this again.
Inclusion is an integral part of the school’s work and they should celebrate this.