IQM Flagship School Review

We received the report for our 'IQM Flagship School Review Report' and have been awarded Flagship status for another year. 

'Flagship Review Date: 19th June 2019

A lot of developmental work has once again taken place in the last year since the IQM Flagship Assessment. The school has continued to develop its leading role in sharing its excellent practice on all aspects of inclusion across its trust group of schools. The Headteacher has now become the Executive Head of Timbercroft and one other within the Maritime Academy Trust (MAT). This is a mark of the superb work on inclusion that she has led over the past years at Timbercroft and will ensure that their inclusive practice will be disseminated within the trust schools. As a result of this change and the appointment of the former deputy Head/Inclusion Manager of the school to Head ship within the trust, the school has made major leadership changes over the past year. As with everything it does, the school has taken these changes in its stride and has made some very positive changes to SLT and to the organisation of inclusion and SEND as a result. An inclusion team has been established with 2 members of staff sharing the SENCO role and with an administrator, who is a very experienced member of SEND support staff, playing a very important role. The former assistant Head curriculum is now an interim deputy and the recently appointed deputy is now interim Head of school. There has been a lot of succession building over the past years and excellent CPD, which has meant that the school has the capacity in its staffing to move forward in terms of inclusion, while supporting other schools in the MAT. The school has worked on anti-bullying this year, led by the Headteacher and this work on the ‘All Together’ programme will continue in the coming year led by the interim deputy. It has also worked on developing online awareness in pupils and has revamped its recording of behavioural incidents on SIMs to ensure issues can be analysed and fed into assemblies and lessons. There have also been increased opportunities for pupils to be involved in sporting competitions and all staff make a positive phone call home to parents every week.

The school has continued to develop its very motivating ‘entrepreneurial curriculum’ under the leadership of the interim deputy Head, who works with middle leaders/teachers to help plan their very creative whole school topics with themed based learning around a text and ‘Big Outcome’ celebrations, involving the whole school and parents. The current topic centres around the ‘Railway Children’/’Hey Get Off My Train’ and has included a theatre company visiting as well as the children making trains, which will go on display to add to the wonderful creative displays around the school. A tour of the school with the SENCO through all classrooms and halls once again highlighted the wonderful learning spaces that staff have created with amazing displays and reading areas, based around the exciting and creative topics. I was able to see the houses designed by children as part of the ‘Architects in School’ project, which were superb and into which the children had clearly put a lot of thought and effort. Typically, this school has made the project a whole school one and it has had a very positive impact with children writing about their designs and supporting younger children. One child with SEND was motivated by it so much that he was able to enjoy the writing aspect, which is something he isn’t normally able to do. The school has also linked with its main feeder secondary school on this project with very positive outcomes. The classrooms and other spaces including halls are as always very creative, inspirational learning spaces for children with working walls to support children’s learning. A great deal of effort is made by all staff to create this positive learning environment, including wonderful samples of topic work and writing in the school halls and this continues to be an exceptional feature of the work of staff at the school with each classroom an individual and magical place.

A visit to EYFS highlighted the positive environment that has been created here with children working individually and in groups with their support staff where appropriate. Reception here is free flow with skills based learning around play. The environment is very positive with many activities for children to engage in both inside and in the excellent outdoor area that is shared with the nursery. There are many specific activities including sensory boards, water play, a tunnel and a sand pit and on my visit children were participating happily in these. Children with SEND are able to be included with the help of support staff. The phase leader explained the lengths they go to ensure this happens and she also explained the use of the ‘Tapestry’ app to monitor what children are doing and the skills they are acquiring. This is also shared with children and parents and includes photos and videos of the children. The lessons I dropped in on in years 1,3,4 and 5 illustrated the inclusive nature of learning with children working in groups and pairs with the support of their teachers and support staff. I was also able to sit in on a ‘bucket session’ with the SALT in which 5 children with SEND and their support staff were very focused and interested in watching, listening and responding to the prompts of the SALT. As a result, they were able to sit quietly, take turns, cooperate and respond using appropriate vocabulary. During my tour, another child was working on sensory circuit activities with his TA in the new sensory circuits room, which is an excellent space enabling 14 children to participate in tailor made activities according to their needs either on a one to one basis or in a small group. Another child with ASD was doing an activity with his LSA, in a room that has been especially created for him near reception to help him to develop his learning and speech and communication skills without the distractions of the whole class. This facility has really helped the child who is able to participate in group activities, such as the bucket session, as a result of the calming impact of the provision of his own room when needed. Some of his classmates are also able to come to his room to work with him occasionally. This is another example of the very careful attention the school pays to meeting individual needs. I also visited the sensory garden, which has been planned by children for children this year and is a very calming and helpful place to be for a number of children with SEND who can experience smells, touch, taste and sounds outdoors with plants and other features in addition to the internal sensory room, which is also very beneficial for some children. In the ICT room a large group of children were working individually on various interventions, including LEXIA and Dynamo Maths. In the cookery room a group of vulnerable year 6 children were engaged in a life skills project to support their transition to secondary school. The children were preparing an afternoon tea party for their support staff to thank them for everything they have done for them while at the school. It was very special for me to be able to return to this room later in the day to attend the party and to see the children happily enjoying themselves, with two of the children being confident enough to sing to the rest. In the year 3 class children listened carefully to their teacher and worked together in groups to make their best sentences to describe emotions.

Children used excellent vocabulary as modelled by their teacher and were able to use word maps and classroom displays to support their work. In a Year 4/5 class pupils worked collaboratively on their science activity, based around the gestation of mammals, which they had researched on IPads. They were about to make a bar chart to illustrate their results and children collaborated very well, walking around to see each other’s ideas and working in groups according to the way they had decided to organise their data. In both lessons pupils were focused and actively engaged in their activities, with the help of support staff where needed. I am always struck by the very positive relationships between pupils and between staff and pupils in this school and by the excellent behaviour and collaboration of children in their groups. In all the lessons I visited children were thoroughly engaged in learning and were listening to each other with interest, discussing their ideas together and learning from each other.

The school continues to work in partnership with parents and its open door approach, means that parents are able to come into school or into the playground in the mornings or afternoons to speak to staff when they have any worries or concerns. In this way staff are also able to let parents know of any issues that might have occurred during the day. In addition, regular open sessions and workshops on issues such as phonics, reading and Maths, ensure that parents are able to support their children’s learning at home. There are also many other opportunities for parents to be engaged in the work of the school, for example, parents are also involved in their children’s topic learning and attend the wonderful ‘big outcome’ events at the end of each topic. Parents are delighted to attend these events and to see the learning and progress that pupils have made during each topic. The next big event will be the summer fair, which parents love and which is all about inclusion with a big celebration of the multi-cultural nature of the school. Parents/carers I spoke to on the day were very keen to talk about how the school has helped them and their children over the years, “The school is more supportive than ever: if one plan doesn’t work anther one is put in place. They have already started preparing me for transition because I am anxious”, “I have always been able to speak to anyone at any time. They support without judging us. There is no pressure – you can bring problems from home and they will help to sort it out”, “They have created the right environment for my child and it’s amazing. They helped us when we were moved out and now we’re back again. They go beyond expectations and that’s all the staff”, “My child is very well supported and she is very settled after only a short time. You can go forward, you are not stuck. They listen as well. You can email the Head on a Sunday and she will get back to you”, “The parents are very open and friendly as well. We laugh together. The children are very happy too”, “They make them independent and they look after them. It’s a relief for me because she is more independent at home now”, “The 1 to 1s are excellent – they are perfect – there is trust – they do a better job than me.”

Pupils are genuinely at the heart of everything the school does and they are supported, nurtured and encouraged to be independent during their time here. They are able to participate in consultation on a range of issues via the school council and the school ensures that pupils are listened to and that their suggestions are acted upon. This year the sensory garden had been created with major input from children, resulting in a beautiful space that children love. They also have input into school event planning, such as the wonderful aspirations week every summer and school policies, such as the anti-bullying policy, which has been a focus this year. Roles that pupils are able to on include the school council and playground buddies. These roles help pupils to develop their self-confidence and leadership skills. Pupils spoken to during the visit explained how they love their school and the wonderful opportunities they have here. Pupils I met on the day were as always happy, engaging, confident positive and supportive of each other. Pupils spoken to, representing all year groups, gave very positive views of their school and their learning, “I like the fund raising we did for wet play equipment and games”, “I like the display on the walls in our classrooms that help us to learn”, “Lots of people help each other”, “All the teachers show inclusion to everyone. They make us shine and go to the best of our limits”, “We have a lot of resources to help us, for example, maths resources”, “If anyone is struggling in class we have learning mats that help us with sentence starters and spellings”, “I like how the staff are really nice to the children”, “Everyone tries really hard to work together”, “I like the sensory garden”, “Whenever we hurt each other, we help each other”, “Everyone is included here – if you have a disability, colour or religion”, “If anyone is hurt everyone helps them and is kind to them”, “Assemblies help us, for example, to give respect and be safe on line.”

Teaching and support staff are valued for their skills and expertise: classroom teaching demonstrates excellent practice and teachers are continually reviewing and further developing their skills to meet the diverse needs of all children. Support staff playing a vital role in the school, leading interventions within their year groups and supporting in class. The school develops its staff extremely well and they know they are valued and listened to. Teamwork is an important feature at this school with all staff working together to support the different needs of pupil in their care. They find many ways to share ideas and good practice and they have a very positive approach to meeting diverse needs and to tackling challenging issues. This is a result of the very inclusive and inspirational leadership provided by the executive Headteacher and senior team who lead by very positive example and go out of their way to find solutions to the many issues they are faced with in terms of children’s needs. Staff are trusted by the leadership team and are given opportunities to try out new strategies and to offer suggestions that they think may work for individuals or groups. A group of teaching, support staff and SLT spoken to on the day staff were extremely positive about the school and about its supportive nature. Teachers pride themselves on their exciting and innovative curriculum, which is engaging for children and they are continually trying to enhance learning opportunities for their pupils. Support for children with SEND and challenge for more able children in mixed ability classes are a key strength here and middle leaders play an important role in the school, leading phases and subject areas and helping ensure consistency of planning and practice across the school. Support staff are also continually developing their skills and expertise. They support children on a one-to-one and small group basis and are able to focus on individual needs and ensure that targeted children move forward in their learning. Interventions take place within the classrooms where possible, such as Colourful Semantics while tried and tested interventions that have been proven to be very effective are also provided outside the classroom where appropriate, including Lego Therapy, Lexia and ‘Dynamo Maths’. This year CPD for support staff has been a high priority with fortnightly meetings with the interim deputy head proving to be extremely helpful. A group of staff I met with on the day highlighted this and the beneficial effect it has had on their teamwork, enabling excellent sharing of good practice across the team to take place. Class teachers have also noticed the positive impact this has had on the staff concerned.

The school plays a key role within the Maritime Group of schools, especially in terms of inclusion. Its Head of SEND, Safeguarding and Education stressed the excellent inclusive work of Timbercroft and the important role it plays within the trust. In particular she stressed the school’s superb quality first teaching and the excellent work of the trust’s inclusion teacher who is from Timbercroft and disseminates her excellent practice across the schools. The role of the school in the MAT is set to develop further in the coming year with the head of school and deputy running the NQT programme across the 7 schools.
Exceptional features of this school continue to include the ethos of including, listening to, challenging and supporting all children; the excellent behavior, self-confidence and positive attitudes of pupils; the motivating and challenging curriculum; the excellent teamwork and inclusive practice of teaching and support staff; the excellent partnership work with parents; the exceptional support for children with SEND; the wonderful learning environment in all classrooms, including superb displays and the overall positive, happy, supportive, family atmosphere of the school and the dissemination of its excellent practice across the MAT.

The school is continually developing its excellent practice on inclusion and is sharing its practice with a range of other schools. In particular, it is having significant impact in terms of inclusive practice within its trust of schools. I recommend that the school retains its Flagship School status and is reviewed in one year’s time. I am very happy to support the school’s action plan as outlined in the assessment commentary in the first section of this report.

Assessor: Pauline Roberts
Findings confirmed by Inclusion Quality Mark (UK) Ltd: