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Kessingland Primary Academy retains Centre of Excellence status

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In a recent review inspection, both children and leaders are seen to be thriving. It highlights that ‘At the heart of Kessingland Church of England Primary there is significant work put into considering the whole child. There are a high number of recognised Young Carers within the school community and the school has worked diligently with families and children to recognise the efforts of the child.’

Ms Shirley Young, IQM Assessor said: “I continue to be firmly of the opinion that the school fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark to maintain its status as a Centre of Excellence. I therefore recommend that the school retains its Centre of Excellence status and is reviewed again in 12 months.”

Headteacher, Mr Adrian Crossland, said: “I am extremely proud of our wonderful school community.  Everyone works extremely hard to create the inclusive, nurturing ethos that this award has recognised and we continue to seek ways of best supporting all our young people and their families.”

Oliver Burwood CEO of DNEAT said: “The awarding of the centre of excellence status is a fantastic achievement. It reflects the work of this skilled and dedicated staff who are relentless in their efforts to make this a truly inclusive school. Everyone in our Trust are proud of Adrian and his team. Other schools within DNEAT gain an awful lot by visiting and working with the school on this vital area.”

Kessingland Church of England Primary has worked hard on initiatives to address issues that are wider than the school. For example, a Reading Cafe, workshops for parents on managing difficult behaviours, an ‘Ease the squeeze’ initiative with the Local Authority (LA) supporting parents manage finances. The team has achieved a reduction in suspensions through knowing the individual children, accessing the right support for them, and identifying the right support for the child.

Class Dojo is used to support communication. Every single child is allocated two house points per day for each am/pm. A child can move between areas and get back to green and still achieve their recognition point. There are supportive conversations with children and parents regarding taking responsibility for their own behaviours. There are now age-appropriate definitions to support understanding of their behaviours.

Much of this has developed from the growing use of the Thrive initiative. Thrive training was delivered to all staff, including Governors and a parent. The leaders have worked hard to change the mindset of staff to ensure they understand opportunities to coach and model or support children to regulate their own emotions. A greater use of time out to enable a child time to reflect in their behaviours. Language has been a focus of training. There has also been lots of modelling with a constant focus on building relationships.

The Pastoral leader is a fully qualified Thrive practitioner and is a core part of the ethos that is now being threaded through school policy and intervention. There is plans to bring in an additional trained Thrive practitioner. Thrive has provided a new way to approach and communicate with children. There is an ethos that educates children into understanding their own behaviours. There is also supporting resources threaded through the school displays which enforce the use of the strategies and raises the profile with all stakeholders of the use of the Thrive initiative. Some of the Thrive target areas are also threaded into the Skills for Life programme. Termly meetings with each class teacher are used to look at the whole class action plan. The emerging group are then withdrawn for group work with the Thrive practitioner. Others are also identified for 1:1 support.

A Class based session for Thrive is now woven through various aspects of the curriculum. Re-fresher training for Thrive is planned again for the start of the new academic year. Different areas in the school are allocated to sensory and therapeutic areas including tents, wigwams, and special places for children to use for calming and time out areas.

The Thrive practitioner has also delivered some family Thrive workshops. Capacity continues to challenge this, and this is also a next step for the school to be able to develop as additional professionals come on board.

Staff say that the impact of Thrive has seen a reduction in behaviour issues. The staff and children have access to a wider set of strategies to understand and respond to behaviours. Staff have a consistent language to use, and children are continuing to grow in their ability to understand and regulate their own behaviours.

Staff are growing in their confidence; they identify that this has occurred because of modelling from the Thrive practitioner. Children can be educated in a more understanding and empathetic way, because of a recognition of how others are feeling. Children now know how to indicate that their own emotions are not good and know how to solve it.

Middle leaders have all had opportunities to grow. Including opportunities to complete their NPQSL. The school was selected to be part of a Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) pilot, this enabled them to access an allocated SALT for a period. The project included audits of the current provision and staff skill set.

This resulted in a clear vision of the strengths and areas for development for them moving forward. Staff can now screen children from the age of 3 that may require SALT intervention, which can also now be delivered in house. Next steps will include being able to shadow the SENCo with a view to being able to take time to consider whether this is a future career pathway. Another middle leader has worked as a Maths lead. This has included networking opportunities, and there has been an opportunity for the sharing of the best practice which is already in place at Kessingland. A Maths surgery for the next academic year is planned so that there is an opportunity to further develop the excellence within.

A third example of middle leader development is demonstrated through the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and English lead. Lots of transition work is currently ongoing to ensure the needs of every individual child are known and planned for prior to the transition occurring. There are opportunities for lots of strategies to be shared with staff to ensure there is consistent practice across the transition. Regularly planned meetings ensure there are conversations with each child as well as whole class impact. Other opportunities have been Joint learning walks and presentations to the FGB. A Governor is linked to every subject as part of Governor monitoring and leaders are required to present to Governors, which must always include an update on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) children in their subject area.

The school has an experienced set of Governors. Several of whom come with an educational background. Two parent Governors are also now represented on the Governing body. They are a very active Governing body and attend as many activities as possible. One also attends the school council meetings. The school learning environment is especially impressive as you walk around Kessingland school. The displays are vibrant, colourful, and often 3D. There is a consistent approach to them which runs from the nursery provision right the way through to Year 6. Many of the displays are interactive and children have worked alongside adults to create some specialist pieces. There are consistent reminders of the Thrive initiative through photographic evidence. Consistent use of the three roadways behaviour system and wherever books are displayed there is a highly noticeable balance of cultures, equalities and topics relating to acceptance that can be seen Assessor’s Evaluation for the IQM CoE Award © Inclusion Quality Mark (UK) Ltd 2022/2023 throughout the school community.

There are also prolific examples of spaces allocated to specific needs which are enabling children to be successful in the environment. The student council meeting is held in the local parish council rooms and attended by the chair of the council and other council members. The meeting is chaired by a child who is supported by a vice-chair and the meeting is attended by children in Year 3 to Year 6. The format of the meeting follows a standard and traditional format, including the use of gavel, agenda and approving of the previous minutes. Joint venture initiatives have included council members supporting school trips, school children being involved in the church fête. Future initiatives will include pumpkin carving, with the parish council providing the pumpkins. An observation of this in practice demonstrated a beautiful example of children working directly alongside community leaders. Leaders have opened several channels of communication to connect them with the local community. The Headteacher writes regular bulletins in the Parish council magazine, Self-perpetuating growth of positive public relation promotion which comes from the community within. The school leaders have also established local community links with ‘Africa live.’ The school visits regularly and whenever they need to.

The Parish council have donated an annual £5,000 to support school trips. The community is growing in its cohesion. The local Reverend provides a vital link between the church and the school. Leaders and the Reverend carefully planned the collaborative journey to improve relationships and the community strength. This focussed on a slow building of relationship. The Covid pandemic provided a challenge for this. However now Reverend Mandy has a plethora of community links that ensure there is a network. Multiple pathways cross to ensure relationships are not isolated, but also ensuring there was a tied-up approach to support. Rebuilding the community in the post covid period has seen initiatives such as a whole-school Christingle, which ensured every child had their own Christingle. Jubilee celebrations and harvest festivals. Children also attend the local memorial service as part of remembrance, which is zoomed back into the school for all children to be a part of. The Raise the Roof project was a church project that the school has supported and been involved in. Children are fully immersed in the promotion of the project and create a Newsround style new bulletin to give regular updates on the project.

A Christmas and Easter card initiative goes to every household, including the assisted living accommodation and the residential homes in the village. Children in the school have a competition to design the card, various groups within the local community then take a portion of the cards and an area to deliver the cards. Leaders have embraced creative responses to several issues that previously caused the school to be less successful. Including finance, staff employment and reputation. Through creative access to grants, increasing links with community as well as charity networks and opportunities for local people to begin as volunteers and then gain access to career routes, there is a growth of recognition and a promotion of positivity. As a result, this community is now thriving. The environment is well resourced, calm, and purposeful. The adults are empowered and confident in their work. The children are happy and can be seen purposefully working towards their own goals and commonly agreed goals.

The Inclusion Quality Mark Award provides UK schools with a nationally recognised validation of their inclusive practice and ongoing commitment to developing educational inclusion.

There are three award levels, beginning with the IQM Inclusive School Award. Two higher award levels are available to schools that continue to grow and develop their practice in conjunction with other like-minded schools – IQM Centre of Excellence Award and IQM Flagship School Award