St George’s Primary School Achieves Centre of Excellence
November 21, 2022 by Aileen Murphy
St George’s C of E Primary School in Stockport has achieved the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence status.
Make the Most of Each Opportunity
St George’s CE Primary School is a vibrant, larger than average Church of England school in the heart of Stockport, with close links to the Chester Diocese. It is sited in three separate Grade 2 listed buildings, linked by play areas for the children. It serves a mixed area of mostly private residences but with some council housing. It is a school where there is a very strong focus and emphasis on the individual child. Where children are encouraged to make the most of each opportunity they are offered, in order to gain the best from their education within the school’s Christian setting.
All of the staff employed or who volunteer at St George’s work hard with the children to help them prepare for the ever-changing world in which they live both now and, in the future, and to develop their skills to sustain life-long learning as well as strong self-belief and spirituality that is encompassed in their mission statement ‘Respect for All, Ambitious in Aspiration, and Bold in Action,’ and is enacted and modelled each and every day as part of their inclusive ethos. The broad, creative, and inclusive curriculum fosters collaboration as well as individual responsibility that not only benefits the children and their families but also the school and the local community.
St George’s provides for a number of pupils with a wide range of special needs, this continues to increase as the reputation of the school for being inclusive grows and attracts more children who require a nurturing and inclusive educational environment. The proportion of pupils who have Special Educational Needs is well above the national average at 27%, with 85 children on the school SEN register, including 11 pupils with Education and Health Care plans. One pupil, a LAC child, is currently age re-located to support their needs within an earlier chronological age group. Staff work very closely with the LA Virtual Head to ensure that their specific needs are met.
‘School of Sanctuary’
The proportion of pupils eligible for Free School Meals is 36%, which is again above national. Currently there are three Looked After Children in the school. Attainment of children entering the Foundation Stage is well below the national expectation, with the majority of pupils entering at Nursery levels. The school has five designated Safeguarding Officers and has a Pastoral and Family Support Lead who is able to offer inhouse support. The school is a ‘School of Sanctuary’ and demonstrates its inclusivity in action by welcoming more than 30 asylum seekers, offering support to their families too.
Our Assessor said it was a pleasure to undertake this assessment of St George’s CE Primary School and to experience first-hand the fantastic work that is going on throughout the school. During the day it was very clear to see how hard everyone has worked to create such a wonderful environment that stems from the ethos and leadership qualities of the Headteacher, and members of the Senior Leadership Team who have clearly played a major role in creating such a reflective and continually evolving school.
St George’s has a distinctive character, spirit and attitude which speaks of its ethos. The school has managed to create an environment which supports everybody’s wellbeing, learning and respects everyone’s rights. Underpinning this and supporting its inclusive ethos is the assumption that all children have a right to the same educational opportunities and where possible to be included in mainstream classes, being integrated, and not segregated by placing children with difficulties elsewhere. Adjustments are made so that all children can access what they need and this flexible and accommodating approach means all children can achieve and thrive. Staff are trained in inclusive pedagogy and view it as their role to teach all learners in a diverse classroom for which they should be commended and applauded.
Strong Emphasis on the Individual Child
As the Headteacher states on the school’s website, ‘We place a strong emphasis on the individual child and encourage our children to make the most of each opportunity, in order to gain the best from their education within our Christian setting. We work with the children to help them prepare for the ever-changing world in which we live, and to develop their skills in order to sustain life-long learning as well as strong self-belief and spirituality. This helps support them throughout their future’.
A statement that fits with their mission statement, ‘Respect for All, Ambitious in Aspiration, and Bold in Action.’ Both highly inclusive statements that are clearly embedded in the school’s ethos and everyday life and as the assessment unfolded were clearly demonstrated time and again by staff, pupils, and external partners who all take pride in their work in the school and their learning environment. Staff at all levels work tirelessly to provide all pupils and their families with the best possible education, care, nurture, and support to enable them to reach their full potential and have the best outcomes in life.
They see their roles in school as truly vocational and are prepared to go beyond what is expected to ensure successful outcomes. This is a very happy and successful school where all are welcome, and everyone is part of the family and there are no ‘outsiders.’ They pride themselves on valuing every child and helping them to achieve success whatever their starting point, or unique gift or talent. Staff endeavour to deliver an exciting and relevant curriculum which inspires and motivates all children.
Enhancing the pupils’ learning through teaching, visits, and visitors where appropriate that are linked to curriculum that are specifically designed to enrich their experience. They encourage children to be independent learners and thinkers, developing them as responsible members of their community. The school’s exceptionally strong partnership with parents is vitally important to it as it firmly believes that children have the best chance of success when the school and families work closely and co-operatively together.
The schedule for the day ensured that the assessor was able to speak with a variety of staff, parents, pupil’s, governors, and external partners all of whom spoke confidently and eloquently about inclusion and about their involvement with the school and how they support each other. It became apparent as the assessment unfolded that inclusion occurs naturally and is highly pervasive and ingrained in the very positive culture of the school, as is the dedication and drive of the staff to make a difference to everyone they work with.
Vibrant, warm and welcoming school
As the assessment progressed in this vibrant, warm, and welcoming school, the assessor found a genuine ambition and integrity for its pupils, their families and themselves amongst all stakeholders, including external partners revealing that what really matters most are the pupils who come first, and all receive equitable provision and support. Staff spoken to were dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled. Their sense of drive and determination to improve the outcomes for all came through extremely strongly as did their sense of being a team and part of the ‘St George’s family.’
The implementation of rigorous, but supportive and fair structures and processes supports the staff in all areas and at all levels to work strategically and collaboratively together. Inspirational and aspirational Leadership coupled with strong teamwork amongst the staff, supported by the Governing Body, the Church and external partners is at the core of relationships and their success.
They are motivated to improve themselves and to improve the lives of everyone involved with the school, so that they achieve their potential and goals. Everyone is clear about the vision and next steps for the school with excellent reflective skills and what came across very clearly is that they want the best outcome for ‘everyone’ whatever their starting points or individual need. Staff will not settle for anything but the best for the pupils, the families, the community, and themselves. It was a privilege to engage in so many wide ranging, detailed and probing discussions and conversations, with such enthusiastic, dedicated, and professional staff, pupils, governors, and external partners.
Each meeting and involved discussion were extremely useful in confirming that the school successfully addresses all elements of the IQM award. Meetings focused on the elements of the award as detailed in the school’s comprehensive and detailed audit within its SER, as well as the roles of staff, how they support each other, pupils, and families and how they engage so well, with and have such strong partnerships with external partners and parents to ensure successful outcomes for all.
Members of staff felt well supported and that they had opportunities to progress, and all felt that they were highly regarded members of the school family, who are highly invested in providing the best possible experience for everyone and this has an enormously positive effect on their peers, their pupils, and the families in the community. There is an outstanding level of support for pupils, staff, and families across the school that more than meets need and that everyone should be proud of, praised and highly commended for. This was supported by parents who were extremely supportive of the school. They felt that they are partners in their children’s education
Children Accepted For Who They Are
They were keen to stress that children are accepted for who they are, and nothing is too much for the extremely supportive staff of the school, who know their children extremely well. The virtual meeting with the Chair and Vice Chair of Governors provided valuable insight into the way that they work with each other and with the school to ensure that they support the school’s ethos and values, and extremely high aspirations for all pupils, but also provide appropriate and tangible support and challenge. It was clear from the conversation that the Governing Body is proactive, well trained, effective and has the knowledge and wide-ranging skillset to support the school and they are passionate about their work in the school and spoke very highly of the school and its staff. The conversation with pupils throughout the day and with members of the School Council was extremely positive.
They were a pleasure to talk to and were articulate and mature in the way they responded to questions. They are very proud of their school. The pupils were a credit to themselves, the school and their families and showed the remarkable relationships between each other and the staff.
The school has exceptionally strong relationships with external partners, and our Assessor was able to have discussions with representatives from a number of external partners. It was clear from the varied discussion that the school and these partners work closely and innovatively together to ensure the needs of all pupils are met. Without exception they felt that the school is extremely inclusive place for not only the pupils but staff and visitors as well and went above and beyond what they experience elsewhere to ensure that its pupils and their families are safe, looked after and receive the best education possible. Quite an accolade for the school and one that is in the Assessor’s opinion well deserved, demonstrating without doubt that the school is a highly inclusive place.