Academy One of Only Six Schools to be Designated a Centre of Excellence
Walthamstow Academy’s inclusion programmes have been given a seal of approval after the Inclusion Quality Mark designated the academy a Centre of Excellence. This nationally-accredited award, which has only been given to seven schools in the country, recognises the exceptional inclusion arrangements the academy has in place. These include programmes to ensure students have a smooth transition from primary school to the academy’s Year 7 as well as the support available for students with learning difficulties.
The academy was awarded this accreditation after an assessor from Inclusion Quality Mark spent two days at the academy during which he interviewed the Principal, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and other members of the Senior Leadership Team. He also reviewed a wide range of the academy’s policies and practices and looked at the results of student and staff surveys.
The assessor praised the programmes the academy has in place to help students as they transfer from primary school into the academy. He said that, whilst the academy is not a Local Authority controlled school, it maintains ‘good links’ with the Local Authority and its feeder schools. He was particularly impressed with how the academy’s teachers work in its feeder primary schools with the incoming Year 7 students to develop their literacy skills.
He also looked at the progress made by students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and found that the gap between SEN students and their peers is reducing significantly. In 2012, 80% of SEN students achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE which was a 26% improvement from 2010.
In his report, the assessor, Tim Westrip, spoke highly of the academy’s commitment to bring out the best in every single student. He said:
‘Diversity is celebrated but every child is treated as an individual, with good account taken of that young person’s strengths, aspirations and particular needs; every child is encouraged and supported to make the most of his, or her, educational opportunities.’
To become an Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence, the academy had to demonstrate a commitment to sustain and develop its inclusive practice. Walthamstow Academy identified a number of ways in which it will enhance its practice yet further including:
• Increasing parental engagement and drawing on their knowledge and expertise to shape future inclusion systems;
• Providing appropriate careers advice for students with SEN so they continue to be successful once they have left the academy;
• Continuing to improve student voice at the academy so that all students have the platform to express their opinions on their education and school initiatives.
As an Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence, Walthamstow Academy will share its good practice with local schools and seek to serve as a role model to schools within the community.
Commenting on the academy’s commitment to develop its inclusion practice further, Mr Westrip said:
‘Walthamstow Academy is a truly inclusive institution, with a wealth of good practice which could benefit other institutions through sharing. Although inclusion practices are already at this very high level the determination to continue to move forward is also very apparent.’
Walthamstow Academy Principal Emma Skae said:
“Ensuring that each and every one of our students achieves their full potential is at the heart of everything we do at Walthamstow Academy. We believe that every student – whatever their starting point – can reach great heights and our committed and talented staff work closely with students to help them achieve everything of which they are capable.
“Our SEN Department goes above and beyond to give students with Statements an outstanding education. We believe that there is no ceiling to what our students can achieve and we were delighted to welcome our first student with a Statement into our Sixth Form last year. We hope to continue this tradition with all of our Statemented students.’
Andy Buck, Managing Director – Academies at United Learning of which Walthamstow Academy is a part, said:
“This is a well-deserved award for Walthamstow Academy. Anyone walking into the academy is always struck by the warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that greets them. As the assessor correctly said, the diversity of the academy community is a cause for celebration and every effort is made to bring out the best in every single student.”
The academy will formally receive the award at an Awards Ceremony in October.