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School: Beatrix Potter Primary School
Headteacher: Steph Neale
RRSA coordinator: Sharon Gleed-Smith
Local authority: Wandsworth
Assessors: Frances Bestley and Zoey Ayling
Date: 30th March 2017
We would like to thank the Headteacher, all the staff, and other adults and young people for their warm welcome to the school, for the opportunity to speak with parents, governors and pupils during the assessment. Prior to the assessment visit, you provided a comprehensive self-evaluation form and impact evaluation form. It was clear to the assessors during the visit that everyone places a real importance on developing a Rights Respecting ethos.
Beatrix Potter’s assessment was planned as a Level 1 assessment. Very early during the visit it was apparent to the assessors and agreed with the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team that it would be appropriate to conduct a Level 2 assessment. ‘We know we have our rights and know that they are respected,’ explained a child during the visit.
Key strengths of the school are:
Standards A, B, C and D have all been met.
REQUIREMENTS BEFORE ATTAINING LEVEL 2
MAINTAINING LEVEL 2
Our experience has shown that there are actions that have proven useful in other RRSA schools and settings in helping them to maintain and build on their practice at Level 2. Here are our recommendations for your school:
THE ASSESSMENT IN DETAIL
4.1. The school context
Beatrix Potter Primary School is situated in Wandsworth and is larger than the average sized primary school, with 426 pupils on roll. The majority of pupils who attend are of White British heritage, though the proportion of pupils of minority ethnic heritage is above the national average. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is below the national average. An average proportion of the school’s pupils are disabled or have special educational needs. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for the pupil premium is below that found nationally. A larger-than-average proportion of pupils join or leave the school other than at usual times.
In December 2014, Ofsted judged the school as good with outstanding behaviour and safety of pupils. The school holds the International Schools Award, awarded by the British Council.
Beatrix Potter Primary School registered and achieved their Recognition of Commitment for RRSA in April 2013.
4.2. Assessment information
|Self-evaluation form received||Yes|
|Impact evaluation form received||Yes|
|Attendees at SLT meeting||Headteacher, deputy headteacher (RRSA coordinator) and 5 senior staff|
|Number of children and young people interviewed||2 children as visit hosts, 20 children in the focus group, whole class discussion about rights in all year groups (8 classes)|
|Number of staff interviewed||5 parents (2 of whom are also governors), chair of governors, local authority governor, 3 teachers, head lunchtime supervisor|
|Evidence provided||Learning walk including class visits to all year groups
Portfolio of evidence including videos and written work
Rights-respecting values underpin leadership and management
Standard A has been achieved
The coordinator explained how rights respecting has become part of everyday practice at Beatrix Potter Primary School, and evidence throughout the visit supported this view. Throughout the school are posters created by staff, governors and the school council describing very powerfully what it means to be a Rights Respecting community. The headteacher acknowledged that the school had always had a good ethos and good relationships between pupils and staff, and that becoming rights respecting ‘fitted this.’ He explained that the focus on rights had provided ‘a guide with behaviour and a vehicle to focus on.’ ‘The Impact Evaluation form showed significant impact across four areas and noticeable impact against a further two. The senior leaders identified the greatest impact being on relationships: ‘A positive effect on how staff speak to children;’ ‘this gives children confidence.’ They described how this impacted on children’s personal development, particularly as active citizens and their interaction with others both inside and outside school.
The school development plan is underpinned by Article 28; outcome 3 of the plan is to be ‘A Rights Respecting school offering a broad and balanced curriculum.’ The preamble states ‘Underpinning our school values are the rights of the child. At Beatrix Potter all adults work as standard bearers for children’s rights.’ There is a consistent approach to linking policies to the Convention; evidence seen included the Digital Rights, Behaviour, Anti-Bullying, Equality and Diversity, International, Safe-guarding and Teaching and learning policies and all linked to relevant articles. The Rights Respecting agenda appears regularly on staff meeting agendas. New and supply staff receive induction folders and support from the coordinator. It was evident from speaking to the senior leadership team that RRSA was sustainable; they all played their role in embedding it and it was not seen as ‘another initiative’.
Participation and inclusion are very well established. ‘The school has always been an inclusive school where diversity is celebrated,’ stated the headteacher. ‘It’s in everything we do,’ explained another senior leader. Article 23 is often identified as a charter right, and in the school video is linked strongly with becoming independent. ‘Other children ensure new children do not tease our pupils,’ explained one of the senior leaders. The poster about being a rights respecting community states as one of its aims, ‘all achieve their full potential irrespective of background or ethnic origin.’ There are numerous opportunities provided for pupils to be involved in groups and committees – all committee members stood at one point during the assembly. Very good use is made of parents’ expertise in offering a wide range of after school clubs, including a newspaper club linked to Article 12.
Beatrix Potter participates in the Wandsworth Model United Nations Global Assembly debate, which has a strong rights focus. The school has links with the local Rights Respecting secondary school and have worked together on a refugee topic. The school supports the Wandsworth foodbank and a homeless community, and this has been linked to Articles 24 and 27. They are taking part in conservation project linked to Article 29 and are planning work with the local museum.
Global citizenship and sustainability are planned for systematically through topics and have a rights focus. The school has a Gold International Schools Award, and has held this for nine years. A teacher has responsibility as a Global Ambassador. Links with other countries are prominent in corridors. The school has close links with Expresso Learning and pupils take part in filming lesson resources and making global links with other schools around the world. The school is a Healthy Eating school and has achieved the silver School Travel Plan.
The whole school community learns about the CRC
Standard B has been achieved
All pupils we spoke to in the focus groups and class visits could confidently name a wide range of articles: right to a name and nationality, to education, to relax and play, the rights of refugees, the right to be protected from war, from sexual abuse, from drugs and from slavery, the right to information, to clean water, to health care, to privacy, and understood the universality and unconditionality of rights. ‘Rights are for children everywhere,’ stated a Y3 child. ‘We know we’ve got them and no-one can take them away,’ explained a Y5 boy. Year 4 children assuredly identified their favourite article and described why it was important for their own and other children’s lives.
Parents have been kept informed in a variety of ways; the website hosts videos and information about RRSA, half-termly newsletters, the newspaper club’s Rabbit Read, and their children talking about different articles and some homework. The parents we spoke to were very knowledgeable about the Convention and the impact the knowledge about rights had had on their children: ‘It’s made her much more thoughtful;’ ‘She ties rights in to what other people have or don’t have;’ ‘My children are talking about it, relating rights to the school and the world;’ ‘It broadens her compassion.’ Parents have received copies of the Convention. The Parent Teacher Association were actively involved in supporting Unicef’s Day for Change. Governors explained they were involved very early on and receive regular updates. Governor’s learning walks sometimes focus on RRSA.
Pupils explained that they learned about rights in assemblies, in their classrooms, through posters and displays. Reference to rights were prominent throughout the school – the hall had a rights balloons installation created by the school janitor, with each balloon created by a class and focusing on an article. Displays were consistently linked to appropriate articles, and Unicef posters and copies of the Convention are very visible. Find the Rights was used as a basis for a whole school competition. There has been a rabbit mascot design competition to make articles even more visible to younger pupils. The school has created a rights calendar which is on display (and used) in each classroom, and identifies the rights of each week broadly grouped around a theme. The calendar informs the weekly rights assembly, often presented by the large team of rights ambassadors. Children, staff and examples of pupils’ work provided evidence of planning linked to articles: persuasive writing linked to article 12, changes in hospital provision linked to article 24, Victorians linked to article 27, poetry linked to article 14, ‘Ug’ a Y3 story linked to article 12, the Great Fire of London linked to articles 27 and 19. 98% of the staff agreed that they taught about rights in lessons in the recent staff survey.
Teaching about the Convention is included within planned topics, such as the rainforest and India which promote global citizenship and sustainable development. Children are very aware of their global footprint and the school has a strong focus on challenging perceptions of other countries. One parent is involved in the Lunch Bowl project supporting Kenya, another works for Save the Children and another for Unicef so all international work is firmly grounded in real links.
The school has a rights respecting ethos
Standard C has been achieved
All classrooms had individual charters. At the beginning of each year, there is a revisiting of the Convention and children consider what rights they want to focus on in their classroom. Charters were used to support rights respecting behaviours and to learn about rights. Children explained that the charter made a difference ‘because you can actually respect the rights you’ve got,’ and ‘it reminds you that you are lucky enough to have these rights’ and ‘I don’t need to look at my charter now because I know it.’ An assembly charter has been worked on with the learning council asking teachers to model quiet behaviour.
Throughout the visit there was evidence of rights respecting behaviours and good relationships between pupils and pupils, and pupils and staff. Senior leaders explained that ‘it [rights] gives a language and a framework for discussion.’ At break, the playground areas were mixed by age, and pupils explained how they enjoyed playing with other pupils. The school has a very strong focus on learning about kindness. The younger children trust the older ones enough to confide in them when something is happening that they are upset about both within and out of school. ‘I have seen a great improvement during break times,’ explained the lunchtime supervisor. ‘We try to make sure everyone is happy,’ explained one of the older children.
Children we spoke to were very clear that ‘everyone has a right to an education,’ and described how they concentrated on their work, worked with their partners and listened to one another. One child explained how they encouraged each other. Children are involved in reviewing their learning; ‘We share our opinions about learning.’ The Learning Council has been established to strengthen this area. Within a broad and balanced curriculum children can choose what topic they wish to learn about: ‘I can pick a topic I care about.’ ‘We agree with what we’re expected to do,’ a Y6 boy explained when asked about understanding targets, and clearly felt he owned his targets.
All children who we talked to said that they felt safe in school. ‘The teachers know about the rights and how important they are. We know that they are going to protect us while we are in school.’ said one child. They were confident that they could speak to a teacher or someone that they trusted if something was going wrong. ‘If there’s a problem I know I can talk to a teacher.’
When we asked pupils how they sorted things out when there was an argument, children explained that any conflicts are treated fairly with everyone involved having a say. Peer mentors and anti-bullying ambassadors work with pupils to resolve disagreements at playtime. ‘I don’t have to talk to them now – the language of rights is used by the peer mentors and children,’ stated the lunchtime supervisor. RRSA think sheets encourage pupils to explore their actions and the impact they have had on the rights of others.
‘We’re not the only people in the world,’ explained a Y5 pupil when asked about global citizenship. Pupils were able to explain that all children have rights regardless of where they live, but may sometimes not be able to access them. They gave examples of some situations where some children do not receive their rights for example: clean water or living a long way from healthcare in some parts of Africa, in war you aren’t safe and can’t access your right to education, healthcare, shelter, if you are a refugee, if you are kidnapped, if you are in poverty. They had a good understanding that children in the UK might not always be able to access their rights and described similarities but were aware of a ‘degree of difficulty.’
Children are empowered to become active citizens and learners
Standard D has been achieved
‘We know we have a right to be heard,’ was the response to asking whether they felt they were listened to. There are a wide range of opportunities provided for pupils to be involved in decisions about school life: RRSA council, school council, learning council, travel ambassadors, peer mentors, anti-bullying ambassadors. Children who are not members of the council explained that if you wanted to change something you ‘talk to the council.’ Pupils gave examples of choosing the rights mascot, the content of Rabbit Read, changes to how teachers taught lessons and choosing playground equipment. A letter from a Y2 child to the headteacher expressed her view on the playground equipment linked to article 31.’Children are empowered to express their opinion,’ stated the Y6 teacher. A teacher new to the school acknowledged ‘very vocal children.’ During the visit it was very obvious how children confidently shared their views.
Pupils have access to information to help them make informed choices about their learning, health and wellbeing mainly through assemblies, PSHE and circle time. The school has close links with external professionals such as the school nurse, police community liaison officers and parents who work with pupils on specific topics. Visitors from the NSPCC have promoted the ‘Speak out and stay safe’ campaign and there is a strong focus on digital rights.
Children spoke very enthusiastically about the activities they had undertaken to uphold the rights of children locally and globally. ‘I have a voice, I can make a change.’ They explained during the assembly that their contributions to the foodbank had supported 300 families. The bracelets that they bought at the We Day event supported access to education and clean water. Beatrix Potter Primary School is in the top 30 of schools fundraising for Day for Change. They also support Children in Need, Comic Relief, Lunch bowl charity, and Link Ethiopia. Pupils have also been involved in campaigning through OutRight for the last three years and have written to ministers. They have written to David Cameron through Send my Friend to School. Pupils from Y6 attended We Day. Older pupils understood that governments were important to make changes. A Y5 girl wrote to Sainsburys because she was concerned that their healthy snacks were more expensive than unhealthy snacks.
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