High five for schools who are top of the class

- and the national launch of The Inclusion Expert Pupil Premium Handbook and Award of Excellence at the House of Commons

A school in Manchester that has provided shoes for children who turn up to lessons in their socks, and another in London that has managed to keep knives and threats outside the school gates – despite a thriving local gangland culture – have been given a special award at a ceremony at the House of Commons today.

The event, which took place today (Wednesday, May 21, 2014 in Committee Room 9) was a celebration of how five very different schools have embraced the notion of social inclusion to make sure that it applies to all the children in their care.

Four of the five schools used the Pupil Premium, which is additional money given to all publicly funded schools in England, to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of both primary and secondary school age.

However, Daniel Sobel, founder of Inclusion Expert and a respected educational consultant, has become increasingly concerned that many schools are not always sure how to best spend the Pupil Premium, particularly in the light of increasing scrutiny from public bodies such as Ofsted.

To address this issue, he has devised a Pupil Premium framework which can be applied to all school and colleges, and a special Award of Excellence which recognises social inclusion and celebrates achievement.

He explains:

I define a socially inclusive school or college as one where all children are allowed to thrive and encouraged to reach their potential, and where their differences are respected. The Pupil Premium is there to allow gaps in performance to be reduced and even closedThe staff at these award-winning schools are to be applauded for their commitment and dedication to making sure that every child feels valued and involved.’

The five schools took part in a pilot study to determine how they measured up against a set of criteria relating to both the Pupil Premium Handbook and the section within the UN Declaration of Rights of the Child on education, on which the Award is based.

Staff and children representing the schools were welcomed to the House of Commons by sponsoring MP Mike Kane, the MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, and presented with their certificates by triple gold 2012 Paralympian, Sophie Christiansen OBE, who has cerebral palsy. She spoke about her experiences of being included and valued at school, and how she gained confidence through meeting paralympic athletes who treated her like a normal person and even laughed at their disabilities. She said that social inclusion in schools is vital in making all children feel valued.

The five schools are:

  • Tavistock College, Devon is an example of how a school can involve all the pupils in a curriculum that suits their needs and interests; it has imaginatively ensured that gaps have been closed rapidly and all pupils can succeed. For children with additional learning and communication needs the College has developed a curriculum based around horticulture and small animal care – including Rascal the dog.
  • Valentines High School, Ilford, Essex where many pupils have additional leaning and communication needs. Through effective planning and systematic training no significant gaps exist between groups of pupils or subjects in their attainment, with religious tolerance throughout the school.
  • Newall Green Primary School, Wythenshawe, South Manchester experiences pupils with some of the highest levels of deprivation. Through processes that catch everyone, all pupil can experience the highest standards of care and enjoy success.
  • King’s School, Macclesfield, Cheshire is an independent day school and has pupils who not only achieve sustained academic success, but also experience working effectively in their own community for the wellbeing of others. Students raise funds to pay for projects both in the local community and to pay for them to work themselves in the developing world.
  • Lister Community School, Newham, London has worked tirelessly for the integration of all its pupils from wide and varied backgrounds into an inclusive and harmonious learning community within a safe and hardworking environment. It has put enormous effort into Gangline, a charity devoted to reducing the culture of gangs, an issue of significant in the locality. Youth workers support students at risk and help them to feel part of society, rather be left out.