Creating a pupil support network

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Teacher supports pupil in classroom

Ensuring the level of care, support and guidance is a strong feature at Ysgol Bae Baglan. The school appreciates that not all pupils work in the same way and have created a pupil support network. This includes tailor-made support plans, flexible learning and targeted study support. The individual needs of pupils are addressed successfully and with great sensitivity. This helps them to engage positively in their learning and most make strong progress.

Number of pupils: 1512
Age range: 3-16
Date of inspection: November 2018

Information about the school

Ysgol Bae Baglan is an English-medium 3 to 16 all-age school, maintained by Neath Port Talbot local authority.  The school opened in 2016 after the amalgamation of Cwrt Sart, Glan Afan and Sandfields comprehensive schools and Traethmelyn Primary school.  There are currently 1512 pupils on roll with 1226 of secondary school age and 286 of primary age. The school hosts a resource base for over 120 pupils of secondary age with additional learning needs.

The school serves communities in and around the town of Port Talbot. Over 30% of the pupils are eligible for free school meals, which is higher than the national average of 16.4% for secondary and 18% for primary schools.  Over two-thirds of pupils live in the 20% most deprived areas of Wales.  Very few pupils receive support to learn English as an additional language or come from a minority ethnic background.  Very few pupils speak Welsh fluently.  The percentage of pupils with additional learning needs is around 26%, which is higher than the national average of 22.9%.  Currently, about 9.2% of pupils have statements of special educational needs, which is well above the national average of 2.2%.

The headteacher was appointed in January 2015 to prepare for the opening of the school in September 2016.  The senior leadership team consists of three deputy headteachers, three heads of school, a business manager and an additional learning needs coordinator.  They have been in post since September 2016.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Bringing four very diverse schools together into a brand new all-age setting was challenging.  It was recognised that high quality, seamless support and wellbeing for all pupils was required, but especially for those with additional learning needs.  Prior to amalgamation, the schools contributed to over 40% of all exclusions within the authority.  The school creates a learning environment where every pupil feels valued for their contribution; whether that be gaining an A* at GCSE or an entry-level qualification, leading the pupil leadership team or paying for their own purchases in a shop. The philosophy and work practice stems from the fundamental belief that every pupil can make a valued contribution, in all aspects of their lives, be it their social, civil and educational development.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The school appreciates that not all pupils work in the same way.  Pupils may need small classes, may need support to help with their anger issues, or need the practical resources necessary to access the curriculum. The wide-ranging pupil support network includes developing bespoke programmes and flexible curriculum pathways through to targeted study support, behavioural scaffolding and emotional literacy support.

The staff know their pupils well through the collaborative use of pastoral notes across electronic devices that hold all information regarding interventions, support and bespoke programmes.  The school are updates information regularly to ensure a full and detailed picture of pupil progress.

A weekly pupil panel discusses the needs of vulnerable pupils to signpost the most appropriate interventions.  The school offers a ‘Bae’ inclusion unit supporting pupils with attendance, engagement and self-esteem as well as life skills, ELSA support and a specific study skills base.  The tailor made support plans for each pupil with a capability to adapt, review and modify support on a daily and even hourly basis is a strength of this provision.  This whole school approach involves specialised staff, the wider school community, governors and outside agencies in each pupil’s journey of support.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

The quality of care, support and guidance is a strong feature of the school.  Pupils receive a comprehensive programme of support.  The tailored interventions address the needs of individual pupils very successfully and with great sensitivity.  This helps them to engage positively in their learning and most make strong progress.  Across the school, many pupils with additional learning needs make strong progress against their targets and by the end of key stage 4, many of these pupils make exceptional progress.

Attendance has increased and now compares well with that of similar schools. There has been a 70% reduction in persistent absence.  The proportion of pupils not entering education, employment or training has reduced significantly.

Fixed term exclusions have reduced since amalgamation as pupils become better known and support processes are evaluated and reviewed.  Most pupils, when questioned, feel safe and supported in school and feel that the school has a clear understanding of individuals’ needs.

How have you shared your good practice?

Practice has been shared in various forums including:

  • Presentations at the All Wales All Age Forum
  • Discussions with family of school group members
  • Hosting visits from schools across Wales