School encourages caring and inclusive learning environment

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Teacher uses sign language with Pupil

Pupils at Cogan Primary School benefit from a positive learning environment. It helps pupils to feel secure and enhances their learning. The school provides specific help to pupils with hearing difficulties, and encourage pupils and staff to use signing and other visual communication tools on a daily basis. The school celebrates diversity and inclusion by giving pupils the opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions.


Number of pupils: 206
Age range: 4-11
Date of inspection: May 2018

Information about the school

Cogan Primary School is in the Cogan area of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan local authority. There are 206 pupils on roll between 4 and 11 years of age, organised into seven classes. The school also has a hearing resource base for children from the local authority. There are currently six children registered in this class.

On average over the last three years, just over 11% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. This is below the Wales average of 19%. The school identifies 18% of its pupils as having special educational needs.  This includes those in mainstream classes and in the hearing resource base. This is just below the Wales average of 21%. A very few pupils have statements of special educational needs.

Most pupils are white British and speak English at home. A few pupils come from a minority ethnic background and many of these pupils speak English as an additional language. A very few speak Welsh at home.

The headteacher took up her post in 2014. The school’s last inspection was in May 2018.

Cogan Primary School has established a proportionate and an effective environment of professional learning and reflective practice. An established staff are led by a highly skilled headteacher who has created an ethos based on trust. As a result, the leadership structure has significantly shaped the care, support and guidance and given all staff the confidence to innovate and share practice that continues to impact on better learning opportunities for pupils and staff. Each member of staff has a significant voice in shaping the curriculum and their contributions are listened to and valued.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Over an extended period of time, the headteacher has developed an inclusive culture and vision that enables pupils, teachers and support assistants to work together to improve standards and wellbeing. Through clear lines of communication and awareness-raising, she has secured the commitment of all leaders and staff. This has resulted in a shared sense of pride and purpose. The headteacher and leaders have clear yet reasonable expectations of everyone to work hard and do their best. There is a real sense of teamwork and togetherness where everyone has a voice, is listened to and is valued.

Leaders are open to new initiatives and innovation, but their approach is measured and sensible. The headteacher fosters positive attitudes and excitement to try out new things, not necessarily taking them on wholesale, but tailoring them to use the ‘best bits’, the elements that are likely to work for Cogan Primary School. Leaders and staff research new approaches thoroughly and adapt them to meet the needs of the pupils and the school. Decisions about changes are balanced and measured, and the leadership team is not afraid to say no to changes that they do not consider to be appropriate.

The school has a well-established and highly effective culture of strategic planning for improvement. Priorities for improvement are manageable, proportionate and sustainable. There is a sharp focus, which draws from a highly experienced and expert staff. The headteacher deploys staff well to promote the best learning opportunities, often using strengths from within and outside the school to share effective practice.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

Leaders reflect on their own leadership and the leadership and professional practice of others in the school. The headteacher adopts different leadership styles as appropriate, developing, empowering and sustaining effective teams. The existing staffing structure is clear and effective and provides the capacity for staff to be creative and innovative. The workload is manageable.  The headteacher recognises the need to make balanced changes and inspires, motivates and challenges others, for example to improve standards of pupils further in Year 3. Leaders identified that the transition between the foundation phase and Year 3 needed a new approach. Leaders supported the relevant staff to make innovative changes to bring the philosophies and practice of the foundation phase into Year 3. The restructuring of the planning, deployment of staff, provision and methodologies re-invigorated teaching and learning for these pupils and their teacher. Focused group teaching embraced foundation phase principles and re-energised the learning environment. As a result, standards, wellbeing and confidence improved over a short period of time and there is a smoother and more extended transition into key stage 2.  

In the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, leaders have established a new approach to improve classroom practice. For example, through research, leaders enable teachers to re-focus their teaching by placing a greater emphasis on the learning and the progress of specific learners during lesson observations.

The headteacher develops trust between staff and supports them in leading a culture that manages emotions and performance under pressure. Excellent communication is key to establishing trust and togetherness. Leaders have established a process that supports experienced teachers and support assistants so that they can focus more on the learner and the learning experience.  Leaders provide teachers with opportunities to reflect on innovative practice, which has accelerated pupils’ learning. This practice reflects upon own leadership and the leadership and professional practice of others in school. For example, teachers in phases collaborate to plan a series of lessons. Leaders expect staff to share their teaching methodologies and pedagogical practices with each other. This brings about mutual trust and openness to share teaching techniques, trial new approaches and feed back to one another in an open and honest way. Leaders place a strong emphasis on recognising and celebrating good practice in learning across the school. 

There are clear and effective performance management systems. Leaders address any identified underperformance robustly and in a supportive way. The headteacher fosters an open, fair and equitable culture amongst staff to share experiences, celebrate successes and unpick what does not work.

There is a clear relationship between continuous professional development and sustained school improvement. Leaders ensure collaboration and networks with others within and beyond school. The school identifies and plans purposeful training opportunities, closely linking them to whole-school priorities. Staff make effective use of action research to try out different ways of doing things. Leaders have developed the learning buddy initiative, which provides opportunities for pupils to share their work with adjacent year groups and discuss their enjoyment for learning. For example, all pupils throughout the school have dedicated time to share favourite learning outcomes with a partner from another class. Discussions about what they found challenging, what they did to get better and what they are proud of take place every half term. Leaders, teachers and support teaching assistants join in pupils’ discussions and this provides an efficient source of informal monitoring and an opportunity to celebrate success as well as reflecting on what could be better.

The headteacher works effectively with the governing body to fulfil the school’s mission. Leaders place great emphasis on building the whole team, recognising strengths and using them to benefit learning and teaching. Leaders consider roles carefully and responsibilities are shared. The headteacher values all input and guides further actions.

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

The school’s practice of valuing leadership has positively impacted on:

  • teacher research that develops innovative practice while maintaining high quality learning experiences for pupils
  • confident pupils who achieve good or better standards
  • a shared professional learning culture where everyone is listened to and valued
  • a climate based on mutual respect, openness and trust
  • a sense of togetherness and sustainability

How have you shared your good practice?

The school shares its strong leadership and strategic planning processes with other schools through Pathfinder, School Improvement Group, cluster groups and schools in other consortia. In addition, it shares developing and working with others on the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) training programme.

Link: http://www.coganprimary.ik.org/