Staff at Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos have created a co-ordinated and systematic approach to learning. Every pupil has access to a bespoke curriculum tailored to their specific needs. The blend of teaching strategies has an extremely positive effect on pupils’ achievement and wellbeing. Diagnostic tools are used to track and monitor pupils’ progress, wellbeing and behaviour. The monitoring process demonstrates that most pupils, including those with additional learning needs, make good and often very good progress.
Information about the school
Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos is in Penparcau on the outskirts of Aberystwyth in Ceredigion. There are 259 pupils between 3 and 11 years old on roll, including 39 part-time nursery age pupils. They are divided into 13 classes, four of which are special educational needs resource base classes. The school admits pupils with specific needs from various areas across Ceredigion. Pupils in the resource base classes have a range of social, medical and communication needs. The school also has a nurture base for pupils with emotional and social difficulties and houses a key stage 2 pupil referral unit that integrates into the mainstream setting.
The average proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals over the last three years is around 31%. This is significantly above the national average of 19%. The school has identified 40% of its pupils as having additional learning needs, which is significantly above the national average of 21%.
Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos provides a caring and highly inclusive environment for all pupils to succeed through creating a strong whole-school ethos placing wellbeing at the centre of its work.
Context and background to the effective or innovative practice
The background of the school presents a number of opportunities and challenges, including a history of low baseline assessments and generally a high intake of pupils from other schools with emotional and behavioural difficulties, particularly in key stage 2.
The school addresses these challenges through a common set of shared values, which inform a co-ordinated and systemic approach to learning and a clear overall vision of success.
- intensive early intervention procedures
- a holistic / whole school approach to the curriculum
- targeting key strategic areas for the biggest overall impact
- challenging any perceptions of innate ability and ensuring the highest expectations for all pupils
Every school defines measures that demonstrate how its vision and aims are to being achieved. The priority at Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos is ensuring that all pupils are ‘in a place to learn’.
Description of nature of strategy or activity
Every pupil at Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos accesses a bespoke curriculum tailored to their specific needs.
The underlying principles of this provision are that:
- All learning is ‘context specific’ and part of a continuous evaluation process
- There is clear understanding that all assessment should be in place to support pupils’ learning
- This is a ‘needs led’ process that focuses on the ‘whole child’
The effective use of assessment in identifying the next step in a pupil’s learning is facilitated effectively. For example, subject and key stage co-ordinators meet formally every two weeks to use pupil information to plan the next step forward. Informal meetings involving all stakeholders are held on an ongoing basis and complement this process. From these discussions, in direct response to their identified needs, pupils are signposted to particular teachers, specific lessons and intervention groups. Correct understanding of pupil achievement and attainment is crucial. The school’s processes allow for an ongoing ‘tweaking’ of provision driven by a mutual understanding of each pupil’s strengths and areas for improvement. Support for pupils is modified regularly and can be adapted and refined at short notice. Specific diagnostic tools used to track and monitor pupils’ progress, wellbeing and behaviour are utilised effectively. These include:
- the informed use of teacher assessments, combined with a strong knowledge and understanding of pupils’ specific needs, including their cognitive and emotional development and appropriate background information; this reflects the importance of empathic as well as statistical driven judgements
- ongoing profiling for all pupils, which assesses social, emotional and behavioural development and measures progress through a variety of developmental strands; this information is used to create realistic child-centered profiles that can be shared and acted upon by all stakeholders to shape future nurture provision as relevant
- use of a particular tracking system piloted by Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos, that reflects all progress however minimal, and factors in the amount of time the pupil has spent at the school; this proves particularly useful given the number of latecomers accepted into both key stages on a termly basis at the school
Staff in both mainstream classes and resource bases use these holistic processes successfully and creatively to assess impact and inform future provision. This includes the effective deployment and use of staff expertise across the whole school and the flexible teaching arrangements applied throughout all classes.
- Careful monitoring of progress ensures that pupils receive additional support only for as long as is needed for them to make sufficient progress.
- It is important that all staff acknowledge a shared commitment to promoting continuous and sustainable improvements.
- It is essential that every marginal gain is noted and celebrated. Progress at the school is an accumulation of small victories that are shared and valued by all stakeholders, creating a momentum that builds on the existing culture of achievement and success.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
Monitoring processes demonstrate that most pupils, including those with additional learning needs, make good and often very good progress from their differing starting points as they move through the school. This judgement is supported by quality assurance at the school and demonstrated through tracking procedures, teachers’ assessments and national test results.
The successful blend of teaching strategies has an extremely positive effect on pupils’ achievement and wellbeing. Most pupils are confident, resilient learners with high levels of self-esteem. They enjoy school and show very positive attitudes to their learning. The direct correlation between wellbeing, progress and success is also reflected in the following ways:
- the continued closure of the gap between the performance of boys and girls in recent years
- high levels of pupil attendance on a sustained basis
- the fact that there have been no exclusions at the school for 17 consecutive years
How have you shared your good practice?
The school has shared good practice on a local, county and national level through encouraging other schools and settings to visit to observe this provision in practice. The school demonstrates to other educational providers how to link the school practice recorded in this study successfully with national wellbeing priorities, such as the ACEs initiative and ‘Attachment Awareness’. The school presents its findings to multi-agency audiences, including teaching practitioners, senior level leaders and strategic managers across Wales.