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What the inspectors saw - Good practice spotted by Ofsted

Integrating students with disabilities: St John Bosco

Integrating students with disabilities: St John Bosco

In brief

St John Bosco Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School aims to provide an environment in which all students can improve their self-esteem, including those whose circumstances may make them vulnerable.

The project

Students are taught to recognise that each person is special and different, enabling students with disabilities and complex needs to thrive in a harmonious environment.

A key feature of lessons is collaboration between students, either as "talk partners" clarifying ideas, or as team players, working together to solve problems.

Lesson plans are designed to enable students to understand the needs of others, encouraging empathy and a strong sense of right and wrong. School trips, visiting speakers, dance and drama activities and extracurricular options help students overcome barriers to learning.

Students are given extracurricular opportunities to work with children with a range of abilities and disabilities, and from varied religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

All staff contribute to extracurricular activities and sign up to courses to extend their specialist knowledge. A pastoral worker provides support for potentially vulnerable children.

"It is essential that all pupils understand our ethos of respect and consideration for others through a good grounding in PSHE and basic skills," says the school's executive head Anne Mackay (pictured left).

The school provides support for students with disabilities through dual placement partnerships with local special schools. This ensures that students meet and make friends with children from across a wide range of abilities.

"Usually, we need to work with students in mainstream settings to raise awareness of the need for sensitivity towards difference," the deputy head of Columbia Grange special school says. "However, at St John Bosco we did not need to do this as this was already established through the inclusive ethos that permeates the school."

Students who need extra support get help through intervention strategies, some involving parents and carers. For example, vulnerable and disabled students take part in "curriculum celebration days" when the children showcase their work.

Parent and carer workshops, support groups and family learning programmes help those with the greatest needs. "It's the most enjoyable experience of school I've ever had," said one parent in her evaluation of the family learning programme.

Signs of success

The school has established a caring, inclusive learning environment in which all differences are celebrated. Students strive to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, needs or abilities, can thrive and succeed. One student at a school for children with autism made such good progress through a dual placement partnership that he was able to reintegrate into full-time mainstream education.

What the inspectors said

"The school provides outstanding pastoral care characterised by strong and warm relationships between all students and adults. Pupils are taught to recognise that each person is special and different, enabling pupils with disabilities and complex needs to thrive in the schools harmonious environment. A positive classroom ethos, with a curriculum that provides bespoke support, ensures that students with disabilities and complex needs can enjoy school, succeed in their learning and take their place in the school community."

Read the full Ofsted case study report at bit.lyXTniGz


Name - St John Bosco Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School

Location - Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Age range - 3-12

Number of students - About 150

Intake - Almost all students are white British. An above-average proportion are eligible for free school meals. A below-average proportion have special educational needs andor disabilities, although a higher-than-average number have a statement of special educational needs.

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