We are delighted to announce that, following an assessment by the Inclusion Quality Mark team, Darton Academy has been awarded “Centre of Excellence” status.  Becoming a Centre of Excellence is an opportunity for schools to build on the success of being one of the very special schools which holds the Inclusion Quality Mark award. A Centre of Excellence brings schools together to share and build on their existing good practice in inclusion best practice.

Extracts from our evaluation report can be found below:

“The inclusive ethos of the school was fantastic. Speaking to individuals from all areas of the school, including Senior Leaders, governors, teachers and non-teaching colleagues, all spoke confidently of the school’s ethos to be ambitious for all young people and to break down any barriers that may get in an individual child’s way of doing this. The Delta Trust vision of ‘changing lives’ was very clearly promoted as was their vision to change educational outcomes for young people in the North of England. The Principal spoke of being ‘ambitious’ in the curriculum for all young people, not limiting the subjects that children can choose, the Vice Principal talked of giving all students opportunities and not leaving any child behind, LSAs talked about ‘giving opportunities’, the Assistant Principal talked about ‘changing lives’ and students talked about ‘giving us all opportunities’. What was so pleasing in this was to see the variety of language being used to describe this core ethos; demonstrating that this is at the heart of what Darton Academy does, not simply being a script for students and staff to learn and recite.”

“The school has made significant progress in 2019 (last year of externally assessed examination results), significantly improving outcomes and therefore opportunities for young people (going from -0.46 P8 in 2018 to +0.37 in 2019). Additionally, there has been a significant improvement in progress for disadvantaged students (from -0.69 in 2018 to +0.04 in 2019) and those with an EHCP (from -0.12 in 2018 to +0.32 in 2019).  Both of these are significantly above National Average and show the excellent work that has happened to improve the outcomes for these young people.”

“In addition to the above improvement in outcomes, the school has also successfully integrated a ‘nurture’ provision back into the mainstream school. This historical provision means that there is a high proportion of students within the school with an EHCP, however this inclusive approach to integrate students with higher level needs into the main school provision has been very successful thus far and shows a really inclusive whole-school approach rather than segregating these learners into a separate part of the school facility.”

“It was particularly pleasing to see the enhanced provision that Darton Academy provided within their setting, through the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC) and the Bridge. These two environments were very supportive and encapsulated the inclusive approach of the school, supporting those with a barrier to their learning, to succeed. The PLC was used effectively to ensure that new students or those that had previously had periods of time outside of school were integrated back into the mainstream provision in a gradual way, ensuring a higher likelihood of success. Students would increase their time then in mainstream lessons, to ensure that there were no students permanently within this part of the school’s provision. Again, this encapsulated the inclusive nature of the school, providing the individualised support that these young people needed to succeed, whilst ensuring that they were not limiting their aspirations or ambitions by withholding access to subject specialist teaching. The PLC was supported by a qualified teacher, in the role of PLC Manager, again underlining the importance of this provision.”

“The Bridge was used, also effectively, to allow students time out of the classroom to provide individual support around mental health, where necessary. What was clear with this, as with the provision in the PLC, was that both were targeted very well, rather than a scatter gun approach of young people attending. Those students who needed regular access to the Bridge had ‘Bridge Passes’, allowing them to access as needed.  Other interventions within the facility were based around needs. Leaders analysed CPOMS data regularly to plan targeted interventions for these students, whether on a group or 1:1 basis. Additionally, the school had access to a range of interventions delivered in school to students via Fortis, including on-site Art Therapy.”

“Finally, it is important, when summarising the inclusive nature of the school, to focus on its positive rewards-driven approach. In all classrooms there were prominent ‘Tri-Star” displays. Within the main atrium of the school, there was a large screen constantly displaying the positive achievements of both individual students but also groups and classes. The Principal’s Wonder Wall again highlighted the focus on positivity and praise from the very top of the school and the students spoke highly of this recognition.  Assemblies focused on positivity, handing out the Tri-Star awards as well as ‘Hegarty Heroes’ and encouraging friendly competition between forms. Whilst praise in itself is a very positive approach for schools to use with young people, it was the way in which each child could be recognised for their own individual achievements that meant it was not just the academically most capable that received recognition, but those who tried hard as well.”

We are currently working towards a number of other nationally recognized awards and will keep you updated with our progress.  Further details can be found here.