Case Study 37, November 2003

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The Upward Incline to School Improvement.

This is the first Case Study of four during the 2003-04 session. Glebe School's focus throughout its Case Study is quite simply the challenge of overall Improvement. However, it also looks closely at two of the themes suggested in our call for volunteer schools to share their experiences in developing their ethos and the attainment of their pupils. After a difficult period of being 'found wanting' by others and themselves, Glebe committed itself to the Pursuit of Equity as a means to enhancing the inclusion and achievement of all pupils, and also to the Development of Positive Interpersonal Relationships among all parties within the school's community. Hard work has paid dividends - the feeling of improved confidence is almost tangible within the school. They now feel ready for an even greater challenge, planning a move in a few years from their quiet rural site in Scone to a city centre campus site shared with Perth Academy.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Contact for this Case Study
Glebe School
HT: Coral Bell
Abbey Road
Scone PH2 6LW
Tel: 01738 551493
Email: headteacher@glebe.pkc.sch.uk


Introduction
Glebe School is a secondary special school in beautiful grounds in Scone village on the outskirts of Perth (See Picture A, taken at our sports day). Built in the mid 1960s for young people with learning difficulties, the school is now developing an educational provision for young people, appropriate to a diverse and wide range of educational, physical and social and emotional needs. There are currently forty pupils on the roll and seven classes. Five classes have pupils with moderate to severe learning needs and are age and stage appropriate. The other two classes cater for pupil with severe and complex needs and for pupils with autism. The school is quite unusual – an Education Authority day school with a residence that offers young people an opportunity to extend their independence and social skills beyond the school day.

Taking the school forward
Following an HMIE inspection last year, the school has a substantial agenda of improvement to undertake. Earlier this year a new Acting Head Teacher came into post to work with the whole school community to take forward the action plan. Underpinning this plan is the development of positive staff relationships and team working in order to raise the achievement and attainment of all pupils. Relationships between staff and pupils have always been very good and this has formed the heart of the school’s work. We see ourselves very much as a team and have worked hard on this to enable shared understandings, policies, guidelines and protocols to be discussed and developed. The vision for the school has been articulated and debated. (See Picture B for the summary statement).The Senior Management Team has developed an agreed approach to this vision and its members have focussed their work accordingly. Staff members know that they are supported by senior managers and this has given them confidence in their work. Their efforts have been noticed and their creativity allowed opportunities for expression. They are now working together in a range of different teams for planning and curriculum work.

Creating a positive physical environment
While positive interpersonal relationships at all levels form the basis of good work in schools, we are aware that physical surroundings can also have an enormous impact for better or worse on the ethos and work of any organisation. Therefore a great deal of idea-sharing and planning, followed by much space reallocation, redecoration and re-equipping, has resulted in a bright, attractive, functionally effective and colourful school (See Picture C, our refurbished Home Economics room). Pupils’ curriculum work and displays of their activities are displayed throughout the school.

We have allocated and refurbished rooms for subjects and resources and visiting specialists. Just two examples of the refurbishment are a sensory room developed through staff's and parents' collaboration over the last two sessions and a more recent ‘Safe Space’ area. The sensory room is available to all pupils to support them in a number of ways, both relaxing and stimulating. The Safe Space enables us to support pupils through play and to let them feel safe and secure even when they are going through a troubled period. They can choose to go there if they are upset and need a ‘time out’. It is also used by our visiting physiotherapists as it is padded with a soft mattress and a small ball swamp to encourage play and develop motor skills.

The physical changes have been brought about by the support and endeavour of a wide range of people both within and outwith the school. Centrally based Education Authority staff in a range of departments have joined the school team. It is this teamwork and people ‘pulling out all the stops’ that has led to the relatively swift physical transformation of the school. At times the renovation tasks may have seemed a little daunting but the goals and focus were maintained. These physical changes are the positive ‘outer cover’ for the changes that have gone on within the school and its community at a range of levels – all to benefit the pupils primarily, but also to send a clear message to staff and parents that they too are valued.

 

 

Picture A: We have spacious grounds but the school previously felt socially isolated.

 

 

Summary Vision Statement
Glebe School aspires to provide a safe, happy learning environment where individual needs are uniquely catered for in the context of educational, social, recreational and residential experiences. The school community aspires to create a culture of mutual respect and collective responsibility to ensure that all pupils have relevant opportunities to prepare them to take their place as citizens in their communities.

Picture B

 

 

 

 

Picture C: We will be moving to a purpose built new school in three years but our EA has refurbished the present accommodation in line with our ideas to optimise the environment for current pupils and staff.
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