KS2 Case study: Darley Dale Primary School, Derbyshire (Y5) and St Giles (Special) School, Derby
This mainstream-special began in 2017. The schools were keen to establish and maintain the partnership with strong commitment from the senior leadership team in both schools. St Giles were adamant that a link with a mainstream school was their preference and Darley Dale were keen to embrace the opportunity. The resulting partnership has endured staff changes, long term absences and Ofsted inspections.
St Giles combine both their key stage 2 classes together to link with the Year 5 class at Darley Dale Primary; therefore many of their children revisit the linking programme during their time in the key stage.
The very first meeting between the children at Darley Dale Primary School and St Giles School was held at Pride Park Stadium. The programme was adapted to ensure that all children could achieve and develop their skills within each activity. The Head Teacher of Darley Dale thought this adaption was particularly helpful for the children who attend Darley Dale, as this showed them a range of differing needs other children may have, even though they were of a similar age. Since that first year, we have become even more determined to plan equitable activities, allowing every child to participate and shine.
The final link day took place at St Giles’ School, where the successes of the Programme really began to stand out. Over the course of the year, the children developed empathy and understanding of similarities and differences; we saw evidence of this: when the children were playing on the playground together – many of the Darley Dale children adapted their games so that the children of St Giles could join in easily. The class teacher of Darley Dale was particularly impressed with how her children had deepened their understanding of diversity.
Both schools felt that the partnership had been successful and, as a result, wanted to host an additional activity day, such as a picnic, at a location between both schools.
A Darley Dale staff member was heard to say “This is the best thing we have ever done!”
There have been staffing changes at both schools in the intervening years. However, the new class teachers remain extremely committed to the programme
Staff report that they appreciate learning from each other across special/mainstream boundaries and incorporate their observations into their own teaching. On the visit last year, the St Giles children enjoyed teaching Darley Dale children sign language and they performed a song together, with signing, at the end of the day. There is clear awareness that children from both schools benefit from and contribute to the partnership.
The partnership is referenced in the Darley Dale Ofsted report (November 2019), illustrating how it fits in to the broader context of school life, “Teachers arrange for them to help at a local home for the elderly and to meet pupils from a special school in Derby. Staff provide many opportunities for pupils to volunteer and contribute to the school and community. Pupils learn about the importance of respecting others and to celebrate the diversity in the world. Pupils attend The Open Centre to learn about different faiths and cultures.” – the first day of the inspection coincided with a linking day at Pride Park stadium which continued as planned.
Many thanks to the children and staff at both schools for sharing their linking with us.
Contact: Yvonne Luce, Global Education Derby