Cambois Primary School puts positive relational practice at the heart of its school. It is truly embedded in its ethos and is embraced by its staff and felt by visitors to the school. It hasn’t always felt like this though. Before relational practice was adopted there were a lot of inconsistencies. Adults made the rules and things happened because they always happened that way. There was low attainment across the school and a lot of undiagnosed and unsupported SEND. Low-level behaviours and in some cases, extreme behaviours were starting to prevail. A ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted rating in 2017 provided much-needed impetus for change.
Cambois Primary School wanted to raise expectations for everyone; staff, pupils, families and the community. There was no more room for low expectations. The school landscape was transformed. Trauma-informed practice, centring around relationships was brought to the forefront. It wasn’t an overnight transformation. It took Cambois nearly five years to get there and there is still more the school would like to do.
In 2018 every staff member was bought a copy of ‘When The Adults Change…’ and CPD focused on the content of the book. The WTAC approach is a key driver for the school and all new staff receive the book and do the online training.
Positive behaviour was promoted with things like ‘praise postcards’, ‘star in a jar’, celebration assemblies and postcards and calls home. Culture and inclusion were a real focus, with an emphasis on how to support pupils with SEND, particularly those with neurodiversity. A lot of work was done to diminish stereotypes and create a family-feel ethos centred around inclusivity and children being able to express and be themselves.
The physical environment of the school has been transformed to make it more welcoming and there is even a school therapy dog. All classrooms and areas were converted in a sensitive and welcoming way and the school has a separate self-regulating space that pupils can access if they need to; a quiet space that offers sensory aids, a blackout tent, headphones and a happiness box.
In 2022 the school began focusing on trauma-based practice and changed their behaviour policy to a relationship policy. Staff really model the behaviour they want to see, with visible consistencies everywhere. The school fully understands that all behaviour is a means of communication and of expressing emotion. ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you expect’ is a poignant line in the relationship policy.
Staff use a script to help them with difficult conversations, helping offer consistency and clarity. They use a stepped support plan with plenty of take-up time.
The school is in a great place now and is a beacon of inclusivity. It has been recognised as one of the most inclusive mainstream schools in England, with 40% of its pupils having an EHCP (3.4% is the national average). The school has doubled in size, from having falling roll numbers to becoming oversubscribed. Families want to send their children to Cambois Primary School, and, importantly, children want to attend! Cambois Primary School are delighted to be recognised as a When The Adults Change Partner School as they continue on their journey. They have a lot of good practice to share and the drive to continue to improve and inspire.