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Our School Story:
Oatlands School

Oatlands School is a 3-form entry infant school in Weybridge. The school is located in a relatively affluent area and has low levels of pupil premium, but a growing number of children with complex SEN needs. At the school, there is also an increasing number of learners experiencing issues with regulation and having challenges accessing the curriculum. Post-pandemic, the behaviours being seen on a day-to-day basis had become more concerning and staff had begun to feel overwhelmed by the shift in culture.

 

Charlotte Clarke who works at WTAC is a member of the parent community. She introduced the school to the book when her daughter joined the school in the first cohort after the pandemic disruption. It came at an ideal time for the school, and as a values-based school, the approach really resonated. Importantly, it offered a structure that would allow Oatlands to support behaviour and hold clear boundaries without increasing use of sanctions and shame.

 

Oatlands first started with 3 simple rules and taught the children ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ in assemblies and with year groups. A recognition board was installed in every classroom and in assembly. ‘Oatlands Walking’ was something that the children introduced themselves as part of ‘Safe’ corridor walking after being positively noticed for it, and it has evolved and has really taken off. Meet and greets started taking place at the beginning of the day and some simple scripts were shared with staff. A When The Adults Change Health Check helped to improve SEN provision and helped sharpen the focus on creating consistency. Staff have also completed the online training and attended the virtual inset with Paul Dix.

 

Corridor behaviour improved almost immediately and behaviour incidences have reduced significantly. The school feels like a calmer, safer place for everyone. The switch to noticing the positive felt easy and intuitive and the majority of staff and learners adjusted naturally to the changes. Learners were really receptive to ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe’ and expectations have become much clearer to the entire school community. Oatlands are able to think differently about behaviour and have meaningful conversations about supporting learners. They have learnt to look at behaviour far more preventatively and cohesively.

 

As a school community, Oatlands has become more aware of the societal changes and issues that contribute to learners’ SEMH needs. Oatlands was delighted to pilot WTAC workshops for parents. These have been well attended and well received. The school have shared practical advice with parents and has also used the sessions as an opportunity to help them understand the new approach in school. Oatlands has really enjoyed engaging families and helping them introduce relational practice to their homes.

 

Oatlands were happy to really jump in with both feet into the approach, but it took some time to really get to grips with it. There were some really quick wins, but the school have had to work hard to extend the practice to all classrooms and create consistencies that have delivered further benefit. Some of the staff found it easier to become relational practitioners than others, for example in some instances Teaching Assistants needed a bit more support to understand the relational mindset. Some staff still struggle to understand the difference between a punishment and a consequence and Oatlands is constantly looking to understand how to best support its most complex and vulnerable learners. However, the school is reaching more and more families and is looking to think about how to establish ‘This Is How We Do It Here’ as part of the school introduction process. There are exciting times ahead for Oatlands!

 

In terms of advice for others, the Headteacher at Oatlands, Tanya Mooney, gives the following great advice:

  • Be really clear about your plan with staff and parents so that they come with you.

  • Ensure staff have ongoing CPD so they own it, and allow time for reflection and feedback.

  • Keep scripts simple.

  • Know who your experts are.

  • Model the behaviour you want to see.

Keep going… Don’t give up. It works!

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