Looking through St. Andrew’s policies on pupil premiums, special needs and behavior, it is clear that this school finds it important that each child is given an equal opportunity, regardless of social class, disabilities or anything else. St. Andrew’s is a very diverse school. In my classroom alone, out of 20 students, there are four girls from Poland and one student from the Philippines. All of these students have learned English as a second language, although they do speak very fluently and therefore there is no language barrier. This is a similar pattern throughout the school. There are also students that have learning disabilities or need special attention. These students get a little more one on one attention from the teacher, and especially the teaching assistant. From the first day that I was in the classroom, I was immediately told about Rocco, who has some behavior problems and struggles with his attention, and Gaia, who is dyslexic and needs additional support on some of her work. Since one of the first things that I was told about were these two students, I could see how important it is to the school to ensure that every person has an equal opportunity to learn and that their needs are being met, rather than having their behavior or intellectual disabilities holding them back.
I’ve also noticed this past week that Dagmara has been give a white piece of paper that she keeps with me. Dagmara is one of the four students from Poland, however, she struggles the most with speaking English. While she can speak fluently, sometimes in class, she struggles to keep up with what Mr. Barry is saying because she must translate everything into Polish in her head. When this happens, Mr. Barry set up a system in which she can just hold up the white piece of paper and he will slow down or go over what he just spoke about. This is a subtle way for her to get the help that she needs, without the rest of the class knowing that she does not understand.
It is very clear throughout all of the policies that St. Andrew’s has that if a student requires extra help and has needs, the school will provide for his or her needs. There are many qualified teachers and teaching assistants that will do their best to give every child the help that they need. However, if the staff at the school is not meeting a student’s needs, it is their policy to reach outside the school and bring in additional support.
The school also very actively promotes respect and tolerance for others. In each classroom there is a list of “Golden Rules” stating things like “we are kind and helpful to others” and “we don’t hurt others”. This is hung in the front of every classroom where each student is able to see and discussed with every class from day one. When students are not being respectful and are misbehaving or being intolerant, there is a list of disciplines that are carried out. It begins with a warning, but if the student continues this behavior, eventually they are sent to the head teacher and the parents are spoken to. I have seen students that are constantly misbehaving in class and being disrespectful to either Mr. Barry or other students. When this comes up on a regular basis, Mr. Barry has met with the students’ parents after school to discuss the matter with the parent, student and himself.
Since the school is so diverse and all the students have been going to school together with the same group of students since the Foundation Stage, I have not noticed any instance in which the school had to deal with sexism, racism or other forms of discriminating behavior. The school promotes equal opportunities for each individual and is very good about making each child feel welcome. Since St. Andrew’s is such a small school and one in which every student and teacher knows each other, it is much more open and welcoming and therefore students tend to get along with each other much better.