Allenvale School and Ashgrove School – Inclusive satellite provision
As the first year of Allenvale’s satellite provision at Ashgrove School draws to a close, both principals agree there is nothing they would change. The satellite provision provided education for eight students in 2017, and this will increase to sixteen in 2018 and subsequent years. While both Christine Chadwick (principal of Ashgrove School) and Graeme Daniel (principal of Allenvale School) agree that there are opportunities for further development, their strong shared vision has resulted in inclusive provision with benefits for students from both schools.
One unique feature of Allenvale’s new satellite provision was the school’s close involvement with the Ministry of Education to agree upon the location of that provision. Allenvale was able to visit a number of schools in the North Canterbury area, in order to understand site layout and cultural fit. In Ashgrove, Allenvale identified a partner school which shared its vision of how its students could be seamlessly integrated into wider school life. Allenvale’s school vision is “towards community inclusion”, and principal Graeme Daniel says “belonging is one of our school values, and our students experience that here.”
Allenvale’s satellite provision formed part of a partial redevelopment of Ashgrove School, with the satellite spaces located at the end of a wing of learning spaces. One of the learning spaces is physically connected via sliding internal glass doors to the neighbouring Ashgrove learning space. Allenvale students often invite Ashgrove students to join them in the fenced recreation area that overlooks the shared central courtyard. This physically integrated location is a strong visual indicator of the inclusive culture the two schools are building.
Best of both worlds
Satellite provision can offer students the best of both worlds, enabling them to learn alongside their peers in the communities in which they live, while still receiving programmes which meet their special learning needs. At Ashgrove and Allenvale, this inclusive model of provision sees students participating fully in the day-to-day life of the school, including events such as sports days, cultural celebrations, and assemblies.
Allenvale students wear the Ashgrove uniform, and are members of school houses along with the rest of Ashgrove students. The schools share most of their break times, and students from both schools interact freely and positively on the school grounds. At Ashgrove, each of the younger groups of students is assigned a buddy class, and students in the Allenvale provision also have a buddy class where students support Allenvale students as required.
Achievement is also celebrated together, with students from Allenvale receiving certificates during Ashgrove assemblies. When Ashgrove celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, students from both schools grouped together on the field to form a huge ‘50’.
A "win win"
An often overlooked feature of satellite provision is that it also provides benefits for the host school. Christine says that her first reaction when she heard about the possible satellite provision was that “it was an exciting opportunity to get involved, and it was exciting to think about the opportunities for our students.” She explains that population re-distribution in greater Christchurch has contributed to an increasingly multicultural and diverse student roll at Ashgrove. She views Allenvale’s presence on site as “another opportunity for our students to be exposed to the diversity of the community that they live in.”
Vision and values
Both schools explained how the satellite provision helps to strengthen their school values, with Allenvale citing belonging, and Ashgrove emphasising trust and service to others, two of the four values that underpin their vision of “growing together for success”.
One factor in the success of the satellite provision is the shared vision and commitment of both schools, and the inclusion of all stakeholders both prior to and following its establishment. For example, the leadership team at Allenvale School presented information on the proposed satellite to staff at its base school prior to making a final decision.
Both principals state that for successful satellite provision, schools must have a mutual philosophy of inclusive practice from the outset, and must use this to develop a shared operational understanding of what this means on the ground. This includes aspects such as how people act and interact, and how inclusive practice should look in both schools.
While their shared vision is formally laid out in a partnership agreement, both principals agree that the values captured in this document lay the groundwork for a much higher degree of informal collaboration. Staff in the Kōwhai learning space next to the satellite spaces are responsible for informally keeping Allenvale staff informed of staff and school events, and Allenvale staff have access to the school calendar. Likewise, Ashgrove staff are also kept well-informed, with Allenvale providing a presentation and accompanying information about the students who will be joining the satellite provision next year.
Currently, a sign on the street indicates Allenvale’s presence on site, but the schools recognise that the satellite provision is such an integrated part of Ashgrove School that one of their next steps will be renaming the satellite spaces in line with naming across the rest of the school.
They are continuing to explore further opportunities for Allenvale students to be involved in curriculum provision at Ashgrove School. Allenvale’s specialist teachers are also able to provide support for Ashgrove staff and students, and their IT teacher will be offering programmes of benefit to both schools in 2018.
Both schools understand that some possibilities are still yet to be discovered, but agree that “you hold your vision as a lens, and use that as a way to see any opportunities through”.