Arbour Vale School

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About Arbour Vale School

Name Arbour Vale School
Ofsted Inspections
Mr Neil Sykes
Address Farnham Road, Farnham Royal, Slough, SL2 3AE
Phone Number 01753515560
Phase Academy (special)
Type Academy special sponsor led
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 342
Local Authority Slough
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Staff know pupils very well. They provide pupils with the help, care and support they need to become confident, independent and successful citizens. Pupils are resoundingly clear that their school is a 'friendly, happy, welcoming and safe place'.

They rise to leaders' high expectations and show positive attitudes to learning.

Pupils are polite and thoughtful. They hold doors open for others.

Around school, pupils share a warm smile with their friends and with staff as they go about their day. On the occasions when pupils find it difficult to manage their behaviour, staff respond sensitively and carefully to help pupils regulate their feelings. Pupils take ' out' to relax in the sensory garden.

They practise yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Pupils look after their environment by planting flowers around school. They revel in their responsibilities, for example as librarians, sports mentors or members of the school council.

Pupils enjoy the after-school clubs, such as dancing, multisports and crafts. They proudly showcase their singing talents by performing at local and national events. Pupils say that bullying is rare.

They trust staff, who quickly help pupils resolve any worries or problems they have.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Leaders and governors have high aspirations for all staff and pupils. They ensure that staff know pupils' individual education, health and care (EHC) plans and pastoral needs well.

Leaders work effectively with a range of external specialists, such as multidisciplinary professionals. This ensures that all pupils, including those who have significant medical and life-limiting conditions, are well supported. A wide range of specialist interventions, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, blend seamlessly into daily routines.

Consequently, pupils successfully overcome any barriers to learning.

The curriculum is interesting and engaging. It is tailored to each pupil's individual EHC plan and specific special educational needs and/or disabilities targets.

Leaders have set out well, step by step, what pupils should learn and remember from their starting points. Teachers provide activities which promote pupils' natural curiosity. However, sometimes, teachers do not always check carefully what pupils know and can do.

This means that they do not identify and address misconceptions in pupils' knowledge before introducing new activities. As a result, pupils do not learn as well as they could from their starting points.

Pupils in key stages 4 and 5 are well supported to make appropriate choices about the courses they select.

Leaders work well with pupils to ensure that the choices made are based on pupils' EHC plan targets, interests and desired career path.Pupils can choose to study a mixture of examinations, including GCSEs and vocational studies linked to what they aim to study at college. They receive well-considered independent careers guidance.

Pupils visit local colleges and receive support to apply for courses and attend interviews. Many sixth-form students successfully move on to further education or work.

Pupils develop a strong love of reading.

Across the school, pupils look forward to listening to the stories and poems staff read. They are excited to visit the well-stocked library. Older pupils listen to younger children read, and prize their roles as 'reading buddies'.

In key stage 2 and beyond, the reading curriculum helps pupils to develop their appreciation of a diverse range of texts. Leaders have introduced a new phonics programme. They make sure that the books pupils read help them practise the sounds they learn.

Leaders acknowledge that some staff do not deliver the school's phonics programme effectively. This means that some of the weakest readers do not learn to read quickly.

Children in early years are well supported.

They learn to take turns, work independently and share resources. Staff routinely use a range of communication strategies to support children, including those who are non-verbal. As a result, children are fully engaged in the work they do.

Leaders place pupils' personal development at the heart of the school's work. Staff focus on pupils' character. For instance, pupils raise funds and donations for charities they support.

Older pupils routinely organise litter picks in the local parks. Pupils work with a range of artists, musicians, storytellers and professionals. They recently displayed their artwork on 'recycling' in the local library.

Pupils understand fairness, and they know that everyone is equal, regardless of any differences. They learn about different religions and cultures. One Year 8 pupil said: 'It does not matter if you are gay or the pronoun you choose.

We are all equal and that is important.'

Governors and trustees know their school very well. They have an accurate picture of the school's strengths and of what needs to improve further.

Governors challenge leaders around the impact of their actions to improve the quality of education. Leaders value the support and leadership training provided by the trust. Staff are proud to work at Arbour Vale.

However, some staff who responded to Ofsted's staff survey report that leaders are not always mindful of their workload pressures.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders provide effective support to pupils and their families.

They have created a strong culture of safeguarding. Staff are vigilant. They receive regular training to enable them to spot potential signs of abuse.

As a result, staff record concerns in a detailed and timely manner. Leaders make referrals to the placing local authorities as appropriate. They work well with a range of external agencies to ensure that pupils get the support they need.

The curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to learn how to keep themselves safe, for example when learning online or when using the local roads.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Some staff lack subject expertise in teaching phonics effectively. As a result, the weakest readers do not learn to read quickly and confidently.

Leaders should continue to provide training to develop staff's expertise to teach pupils to read. ? Occasionally, teachers do not check and address pupils' misconceptions of the content taught. Consequently, sometimes, pupils do not learn the planned knowledge as well as they could from their individual starting points.

Leaders need to ensure that all staff are clear about how to use assessment effectively to help pupils embed the important knowledge they need to learn. ? Some staff who responded to Ofsted's staff survey do not always feel supported to manage their workload well. Leaders need to take appropriate and timely action to address the concerns raised.

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