Cambian Devon School

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About Cambian Devon School

Name Cambian Devon School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Pamela Husbands
Address Intek House, 52 Borough Road, Paignton, TQ4 7DQ
Phone Number 01803524537
Phase Independent (special)
Type Other independent special school
Age Range 7-18
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 21
Local Authority Devon

What is it like to attend this school?

The school caters for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs or autism spectrum disorder. Some pupils settle in well and benefit from aspects of the curriculum, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. However, a significant proportion of pupils do not integrate successfully. They spend long periods of time on part-time timetables. Many placements break down altogether.

Some pupils access very little face-to-face learning. Their opportunities to work and socialise with others are limited. The school does not provide a broad enough curriculum or a wide enough range of experiences for these pupils.

There is a second site at Buckfastleigh where some pupils enjoy outdoor learning and work towards vocational qualifications. A small number of pupils spend some of their time attending college, engaging in land-based and creative activities or volunteering for local charities. Where these experiences are made available to pupils, they contribute well to their personal development.

Pupils who attend school regularly behave respectfully towards one another. Leaders address any bullying quickly. In some subjects, staff help pupils to develop resilience. Teaching staff work closely with pupils to guide their learning. However, some pupils become overly reliant on this. Some do not learn to think for themselves.

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

Leaders have developed a structured curriculum for pupils to follow in each subject. The curriculum includes some ambitious content. However, it does not fully provide for pupils’ needs. For example, leaders know that writing is very weak across the school. The curriculum encourages writing, but it does not help pupils to develop fluent handwriting or to spell accurately. Consequently, pupils continue to find writing very difficult. This reduces the chance that pupils will be successful later with qualifications such as GCSEs.

The arrangements to help pupils in the early stages of reading are insufficient. Leaders suspect that many pupils have gaps in their phonic knowledge, but they do not check for this. The approach to helping pupils to catch up is not systematic enough. Leaders cannot give a clear account of their arrangements to support pupils. Some pupils receive extra literacy classes. However, these are not provided regularly enough and do not include the phonics teaching which many pupils require. As a result, pupils’ reading does not improve quickly enough.

The curriculum for each pupil is different. Where pupils find it difficult to learn in a small group, they attend school only part time or not at all. Some of the youngest pupils attend school the least. Leaders can admit pupils from the age of seven, but the curriculum provided to pupils in key stage 2 does not enable them to catch up quickly. These pupils access very little specialist teaching in English. Their limited timetables mean that they do not study a broad curriculum or any subject in sufficient depth.

Pupils in key stage 4 who struggle to manage their behaviour are moved onto remote learning arrangements. These pupils lose access to the curriculum elements they enjoyed at the Buckfastleigh site. There is some effective use of alternative provision. Some pupils have success attending other local specialist settings. Leaders provide online lessons in personal, social and health education (PSHE) for some pupils, but their engagement is poor.

Leaders arrange work packs for pupils learning remotely. Outreach staff take some pupils to public spaces, such as the library or gym, where they work through the curriculum. Leaders do not monitor the impact of these arrangements well enough. The work packs are not well matched to pupils’ needs and are a poor representation of the curriculum taught in school. Consequently, pupils’ engagement is poor and staff express a sense of pointlessness around the process.

Most pupils join the school following unsuccessful and disjointed experiences of education. Parents are hopeful that this specialist setting will be able to meet their child’s needs. Leaders work with parents to plan the support their child will receive. However, there is a disconnect between the expectations of parents and leaders. Some parents are frustrated by the limitations leaders place on what their child can access. A characteristic of the school is that many pupils do not access the curriculum elements they need or are likely to enjoy. This causes pupils’ motivation to dwindle.

Pupils do not attend well. This impedes their ability to learn the curriculum further. Leaders maintain appropriate records around attendance but they do not take account of patterns and trends. They do not fully understand how different curriculum arrangements impact upon pupils’ attendance. This makes it difficult for leaders to act strategically to improve overall rates of attendance. Leaders discuss their concerns about the attendance of individual pupils with parents. They try to resolve any barriers but are reluctant to challenge parents robustly when necessary.

Leaders have developed detailed plans to support the teaching of PSHE. The curriculum includes the required elements of relationships and sex education. However, the curriculum is at an early stage of implementation. Pupils have started to learn the content, but they still have gaps in their knowledge and some misconceptions. Leaders broaden pupils’ knowledge of others and the world through ‘cultural days’. Older pupils, including those who learn remotely, receive helpful independent careers advice.

Most staff have confidence in the school’s leaders. Staff feel well supported with their workload and well-being. However, a minority of staff identify examples of low standards around behaviour management and record-keeping.

The proprietor provides a range of supportive services to the school. This helps school leaders to manage their responsibilities. The headteacher receives useful support from a representative of the proprietor, who visits the school regularly. Together, leaders have ensured that the school complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010 and that the school is a safe place, where pupils’ health, safety and well-being are promoted.

However, the proprietor does not do enough to hold leaders to account for how well the provision meets pupils’ needs. Insufficient attention has been given to pupils’ attendance and the various part-time and remote learning packages that leaders arrange. The proprietor does not know enough about the provision, including the school’s curriculum and how well pupils access this. Consequently, the school does not meet the requirements set out in parts 1, 2 and 8 of the independent school standards.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders have a good awareness of the risks in pupils’ lives and the potential impact of these. Staff receive effective safeguarding training when they join the school. They report their concerns through a robust system. Leaders make appropriate referrals where necessary. They share information, collaborate well and seek advice from safeguarding partners.

Staff are well prepared to manage any risks associated with pupils’ behaviour in the light of their individual needs. They appreciate that the pupils who attend this school are particularly vulnerable, for example, to exploitation or radicalisation. Staff are vigilant and knowledgeable about these possibilities.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

? The school’s aim is to cater specifically for the needs of pupils with SEND. However, it does not meet the needs of these pupils well enough. Leaders have a low success rate in re-engaging pupils with education. They are not ambitious for every pupil. Too many placements break down. Leaders should adapt and develop the provision so that it meets the needs of pupils more effectively. ? A significant proportion of pupils attend only part time or a limited curriculum is provided to them remotely. Too often, these arrangements are in place for prolonged periods. This causes the already significant gaps in pupils’ learning to widen further. Leaders must ensure that any part-time or remote provision is short lived and in the best interests of pupils. ? The remote curriculum lacks coherence and rigour. The work provided is not well matched to pupils’ capabilities and needs. Consequently, pupils who learn remotely engage with a narrow range of subjects. They are not able to deepen their knowledge and make progress. Leaders should ensure that the curriculum offered remotely is meaningful and motivating to pupils. Leaders recognise that pupils have fallen behind with their reading and writing. However, they have not prioritised the curriculum content pupils need to address these gaps. Pupils who need to catch up do not spend enough time learning a phonics curriculum or developing the transcription skills needed for fluent writing. Leaders should design a curriculum that helps pupils to catch up quickly. ? The majority of pupils miss too much school. Expectations of how well pupils will attend are too low. There is a reluctance to challenge families. Leaders do not fully understand the attendance information they record. As a result, their strategic oversight is weak and their actions are unfocused. Leaders should raise their expectations of, and develop a systematic approach to analysing, pupils’ attendance. ? The proprietor has not identified important weaknesses in the school. School leaders, who work with parents to decide how best to support pupils, do not receive necessary support and challenge from the proprietor with regard to their decision-making. The proprietor must hold leaders to account robustly for the quality of education provided to each pupil.

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