Castle School, Cambridge

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About Castle School, Cambridge

Name Castle School, Cambridge
Ofsted Inspections
Ms Charlotte Whysall
Address Courtney Way, Cambridge, CB4 2EE
Phone Number 01223442400
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 238
Local Authority Cambridgeshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils enjoy attending school. They are welcomed every day into a nurturing environment. Pupils are cared for by adults who understand their specific needs.

Pupils are proud of their school values. They are polite and respectful.

There is a renewed sense of aspiration from leaders as to what all pupils can achieve, regardless of starting points or needs.

Many pupils are now learning well. Pupils enjoy lessons. They are starting to benefit from the reviewed curriculum leaders have recently put in place.

However, there has not been enough time for changes to take effect. Older pupils in particular wish changes could happen more quickly.

Pupils... learn in a calm and well-ordered environment.

They focus and pay attention to their teachers. In social times, pupils play happily together. They take advantage of the play equipment and activities offered to develop their movement and coordination.

Pupils enjoy a comprehensive enrichment offer. This provides pupils with a breadth of experiences. They develop a strong sense of independence through real-life experiences.

Older pupils gain valuable experience in colleges and the workplace. This helps them as they transition out of the school and prepares them for adult life.

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

The school has taken swift, considered action to redesign the curriculum.

The school has prioritised improving the English and mathematics curriculum. In these subjects, teachers know what to teach, when and how best to teach it. Here, pupils are beginning to learn well.

Reading has been placed at the centre of curriculum design. Leaders have made sure that staff are able to teach the new phonics scheme consistently well from early years upwards. Teachers adapt activities effectively so that they meet the individual communication and language needs of most pupils.

In the primary phase, many pupils are now fluent readers. Pupils with specific communication needs are skilfully supported to express themselves and develop an understanding of the world around them.

However, the teaching of reading in the secondary phase is not as well developed.

There are not enough opportunities for pupils to focus on how well they understand what they are reading. As a result, pupils read fluently but do not always understand what they have read. Pupils are not always able to use what they have read to effectively support their learning across the curriculum.

In other subjects, the school has set out what pupils with various needs should know. Leaders have considered what should be taught and in what order. However, the completion of the revised curriculum is still in the early stages of implementation.

This means that teachers are not yet confident in how the content they are teaching links to pupils' future learning or builds on what they know already. Also, the school has not yet fully developed teachers' understanding of how to best teach these subjects. This is improving quickly, but it is not consistent or tailored enough.

Currently, pupils' learning in these subjects does not yet match the updated ambitious curriculum aims.

Leaders have been decisive in improving how teachers can check more easily and accurately what pupils have learned. However, where the curriculum is new, some teachers are less clear on what knowledge they are basing these checks on.

This means teachers cannot always pinpoint with precision gaps in pupils' knowledge. Consequently, some pupils move on to new learning with gaps in what they know and have learned.

Pupils behave well.

Staff know individuals and their needs in detail. Staff use this knowledge to quickly identify where pupils may begin to lose focus. They sensitively intervene in an unobtrusive and effective way.

This means learning progresses with rarely any disruption. Pupils attend school regularly. They build strong friendships.

The school ensures that pupils have a secure knowledge of important values such as respect and empathy. They are supported to be confident and safe in the wider community. Much of this is woven through the broad offer of wider experiences available for all pupils.

The careers programme is well thought out for specific needs and interests. It helps pupils to think carefully about their next steps and helps them successfully transition to life after school.

Governors continue to raise the level of rigour of their challenge to leaders.

There is now improved scrutiny around the impact of the actions leaders have taken. Staff are proud to be part of the school. Leaders have ensured that staff work well together and share their vision of enabling all pupils to achieve the highest levels of success.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Updates to the curriculum are still being finalised in some subjects. This means teachers are not yet fully clear as to what specific knowledge they need to teach or to check what pupils have learned.

The school should ensure that these curriculum updates are all completed so that teachers can precisely know firstly what they need to teach, and then how best to check that pupils have retained this knowledge before moving on to learning something new. The reading curriculum in the secondary phase is not as fully developed as leaders intend. Pupils develop fluency.

However, there are limited opportunities for them to learn other important reading skills such as comprehension and inference. This hinders how well some pupils can achieve what they are fully capable of. The school should ensure that all teachers are trained to deliver a reading curriculum that supports these pupils to develop a rich understanding of what they read.

• Some teachers have not been fully trained to support pupils access learning as leaders intend. This means that, sometimes, teachers select activities, explanations or resources that are not the most appropriate to support pupils achieve their personal learning goals. The school should ensure that all staff are trained in a range of bespoke pedagogical approaches that enable them to choose the most suitable learning activity to enable pupils to learn the intended curriculum as successfully as they can, so that they consistently achieve well.

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