Clarity Independent School


Name Clarity Independent School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Requires improvement
Inspection Date 11 February 2020
Address Bridge Farm Barn, Woodhill Road, Sandon, Essexx, CM2 7SG
Phone Number 01245408606
Type Independent (special)
Age Range 6-16
Religious Character Not applicable
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 9 (66% boys 34% girls)
Local Authority Essex
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

What is it like to attend this school?

While Clarity Independent School pupils take huge steps in improving their attendance, behaviour and personal development, they do not always do as well as they should in their academic studies. Sometimes staff set work that is too easy.

Pupils enjoy coming to the school. They like the small and close-knit community. They say that it is a friendly and safe place to learn. Staff are exceptionally caring and supportive. They understand pupils’ social and emotional needs well. Working relationships between staff and pupils are very strong. These relationships contribute significantly to pupils’ good behaviour and increasingly positive attitudes to learning. Parents and carers speak highly of the encouraging role that the school has played in changing their children’s lives.

Pupils say that there is no bullying here. At break and lunchtimes, they are sociable and get on well with each other. The school guinea pigs are a popular feature of playtime. Pupils like helping to look after them. They understand their responsibility to make sure that there is a regular supply of clean water and fresh food.

Pupils join in a range of activities, including forest school, swimming, local visits and cooking. Most enjoy reading and can speak with confidence about their books.

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

The current school team is new and still developing. Staff have not had all the training they need to help them to plan effectively for pupils’ learning over time. Some staff lack confidence to teach across a range of subjects. Expectations of what pupils can manage are not matched well enough to their ability, improving confidence and attitudes to learning. Systems for checking on what pupils already know and what they need to improve are at an early stage of implementation.

Staff plan interesting activities, but learning is not always ordered in the most logical way or revisited at the most appropriate time to help pupils know and remember more. Where learning is effectively planned, staff help pupils to revisit topic themes in different subjects. In one example, they linked a project on Charles Darwin to current work in English and found opportunities to discuss issues such as selective breeding and aspects of history.

Pupils are encouraged to read a range of different texts in lessons. In English, older pupils were excited by the book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. They enjoyed discussing the meaning of different sections as they took turns to read aloud. They also showed good recall as they made links to the storylines they had read previously. Most pupils enjoy reading. Some of the books they choose to read independently, and with school staff, are not challenging enough to improve their reading skills over time.

Staff have a clear understanding of pupils’ social and emotional needs. They take great care to ensure that these needs are met. Pupils’ personal development is promoted well. Pupils are keen to take on responsibilities, such as acting as ‘ambassadors’ for new entrants to the school. They are currently planning their ideas for more pupil responsibility roles and setting up a new school council.

Improving pupils’ physical and mental health is a high priority. Regular exercise and sports, including swimming, are popular events. Working relationships between peers and with school staff make a positive difference to pupils’ attitudes to learning and their regular attendance. The school team acts as a strong role model in helping pupils learn to be respectful of individual differences. Behaviour in lessons and around the building is mostly good. The occasional outburst is managed safely and well.

The proprietor, who is also the headteacher, has not ensured that all the independent school standards are met. This is because there are weaknesses in implementing the planned curriculum. The intended key stage 3 curriculum is not fully in place. Staff have not had the training they need to help them to plan effectively for pupils’ academic learning. School improvement planning, including plans for introducing the key stage 4 curriculum and arrangements for ongoing staff development, is at an early stage.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

There is a strong culture of safeguarding across the school. Leaders ensure that all the required pre-employment checks are made before new staff join the school. Staff training is up to date. The team is vigilant and knows what to do if a concern needs to be raised. Staff understand the signs to look out for that may indicate a pupil could be at risk of harm. Pupils say that they feel safe when they are in the school.

Leaders make sure that the school building is well maintained. All the necessary health and safety checks, including risk assessments, are completed.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

Staff do not routinely adapt their planning to take account of the things that pupils already know and what they need to do better. Pupils in mixed-age groups are often set the same work, regardless of their ability or different starting points. Consequently, they do not learn as well as should. The school’s assessment system is still evolving. Leaders should check that all staff are clear about what needs to be taught at each key stage and that the intended programme of assessment is implemented effectively.Some staff do not have the knowledge they need to teach with confidence across subjects. Learning is not always planned in the most local order or revisited to help pupils know and remember more. Leaders should ensure that all staff have the training and skills they need to implement the intended curriculum successfully. They should evaluate the quality of pupils’ academic learning regularly to inform further improvements and share good practice. . Systems for monitoring and reviewing the quality of education that the school provides are underdeveloped. This means that the proprietor and school leaders do not have an accurate picture of the school’s effectiveness. Leaders should set out their medium- and long-term vision in a well-defined school development plan, with clear milestones and regular review points involving the whole team.