Darwen Vale High School

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About Darwen Vale High School

Name Darwen Vale High School
Website http://www.darwenvale.com
Ofsted Inspections
Mr Matthew Little
Address Blackburn Road, Darwen, BB3 0AL
Phone Number 01254223000
Phase Academy
Type Academy sponsor led
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 1044
Local Authority Blackburn with Darwen
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils are made to feel welcome at Darwen Vale High School. They settle into school quickly and forge strong friendships with their peers. Pupils appreciate the support that they receive from their teachers.

This helps pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), to feel safe and happy.

Typically, pupils are respectful to each other. The school and the trust have reinforced new behaviour routines through their 'Vale values' programme.

Most pupils understand and adhere to these routines. This has helped the school to cultivate a calm and purposeful learning environment.

Pupils have benefited from the rapid improve...ments made to the curriculum.

The trust and the school have set high expectations of what pupils should achieve. Pupils have responded well to these raised standards. They engage positively in their learning and many achieve well.

Pupils, including those with SEND, appreciate the range of clubs and activities that enrich their experiences. For example, pupils enjoy taking part in house competitions and sporting events. This encourages pupils to work as a team and fosters a sense of community.

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

With the support from the trust, the school has strengthened the curriculum design. It has raised the profile of many subjects such as geography and modern foreign languages in key stage 3. This has improved the take up of English Baccalaureate suite of subjects at key stage 4.

This means that more pupils are accessing a broad and balanced curriculum than previously.

The trust and the local governing committee have worked collaboratively with the school to enhance the delivery of the curriculum. Teachers value the school's coaching and co-planning programme.

These opportunities support the management of their workload and encourage collaboration when designing learning activities. As a result, most teachers are equipped with strong subject knowledge and useful teaching strategies. As such, in most subjects, pupils learn new content well.

The school has successfully refined its systems to identify any additional needs that pupils may have. Many teachers understand these needs well. They are adept at tailoring their lessons to ensure that the curriculum is accessed successfully by pupils with SEND.

Nevertheless, in some subjects, teachers do not adapt their teaching effectively enough. This leaves a small number of pupils with SEND not achieving as well as they should.

Pupils who struggle with reading are identified swiftly.

Staff know the specific gaps in pupils' reading knowledge. This helps them to design successful programmes of support so that these pupils can read with greater fluency and accuracy. However, the support for some pupils, especially those in key stage 4, is not effective enough.

This means that some older pupils do not develop their reading knowledge as quickly as they should.

The school has been successful in bringing about improvements to pupils' behaviour since the previous inspection. Teachers use the new behaviour systems consistently well to deal with poor behaviour.

These approaches are securing improvements in pupils' attitude and conduct. Lessons are rarely disrupted.

Attendance is a high priority for the trust and the school.

Appropriate action is taken to tackle the low attendance of pupils, especially those with SEND. The school is working effectively with families and external agencies to understand and remove the barriers that cause pupils to be absent. Such work is reducing the rate of pupil absences.

The personal, social, health and economic education curriculum is carefully structured and delivered well. Pupils know about keeping healthy and maintaining good physical and mental health. They are equipped with age-appropriate information about taking responsibility for the relationships that they forge online and offline.

The school encourages pupils to engage with charitable work such as raising money for a local hospice. This promotes pupils' willingness to serve the community and help others.

The school has mapped out a wide range of extra-curricular experiences.

For instance, some pupils attend team building residential trips and various rewards activities. However, the opportunities to expand pupils' knowledge beyond the curriculum is limited. Some pupils do not receive sufficient experiences to learn about the wider world and different cultures.

As a result, some pupils' knowledge of life beyond the classroom is less secure.

Pupils are prepared sufficiently well for their career pathways. For instance, the school engages with local employers to deliver industry days and visits.

Pupils are better informed about the world of work. The rate of pupils entering education, employment and training has improved over time.

The trust and the local governing committee are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

They ensure that they challenge and support the school when driving improvements. Over recent years, they have reviewed and refined the school's policies and systems to improve how well pupils behave and achieve.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Some teachers do not consider the needs of some pupils with SEND well enough when delivering the curriculum. As a result, these pupils do not receive sufficient support to help them to achieve well. The school should ensure that the teachers use the information about pupils with SEND effectively when adapting teaching activities so that pupils with SEND access the curriculum successfully and achieve well.

• For a small number of pupils, the support that they receive to help them overcome gaps in their reading knowledge is not effective. This means that some pupils are not able to read with sufficient fluency and accuracy to access the curriculum. The school should enhance its systems to support those pupils who need help to overcome their reading difficulties so that they are well equipped for their learning across the curriculum.

• The opportunities to expand pupils' knowledge of life beyond the classroom is not designed as well as it should be. This means that some pupils develop limited knowledge of different cultures and the wider world. The school should ensure that pupils gain a richer insight into the modern world in which they live.

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