Fernways School

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About Fernways School

Name Fernways School
Website https://www.kedlestongroup.com/schools/fernways-school/home
Ofsted Inspections
Mrs Hannah Stroud
Address Hatton Hill, Windlesham, GU20 6AB
Phone Number 01276402131
Phase Independent (special)
Type Other independent special school
Age Range 7-16
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 34
Local Authority Surrey

What is it like to attend this school?

Fernways school is a safe and happy place. Pupils trust adults to look after them and help them learn. They treat each other and their teachers with kindness and courtesy. They are proud of each other’s achievements. Over time, they learn to make good choices about their own behaviour. Bullying is extremely rare because pupils are respectful of each other.

Leaders have quickly established a warm and purposeful atmosphere in the school. Some parents reflect how coming to Fernways has been ‘life-changing’ for their children. Pupils who have been absent from education for a sustained period now come to school regularly. This helps to raise their self-esteem, as well as increase their knowledge.

Leaders understand pupils’ needs very well. They want them to be confident and successful learners, equipped to face the world. Everything they do is focused on this goal. Staff carry out their work with a common sense of purpose. Their caring persistence helps pupils to engage with learning and become more resilient. As a result, pupils gain useful knowledge about the world around them and the subjects that they study.

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

Pupils join the school at different times and often with large gaps in their prior learning. Some have been away from formal education for several months or more and are not used to daily school routines and interacting with others. Leaders quickly gather a wealth of information that helps them understand each pupil’s needs, working with families, local authorities and other relevant professionals. They take careful account of pupils’ education, health and care plans. As a result, they are able to help pupils settle quickly into school life and learning.

Pupils’ personal development is at the heart of the school’s ethos. This is embodied by the ‘Triple Cs’ – creativity, community and confidence – which are threaded through the subjects that pupils learn. ‘Lifeskills’ and social skills work complement the well-planned curriculum for personal, social and health education. Careers information helps pupils to think about their future options. Leaders’ plans to develop independent careers advice and guidance as the school expands into key stage 4 take appropriate account of both government requirements and best practice.

Leaders make effective use of the local community to help pupils develop their social, moral and cultural understanding. For example, visits to the local shops help pupils learn about money and practise interacting with unfamiliar adults, which prepares them for a more independent future life. A wealth of trips, visitors and extra-curricular activities broaden pupils’ life experiences and deepen their knowledge of different cultures and faiths. Pupils develop a clear understanding of how to make safe and healthy choices for themselves, such as around diet, exercise, relationships and when using the internet.

Leaders are aspirational for pupils’ futures. They have identified relevant qualifications that will enable pupils to move on to appropriate education, employment or training at the end of Year 11. Currently, all pupils are in key stage 2 or 3. The curriculum is giving them a broad foundation of subject knowledge on which to build in the future. Leaders’ plans to develop the curriculum into key stage 4 are appropriate. They are mindful of the need to deliberately incorporate opportunities for pupils’ ongoing wider development as well as the subject knowledge that pupils will need to gain accredited qualifications.

Reading is a central feature of the school’s work. Leaders’ work in this area is determined and effective. Pupils get the support that they need to read accurately, fluently and with confidence. Staff provide consistent and high-quality support to those pupils who most need to get better at reading. As a result, pupils are able to engage successfully with the broader curriculum.

Fernways has grown rapidly since it opened in September 2021, with many pupils and staff joining within the last few weeks. Senior leaders are driving the school forward with purpose, bringing staff seamlessly on board. Some other leaders are relatively new in their posts. As such, their work and its impact are evolving as they become more familiar with the specifics of this specialist setting. Staff are highly positive about the training and support they receive when they join the school, which enables them to do their very best for pupils.

The headteacher and deputy headteacher know their school extremely well. The proprietor body supports them effectively in checking how things are going and what needs to improve. Useful expertise from Kedleston staff helps leaders to check that the independent school standards are met consistently. Leaders are reflective and accurate about aspects of the school that are not quite as well established as others at this relatively early stage.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Pupils are safe and feel safe. Adults know them very well and are alert to potential concerns. Well-established routines keep all staff informed of relevant information about pupils. This helps leaders to act quickly if worries emerge. Where needed, leaders work persistently with local authorities to get help for pupils and their families. Leaders’ safeguarding records are suitable and were strengthened during the inspection.

Learning to stay safe is an important part of the school’s curriculum. Leaders have correctly identified where pupils may need extra help to understand risks and make decisions that keep them safe. This help is built into their learning across the curriculum.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

? The curriculum is evolving as increasing numbers of pupils, teachers and subject leaders join the school. Consequently, the precision of curriculum planning is not fully and consistently developed across all subjects and phases. As pupils move towards key stage 4, leaders should ensure that curriculum planning across all subjects identifies deliberate opportunities for pupils’ holistic development, as well as preparing pupils for relevant qualifications. ? Some leaders are relatively new in their posts. As yet, their understanding of this specialist setting is still developing. Senior leaders should continue to develop the knowledge and capacity of the wider leadership team so that there is an increasingly shared responsibility for ongoing school improvement.

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