Five Acre Wood School

Name Five Acre Wood School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 25 March 2015
Address Boughton Lane, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 9QF
Phone Number 01622743925
Type Special
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 456 (67% boys 33% girls)
Local Authority Kent
Percentage Free School Meals 26%
Percentage English is Not First Language 5.7%
Persisitent Absence 25.7%
Pupils with SEN Support 5.5%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about this school

Five Acre Wood is considerably larger than the average special school. The number of pupils has grown by more than a quarter since the previous inspection. It is a district provision for pupils with moderate, severe, profound and complex learning difficulties, and autism. The school calls each of these a phase, and this determines how pupils are grouped. Classes are determined by pupils’ age and the teaching style that they require, based on the nature and severity of their learning difficulty. All pupils have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan. The school is situated across three sites. Pupils on the main site cover the full age range. In addition, four classes of the most able pupils and students are located in two nearby mainstream schools. One Key Stage 4 class and two post-16 classes have their own accommodation at Aylesford School Sports College. One Key Stage 2 class is based in Eastborough Primary School. The secondary link is long established, while the primary one only began in January 2015. Almost half of all pupils are in Key Stages 1 and 2. There are only a small number of children in Reception and all of them attend full time. Pupils represent a range of ethnic backgrounds, although White British pupils form more than half of the school roll. Two thirds of all pupils are boys. The school receives pupil premium funding for a third of its pupils, which is higher than the national average. Pupil premium is additional government funding for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and for children who are looked after. Only a very small number of pupils are looked after by the local authority. The school also receives specific additional funding to support the learning of Year 7 pupils, and physical education and sport funding for primary-aged pupils. The school’s senior leadership team was restructured with effect from January 2015 as new posts and responsibilities were established. Two heads of school were appointed, for primary and secondary respectively, and each of these is supported by an assistant headteacher who was newly appointed to that role at the same time. A third assistant headteacher is responsible for pupils’ well-being. The restructuring process also saw significant changes to middle management. Key stage leaders were replaced by five middle managers, who are referred to as lead teachers. Four of these have responsibility for a particular ‘phase’, such as autism, across the school. The fifth middle manager is the lead teacher for post-16 provision. A few pupils on the Aylesford School Sports College site attend some GCSE classes in the main school. Apart from this, no pupils attend any other establishments regularly for any part of their education. The school receives termly visits from the local authority’s school improvement partner.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. Leadership and management are outstanding. Highly effective senior leaders and an increasingly influential governing body have raised standards significantly since the previous inspection. Exceptionally good procedures for checking how well the school is doing, and drawing out the few priorities that will improve it even more, have been instrumental in driving the school’s raised performance. Sharing this agenda for change with staff, parents and pupils is a key factor in the school’s success. Everyone associated with the school knows what leaders are trying to achieve and how it is to be brought about. The staff and parents are very supportive of the school. Leaders have extremely high expectations of pupils and staff. They have an unrelenting focus on maintaining the highest possible quality of teaching and they have implemented very through procedures for achieving this. Middle managers, who have responsibility for pupils with a particular type of learning difficulty throughout the school, make a very important contribution to this very strong leadership of teaching. Teaching is typically outstanding, with no variation in quality between sites or key stages. All members of class teams manage pupils’ behaviour very well and contribute significantly to supporting their learning. Teaching enables all pupils to make excellent progress. The school meets the needs of all groups of pupils. Pupils make outstanding progress. Their achievement is excellent compared with pupils of the same age and starting points in other schools. The excellent early years provision enables children to thrive and make outstanding progress in all areas of learning. They are prepared extremely well for moving into Year 1. Pupils’ behaviour and attitudes are excellent. They are invariably good natured and respond positively to staff’s requests and direction. Attendance is average, but this overall figure is distorted by the frequent absences of pupils with medical conditions. Pupils make outstanding progress in their personal development. They become more confident and increasingly socially aware, which gives them the skills to interact with adults and their classmates. Excellent post-16 provision enables students to leave school very well prepared for adulthood. They have qualifications to pursue further education and self-help skills to live as independently as possible. Leaders have established a very good range of activities, which are closely tailored to support the learning of pupils with different types of learning difficulty. The school uses its current partnerships with other schools well to extend this range of learning activities for some pupils, but leaders recognise that there is scope to build on this further, including forming links for Key Stage 3 pupils and with colleges.