Fusion College


Name Fusion College
Ofsted Inspection Rating Inadequate
Inspection Date 10 March 2020
Address Manleys Farm, West Buckland, Wellington, Somerset, TA21 9LQ
Phone Number 01823653620
Type Independent (special)
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character None
Gender Girls
Number of Pupils Unknown
Local Authority Somerset
Percentage Free School Meals 0.0%
Pupils with SEN Support 60%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

What is it like to attend this school?

Caring relationships help pupils feel secure. Pupils say that they feel safe here. All agree that there is a trusted adult they can approach if worries need sharing. Pupils report that there has been bullying in the past which was not dealt with effectively. However, this is not the case now and pupils get along well.

Staff care about pupils and want them to succeed. However, a lack of expertise means that staff’s expectations of pupils’ learning are too low. The curriculum is poorly planned. As a result, pupils are not challenged, and they fail to achieve as well as they should.

Pupils share positive relationships with one another. However, despite mixing together well, there is not enough for pupils to do. The extensive outdoor area is not used. Instead, pupils socialise indoors or take fresh air in the courtyard car park. Pupils have too few opportunities to get out and stretch their legs.

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

Directors have not fulfilled their duty as members of the proprietorial body. They have not ensured that the school meets all the independent school standards consistently. Directors have a lack of knowledge of educational requirements. Those responsible have not made sure that the school complies with Schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010 as there is no accessibility plan in place.Leaders do not ensure that pupils gain the knowledge and experiences to learn well. The curriculum is poorly planned and not individualised to meet pupils’ special educational needs. In some subjects there is no agreed approach. For instance, in English and mathematics, subject leaders do not yet have agreed curriculum plans as these are still being developed. Instead, staff follow examination specifications and select what they want to teach, ad hoc, from text books. Pupils have had changeable teaching arrangements this year, including up to three different teachers in some subjects. Staff do not understand pupils’ learning needs well, which limits how well pupils do.Staff mean well but lack expertise. The school’s new assessment systems are not yet supporting teachers to plan activities that build on pupils’ prior learning. Teachers do not know pupils’ individual education plans well enough. In addition, teaching arrangements have recently changed so that pupils in different key stages are now taught together. This has caused confusion as staff do not know what they should be teaching, or why. As a result, the curriculum is a poorly connected series of themes and lessons. However, the headteacher is determined to make improvements and is currently beginning to review the curriculum.Pupils often behave well. They listen to their teachers and are respectful to one another’s contributions. However, staff are not yet skilled in how to manage pupils’ social, emotional and mental health needs. Pupils take too long to settle followingany disruptions to their learning. Staff try to cajole pupils back to work but there is no clear approach for how to best manage these situations. There is not an agreed, coordinated response when such situations arise. Nevertheless, pupils’ disengagement rarely affects others who are trying to learn.Some aspects of the curriculum are not taught often enough. For instance, pupils have received very little teaching about relationships and sex education. Leaders are trying to develop the school’s offer so that pupils’ personal development needs are better met. The headteacher has introduced weekly sessions that have included the themes of magic, music and exercise. However, there is not a coherent, well-thought-out plan for developing pupils’ personal interests.For some time, those responsible have not kept pupils’ education, health and care plans (EHC plans) under annual review. The proprietorial body is unable to account for expenditure relating to pupils’ EHC plans. The school’s new special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) is knowledgeable and trying to strengthen the school’s approach. However, as pupils’ EHC plans are outdated, there is no clear understanding of what is needed to support pupils well enough. Furthermore, the school’s careers programme is poor and not well aligned to pupils’ own hopes and ambitions.The school’s attendance policy outlines appropriate procedures for dealing with pupils’ absence. For instance, a home tutor is deployed to encourage pupils to return to school. However, due to staffing restrictions, leaders have not yet implemented this procedure. As a result, some pupils’ absence can become unnecessarily protracted.The proprietor has not ensured that standards relating to welfare, health and safety are met fully. The chair of the proprietorial body recognises that safeguarding in this school is ineffective. The safeguarding policy is available on the school’s website. However, leaders’ practices and procedures to keep pupils safe do not follow the government’s latest guidance. Leaders do not complete all necessary checks on supply staff before they start work at the school. Safer recruitment requirements are not implemented robustly. Leaders do not check that staff from alternative providers are safe to be with children. Some procedures, including those relating to allegations about staff, are not followed closely. When allegations are investigated, staff do not receive any written confirmation detailing the outcomes of leaders’ decisions. The school’s designated safeguarding leader does not liaise closely enough with the headteacher about staffing matters. Although advice is sought appropriately from the designated officer when appropriate, this is not always acted upon promptly.

The school’s website does not contain all the required information. There is no information about the school’s approach to teaching pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) or those for whom English is an additional language. The proprietorial body has not ensured that the standard relating to the provision of information is met.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

The safeguarding policy is not adhered to. Some staff have not read statutory guidance. This means that staff’s understanding of signs to look out for, including indicators of potential abuse or welfare concerns, is poor.

The system for reporting a concern is confusing. There is a great deal of uncertainty and staff do not always know which form to fill in. Those responsible add further insecurity as they are unsure whether reported cases are allegations about staff, complaints, or concerns about pupils. This means that the appropriate course of action is not always triggered.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

The proprietorial body has not ensured that the independent school standards are met. Directors do not have strong systems to hold leaders to account. Directors should ensure that they carry out their responsibilities effectively so that the independent school standards are met in full. . The arrangements to keep pupils safe are ineffective. Directors and staff do not understand or implement robust safer recruitment procedures. Those responsible do not make all the necessary recruitment checks in a timely manner. They do not maintain accurate safeguarding records. To keep pupils as safe as possible, directors and leaders need to ensure that: – supply staff have the necessary vetting checks and that these are detailed in the school’s single central record – allegations against staff are managed appropriately, including when informing individuals of the outcome of any investigation – pupils receive a well-planned relationships and sex education programme so that they can form healthy relationships – pupils missing in care/education plans are enacted and appropriate personnel are informed if pupils leave the site – pupils are supported to attend regularly.The school’s curriculum in poorly planned. It does not identify what pupils will learn, or by when. Pupils do not build up their knowledge and skills in a logical order. Leaders should make it clear what pupils are expected to learn and by when, so that pupils know more in every subject over time. . Teachers do not build on what pupils know and can do. Staff do not use assessment information well to plan work that meets pupils’ special educational needs closely. Leaders need to develop staff’s use of assessment information so that pupils’ learning builds effectively over time.Staff are not well trained to best manage pupils with SEND. Too few adaptations are put in place, including any agreed approach to managing pupils’ episodes of disengagement. Leaders need to ensure that staff receive appropriate training to develop their expertise for supporting pupils with SEND. . The school’s approach to careers education and work experience is too narrow. Pupils do not receive guidance that is aligned to their future ambitions. Not all pupils can take part in work experience. Leaders need to ensure that the school’s approach to careers education is beneficial to all. . There are too few activities for pupils at social times. Pupils do not have sufficient opportunity to exercise and let off steam during the school day. Leaders should ensure that there is a wide range of activities available for pupils, including at breaktimes.