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|Hall Cliffe School
|Mrs Vicky Prosser
|Dovecote Lane, Wakefield, WF4 6BB
|Other independent special school
|Number of Pupils
What is it like to attend this school?
This is a friendly school where pupils are safe. Many pupils who join Hall Cliffe School have struggled to settle in their previous school. At this school, pupils build positive relationships with staff. Pupils attend well. Bullying is very rare and, if it happens, staff respond to it quickly and effectively.
The school has a highly ambitious subject offer. All pupils follow national curriculum subjects. Pupils also study car maintenance, land-based studies, catering, and hair and beauty. Pupils sit a wide range of qualifications. These qualifications include entry-level certificates, GCSEs and vocational awards. There is a strong focus on preparing pupils for life outside of school. In recent years, all pupils who left the school after completing Year 11 progressed to a further education or training course.
There is a lot on offer to pupils outside of the taught subjects. All pupils participate in a daily, lunchtime activity. These activities include games, computer time or helping out in the library. Pupils also spend one afternoon each week on an enrichment activity. This is an activity which pupils identify as something new they would like to try. The activities help pupils develop new interests and talents. Some pupils choose to go fishing, for example, while others work on a short film in the school’s media centre.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
All subjects, have long- and medium- term plans. In most subjects, these plans are detailed and well sequenced. The plans show how pupils revisit key concepts and skills. In these subjects, pupils confidently learn more complicated ideas over time. In a small number of subjects, however, the long- and medium- term plans are underdeveloped. They are not as detailed or well sequenced as they need to be. Leaders are aware of this. The school is partway through a curriculum review. The school’s work to review those subjects with weaker plans is not completed.
Teachers have strong subject knowledge. They regularly check what pupils know in lessons. Teachers are quick to pick up on, and address, any misunderstanding pupils may have. However, how the school checks what pupils can remember at the end of a topic or a series of lessons is variable. In the small number of subjects where plans are underdeveloped, the checks on what learning pupils have retained is not done as thoroughly.
Reading is a top priority at the school. Pupils at the early stage of reading have phonics lessons regularly. Trained staff teach these phonics lessons very well. All staff know which pupils are at the early stages of reading. Across the school, staff reinforce the teaching of reading in subject lessons. The school library is a delightful space. It is well used by pupils. Pupils love their time in the library. They enjoy the comfy chairs and the wide choice of books and magazines.
Staff’s understanding of pupils’ needs is a strength of the school. The school’s clinical team, made up of specialist therapists and health professionals, is highly effective. There are prompt assessments of pupils’ specific needs. Each pupil has a personalised plan which details the strategies and resources they need. Staff skilfully adapt lessons, and other activities, in response to pupils’ special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
Pupils behave well. Sometimes a pupil may struggle to keep calm and focused on learning. When this happens, staff provide immediate and reassuring support. There is no disruption to the learning of others.
There is a well-organised programme of personal, social and health education (PSHE). Pupils learn about themselves and the world around them. This includes learning about how to stay healthy and safe. Relationships and sex education is woven through the PSHE programme well. The school has well-resourced citizenship and careers programmes. These contribute strongly to pupils’ personal development. In citizenship lessons, for example, pupils learn about democracy, British values and the importance of human rights. In careers lessons, pupils learn about different places to work and the skills needed for employment. Older pupils meet with an independent careers adviser to discuss possible next steps into education, training or employment. The school has, what it calls, the ‘independent plus’ programme. Pupils learn how to travel independently, manage money and cook healthy meals.
The proprietor has established robust governance systems. There is a school board which meets half-termly. The board members are experienced and knowledgeable. The school board reports directly to the proprietor. The school meets its duties under the Equality Act 2010. All school policies and protocols promote equality and diversity.
The proprietor has ensured that all of the independent school standards (the standards) are met. Some of the standards were previously unmet. The proprietor took prompt action to address the issues that had led to these unmet standards. These standards are now met. The proprietor has employed specialist leaders of teaching and learning, health and safety, and safeguarding. These leaders regularly check that the school is meeting all of the standards consistently.
The majority of staff speak warmly about the support they get from leaders in terms of training and for their well-being. Early careers teachers follow an appropriate induction programme.
Many parents and carers speak highly of the school. Leaders promote community partnerships well. For example, pupils at the vocational centre are reclaiming an area of wasteland near to the site in liaison with the local community.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and proprietor)
? The long- and medium- term plans in a small number of subjects do not make the key knowledge to be learned clear. They do not outline how this knowledge is to be revisited and built on over time. These shortcomings limit pupils’ ability to make secure connections between what they have learned previously and what they are learning now. The school should complete its curriculum review promptly and ensure that all subject plans are sufficiently detailed and sequenced, and make an effective contribution to pupils’ learning. ? In a small number of subjects, the link between planned learning and summative assessment is not as clear as it needs to be. This limits teachers’ ability to plan for pupils’ learning incisively and affects pupils’ retention of key learning in these subjects. The school should complete its curriculum review promptly to ensure that the summative assessment points on each subject plan are clear and that the content of the assessments matches the planned learning.