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|Ivy Lane School
|Mr Michael Walsh
|Ivy Lane School, Ivy Lane, WF1 4AZ
|Other independent special school
|Does not apply
|Number of Pupils
What is it like to attend this school?
This school is a calm, nurturing environment. Pupils feel safe here. Staff make sure that pupils can communicate their needs and feelings. There are warm, respectful relationships. Pupils’ complex special educational needs and/or disabilities are accommodated well.
Pupils learn to recognise their emotions and to manage their behaviour. Pupils behave well. Staff deal promptly with any inappropriate behaviour and/or bullying. Routines in and around the school are well established. Staff get to know pupils very well. Over time, pupils develop their confidence. They learn to interact with their peers effectively and engage in learning willingly.
The school offers a broad curriculum. Staff want the best for pupils. There are high expectations. Pupils learn in small groups and sometimes in one-to-one situations. Staff help pupils with sensory needs to learn in a way that is comfortable and meaningful to them. Pupils utilise various resources to communicate effectively. These include using pictures and symbols.
Pupils enjoy a suitable range of activities. These activities are thoughtfully designed. They help to broaden pupils’ understanding of the world. Pupils develop their independence and prepare for adulthood well. They enjoy horse-riding, cooking, swimming and taking part in residential experiences. Older pupils benefit from visits within the community. Post-16 students enjoy work experience on a local farm.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The number of pupils has increased since the last inspection. Leaders are not complacent. They have reviewed and deliberately designed the curriculum to meet the diverse needs of pupils. They aspire for pupils to ‘develop independence through learning in a school and a community environment that offers warmth, security and consistency’. The school is achieving these aims. Pupils, staff, parents and carers are overwhelmingly positive about the school.
The curriculum for most subjects, including English and mathematics, is well sequenced across the school’s seven learning phases. The knowledge and skills that pupils need to learn are identified clearly. Leaders continue to make further pertinent refinements to some subjects to ensure that they are equally well designed.
Pupils, including those in the post-16 provision, study a curriculum that is tailored to their individual requirements. Skilled staff support pupils to engage with learning. They make learning relevant. They link activities to pupils’ interests. Pupils with limited verbal communication skills are supported well. Staff teach pupils how to use signing, digital devices and symbols to communicate.
The school carries out pre- and post-admission assessments of pupils. These contribute to pupils’ individual learning plans (ILP). These plans identify targets for pupils in their different areas of need. The plans link closely to pupils’ education, health and care plans (EHC plan). Therapists work with staff to ensure that pupils’ EHC plans are carefully considered. However, the targets for learning detailed in pupils’ ILPs lack precision. Some targets are too broad. They are not broken down into small enough steps. This leads to some variation in the effectiveness of teaching.
Pupils in the early stages of learning to read get the structured support they need. A suitable phonics programme is in place. It helps pupils to develop their knowledge of sounds and early reading skills. Staff regularly check the progress that pupils make. Staff make sure that the books pupils read match the sounds pupils know. Pupils read often. They experience a variety of different genres and texts. They enjoy listening to class stories. Pre-verbal pupils enjoy listening to songs, rhymes and sensory stories.
Pupils’ personal development is a high priority in school. The personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum contains appropriate topics of learning. Pupils receive suitable relationships, sex and health education. They learn about potential risks to their safety and the importance of good mental health. Pupils experience activities both within the local community and more widely. They enjoy visits to the Houses of Parliament, theatre, places of worship and museums. They like taking part in the Wakefield rhubarb festival, the Young Voices concert and singing in the school’s ‘Makaton’ choir.
The school provides pupils, including post-16 students, with appropriate careers information. They receive independent advice and guidance to help them to make informed choices about their next steps. They learn enterprise skills and financial management.
A new proprietor has recently taken ownership of the school. The proprietor brings a wealth of relevant expertise and experience to support the school well. Members of the proprietor body have quickly gained a comprehensive understanding of the school’s context. They have ensured that all of the independent school standards continue to be met.
The proprietor has put in place suitable procedures and policies to ensure the health, welfare and safety of pupils. Robust systems help to check different aspects of the school’s work. These include for health and safety, attendance, behaviour and safeguarding. The school’s website contains the necessary information. This includes an up-to-date safeguarding policy. The school complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010.
Staff feel proud to work at the school. They want the best for pupils. They speak about them with genuine affection. Staff feel that leaders are sympathetic to their workload and considerate of their well-being. They are eager to improve their practice to share expertise with colleagues working in other similar schools owned by the proprietor.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and proprietor)
? Targets for learning identified in pupils’ ILPs are often too ambiguous. This means that teaching does not consistently support pupils to meet their targets successfully. Leaders should ensure that pupils’ ILPs contain specific and measurable targets that can be reinforced effectively by teachers across the curriculum.