Lonsdale School

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About Lonsdale School

Name Lonsdale School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Claudia Thiele
Address Brittain Way, Stevenage, SG2 8UT
Phone Number 01438726999
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 3-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 112
Local Authority Hertfordshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection


Lonsdale School continues to be a good school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils tell us they are really proud of their school. They feel safe, happy and accepted for who they are.

They feel that they are seen as young people, not just children with sometimes complex physical or neurological disabilities. As one pupil stated: 'It's a good place in general, quite unique, works slightly differently and takes on board learning ability not just physical disability.'

Pupils enjoy the additional opportunities the school offers them.

This has included residential visits abroad, working towards schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award up to Gold level an...d activities such as theatre trips and skiing.

Pupils are secure in feeling safe and how to keep themselves safe. They enjoy the responsibilities of being anti-bullying ambassadors and members of the school well-being group.

They want everyone to have a friend or someone to talk to.

The behaviour of pupils is generally very good, and they settle well into the expectations of the school. Pupils of all ages stated that they had no concerns about bullying and knew what to do if they felt worried.

Those with the most complex needs, who need assistive technology to voice their views, feel well supported and able to join in and reach their highest achievements.

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

Leaders and staff have an ambitious vision for what pupils should achieve. The headteacher and leaders at all levels are passionate and driven about ensuring that the best is given to pupils to enable them to succeed.

This includes negotiating with exam boards to enable access to external qualifications through the use of technology.

The school want to give pupils every chance to do well and continue their education when they leave the school. They provide a bright, nurturing environment that works in partnership with other professionals.

Health staff, such as physio/occupational/speech and language therapists and nurses, complement the educational team. This helps the pupils to access learning in the classrooms in a positive way.

The small number of pupils in the early years and foundation group are settled into the school well.

The improved outdoor learning space allows pupils to develop pre- and early learning skills in a structured environment and allows them to feel a part of the school.

In the primary department, pupils enjoy their topic-based lessons, which allow them to make some connections in their learning. The class teachers have good relationships with the pupils and know them very well.

Staff manage pupils' physical care needs well and ensure that they are positioned correctly so that they can access learning activities promptly.

The library area is bright and welcoming, and pupils enjoy sitting in groups and looking at books at lunch and breaktime. Pupils begin to develop a love of reading and gain confidence as they move through the school.

The use of visual resources, symbols and technology enhances their access to stories and literature.

Students in the sixth form are well prepared for leaving school. They feel confident and ready for their next steps into further education.

Regular visits to other colleges alongside their bespoke transition programme helps them succeed.

Pupils want to learn. Staff regularly check the small steps in pupils' learning in English and communication, mathematics, science and personal development well.

Pupils' progress is monitored through their overall learning plans, which tie in and update their education, health and care (EHC) plans. Pupils, parents and school staff all contribute fully so that each pupil's plan reflects their current needs.

Leaders plan sequenced steps of learning in most subjects well.

However, in some subjects the concepts are not as connected as well as they could be. This is especially evident with the development of reading and phonics. The teaching and oversight of reading development has not been as securely sequenced and systematically monitored as it needs to be.

The curriculum remains broad with a topic-based approach, through the access to the range of extra-curricular activities during the school day and with the variety of residential activities. The end goal for all pupils is to enable them to move towards independence in the next stage of their education. The use of the on-site residential facility (inspected recently by social care) provides an excellent chance for pupils to develop their independence skills further in a supportive environment.

This is accessed by a number of pupils throughout their time in the school.

Governors are very supportive and have been involved in reviewing aspects of the school's provision. There is a good mixture of highly skilled governors who are fully involved in the life of the school.

They provide positive role models for the pupils. However, they have yet to consider the effectiveness of all aspects of the curriculum, especially systematic reading development.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

There is a strong culture of keeping pupils safe at all levels. Pupils feel safe and recognise how to keep themselves safe. Procedures with transport for those who travel some distance and arrive at different times before and after school are clear and safe.

At lunch and breaktimes, pupils are encouraged to be with their friends. They are supervised, but able to make choices for themselves about what activities to take part in.

Clear systems are in place to identify any issues pupils may have.

Pupils are supported to manage themselves as well as knowing how others can help them if needed. Staff work with a range of external agencies to get pupils the help and support they need.

Staff are trained appropriately in safeguarding.

This is led by a member of the senior leadership team, who coordinates pupil support systems well. All staff are clear on what to do if they were worried about a pupil. Senior staff are always available to deal with any issues regarding child protection.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

There is not enough consistency in how the teaching of reading is sequenced throughout the school. Leadership of this area needs to develop all teachers' knowledge and understanding of the systematic teaching of reading to ensure that opportunities are made to develop reading in all its aspects. .

Senior leaders have begun a change in the middle leadership structure of the school. This review needs completing to ensure that all major areas of the curriculum have leaders whose roles and responsibilities in the monitoring and improvement of subjects are clear. .

Governors do not yet have a full understanding of the whole school curriculum. They need to understand further the way it is implemented and connected across the school at all ages and stages so that they can challenge the school effectively about the impact on pupils' progress.


When we have judged a school to be good we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains good.

This is called a section 8 inspection of a good school or non-exempt outstanding school. We do not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection. However, if we find some evidence that the school could now be better than good or that standards may be declining, then the next inspection will be a section 5 inspection.

Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the section 8 inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will convert the section 8 inspection to a section 5 inspection immediately.

This a section 8 inspection after we judged Lonsdale School to be good on 26–27 January 2016 during a section 5 inspection.

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