Marlborough School

Name Marlborough School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 15 January 2020
Address Marlborough Park Avenue, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 9DP
Phone Number 02083006896
Type Special
Age Range 11-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Local Authority Bexley
Percentage Free School Meals 32.1%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No


Marlborough School continues to be a good school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils are happy and well cared for in this friendly and welcoming school. They attend school regularly and enjoy taking part in the many different experiences on offer. These include regular outings and cultural activities. Parents and carers are very positive about how well their children’s individual needs are met.

On both school sites, the atmosphere is calm and purposeful. Adults set clear routines which pupils understand and follow. Pupils behave very well, both in and out of class. Adults deal swiftly with any potential disagreements or issues. Bullying is not an issue here. Exclusions are rare. Ample supervision means that pupils learn and play together harmoniously.

Leaders expect all pupils to achieve their best, both personally and academically. They plan pupils’ learning carefully and ensure that pupils are successful in all areas of school life. In all year groups, pupils study a wide range of subjects. Pupils are prepared well for the next stage of their education or employment.

Adults provide exceptionally well for pupils’ emotional and mental well-being. Staff are skilled in supporting pupils who may be feeling anxious about their learning. Pupils develop positive relationships with adults and each other. This means that pupils are keen to learn and experience all the school has to offer.

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

Leaders and staff are ambitious for all pupils. They work together well to provide pupils with a safe and stimulating learning environment.

Leaders are determined that pupils will be as independent as possible. Pupils benefit from well-planned opportunities to develop important life skills. Each pupil is supported to grow in confidence and take part in the wider community. For instance, pupils enjoy making and selling products at local markets. These experiences contribute well to thedevelopment of pupils’ social and communication skills. Leaders have high expectations of sixth-form students. The curriculum meets students’ needs very well. Students take part in work experience and learn key skills that they will need in adult life. Staff support students to make well-informed decisions about their options after leaving school.

All pupils study a broad range of subjects. Topics are ambitious and inspire pupils’ interest in learning. Within each topic, planning identifies how pupils should develop their understanding of important ideas. In a small number of subjects, long-term goals for pupils’ learning are not clearly defined. In physical education (PE) for instance, staff know what they should teach within each topic. However, leaders have not fully considered how these topics support pupils’ readiness for their future learning. Leaders are currently strengthening subject planning to address this shortcoming.

Staff have an in-depth understanding of pupils’ needs. They plan experiences that build on what pupils already know or can do. Teachers select activities which help pupils to understand what they are taught. For instance, pupils benefit from opportunities to use their senses to discover new concepts. Pupils also have many opportunities to apply their knowledge in different contexts. Examples include working in the school café and taking part in dance workshops.

Communication is the cornerstone of the school’s work. As soon as pupils arrive each morning, staff encourage them to make choices and share their views. This continues throughout the school day. Communication methods are personalised to each pupil. Pupils use photographs, signs, technology or words to communicate their thoughts and ideas. We saw pupils using ‘eye-gaze’ technology, touch and images to make meaningful decisions about their learning. We saw others using pictures to choose what they wanted to eat at snack time.

The teaching of reading is also a clear priority. Pupils develop a love of reading by listening to lots of different types of stories, songs and rhymes. When appropriate, staff ensure that pupils develop the phonics knowledge they need to read independently.

Pupils focus on their work because staff manage behaviour skilfully. Adults use consistent strategies to promote positive behaviour. As a result, pupils understand what is expected of them. If pupils become anxious, staff help them to feel secure. This means that the learning of others is rarely disrupted. Leaders model the behaviour they expect from staff, and staff replicate this. Adults speak to pupils sensitively and calmly. Staff encourage pupils to recognise for themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed. They support pupils to manage their feelings. For instance, pupils can choose to take a short break from classroom activities if they need to. Staff supervise pupils carefully at all times and make sure that they are safe.

Leaders are conscious of the workload demands on staff. They check on staff well-being and act on the feedback they receive. Staff value this and said it makes them feel that their views are heard.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

The culture of safeguarding is consistent with the caring ethos of the school. Leaders’ records of the checks they carry out on adults who work in the school are comprehensive.

Governors and leaders have ensured that all safeguarding arrangements are fit for purpose. Staff receive regular training on safeguarding. They know how to help pupils and how to keep them safe. When concerns arise, leaders act promptly to secure pupils’ welfare. They work with a range of external agencies to get pupils the help and support they need.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

In most subjects, planning for each topic identifies exactly what pupils should learn and when. These plans focus on supporting pupils to make small but important gains in their knowledge and skills. However, in a few subjects, such as PE, planning does not set out precisely which knowledge and skills pupils should gain as they progress through the school. Leaders should strengthen subject planning so that staff teach and revisit the content pupils will need to achieve leaders’ long-term curricular goals.


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 is the second section 8 inspection since we judged Marlborough School to be good on 23–24 January 2013.