Merstone School

Name Merstone School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Address Windward Way, Smith’s Wood, Birmingham, B36 0UE
Phone Number 01217171040
Type Special
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 118 (73.7% boys 26.3% girls)
Local Authority Solihull
Percentage Free School Meals 44.4%
Percentage English is Not First Language 6.2%
Persistent Absence 16.5%
Pupils with SEN Support 12.4%
Catchment Area Indicator Available No
Last Distance Offered Available No
Highlights from Latest Full Inspection (04 February 2014)
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Information about this school

Merstone is a special school for pupils with severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties. About a third have severe medical needs and an increasing number have autistic spectrum disorders and/or behavioural, social and emotional difficulties. All the pupils have a statement of special educational needs. The large majority of pupils are of White British heritage. The rest of the pupils come from a wide range of European and Asian backgrounds, and a high proportion of these speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils eligible for the pupil premium is significantly above the national average. This additional government funding is provided to support pupils who are known to be eligible for free school meals and children looked after by the local authority. The Early Years Foundation Stage provision includes a child assessment unit for up to 20 children. These children are in the process of being assessed for a statement of special educational needs and often move on to mainstream or other special schools. The school was awarded specialist schools status (for communication and interaction) in September 2010 and maintains this status. It also has a number of other prestigious awards. The school shares its building with another special school, Forest Oak. The two schools form a federation and have the same Principal and governing body. They also share some specialist staff and resources. Smith’s Wood Sports College, a mainstream school, is also on the same site. The school works closely with UNITY: a collaboration of mainstream and other special schools.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. All groups of pupils achieve exceptionally well throughout the school because staff tailor activities to their widely differing needs. The staff work exceptionally well together. They are highly experienced and have a deep understanding of pupils’ individual needs. As a result, all the pupils make rapid progress and thrive. Teaching is excellent because all the teachers are continually extending their understanding and skills through training. The experienced governing body supports the school’s work and challenges senior leaders to improve it even more. Governors question leaders carefully about how they are improving teaching and raising pupils’ achievement. The headteacher and her very strong leadership team are never content but are constantly striving to develop the school further. Pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties achieve exceptionally well but the school’s assessment does not always show how much progress they have made within levels. The sixth form is outstanding. Students achieve extremely well because of the many opportunities they have to become more independent. They are proud of everything they achieve and they are very well prepared for the next stage in their lives. Behaviour and safety are excellent. Given their starting points, pupils develop very high levels of confidence, learn to take initiative and make their own choices. Relationships throughout the school are excellent.