Mill Cottage Montessori School

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Mill Cottage Montessori School


Name Mill Cottage Montessori School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Requires improvement
Inspection Date 03 December 2019
Address Wakefield Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6 4HA
Phone Number 01484400500
Type Independent
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 103 (59% boys 41% girls)
Local Authority Calderdale
Percentage Free School Meals 0.0%
Pupils with SEN Support 4%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

What is it like to attend this school?

The happy smiles on children’s faces reflect the enjoyment children gain from attending school. Pupils behave well in class and enjoy learning in a variety of different ways, for example learning how to tie up a hammock, build a fire in forest school, or learning new yoga positions in class.

The school follows the Montessori curriculum. Often learning starts with an idea or a question from a pupil which leads the class on a journey of discovery. For example, pupils asked questions about the stars which led them to look at planets, the solar system and our galaxy.

Staff have high expectations of all pupils. Most of the time, teachers make sure the curriculum is right for every child. They also check how much pupils have remembered from the curriculum they have already covered. However, sometimes this does not happen and pupils do not learn and remember as much they could.Older pupils understand what bullying means. They told us that it does not happen in school because everyone cares about each other. School records show bullying is very rare.

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

While the school follows a Montessori curriculum, leaders have ensured that links with the national curriculum and the early years foundation stage remain. This is evident in leaders’ intentions for the school. Children thrive in the early years, gaining skills and understanding because teachers plan learning well. Extending children’s vocabulary is a key focus in the curriculum. Children are encouraged to talk about how they feel. For example, in cultural studies children were asked how the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl made them feel. Comments included: ‘It makes me feel quiet on the inside.’

The curriculum in the early years is built logically and is carefully crafted around children’s needs. Physical education (PE) is taught through a range of different experiences including forest school as well as using the outdoor stage to exercise with music.

Phonics teaching is through the Montessori approach. This approach supports children and pupils to make the required progress to become confident and fluent readers.

The school has a small number of older pupils, many of whom are home educated but attend the school part time. The curriculum for these pupils is not always well planned to meet their needs. For example, some books show that these pupils are not accessing the curriculum they need to learn more and remember more. This will not give them a secure basis to build on when they transfer to their next school.

The school ethos is welcoming to everyone. The curriculum meets the needs of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities effectively, particularly those in the early years. Parents feel school leaders make their children very welcome. They particularly value the headteacher’s support in helping them to deal with other agencies.

Pupils and children told us that they enjoy coming to school. Their behaviour inside the classroom reflected this, as most listened and joined in lessons. Outside the classroom, pupils played together well, particularly when enjoying the imaginatively designed play area complete with real boat and roadway.

Relationships between pupils and staff are strong. This is reflected in high attendance levels and pupils’ confidence that bullying is very rare and quickly dealt with.

Pupils learn to be resilient, brave and fearless in forest school. All are keen to make dens and put up hammocks. Many enjoy finding out about the natural world within the school grounds. Yoga sessions help children to become reflective and calm in mind and body as well as offering an opportunity to improve their core muscles.These activities improve pupils’ personal development as well as their spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding.

Leaders and proprietors have not ensured that all of the independent standards have been met. The complaints policy does not make sure that copies of the findings are made available to the complainant and where necessary the person complained about.

The quality of the curriculum is not well planned for the small number of part-time older pupils. Work in books shows that this has been a problem since the beginning of term and pupils are now lagging behind in English and mathematics. Leaders have been slow to recognise and bring about improvement in this regard. Leaders have also been slow to check on teachers’ assessments, which do not always appear to be accurate.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

The school’s safeguarding policy makes reference to the 2019 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education. Leaders ensure that the system in place to store confidential files is secure. Staff have received regular safeguarding updates and training. As a result, staff are clear about the procedure for making a referral should they have concerns about a pupil. The school keeps a register of safeguarding checks carried out on staff which is compliant with current requirements. Staff are recruited safely.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

The curriculum delivered to the small number of older part-time pupils does not reflect leaders’ intent as clearly as that for younger children. Leaders have in the past monitored the curriculum very closely. However, due to a number of recent challenges faced by the leadership team, the level of monitoring has been reduced. Consequently, issues in the curriculum for older pupils have not been picked up in the way they have previously. Leaders are aware that monitoring must now be sharpened up and that a more focused approach is needed to ensure that the implementation and subsequent impact on pupils’ learning are regularly checked. . The complaints policy needs to be amended so that the complainant and, where appropriate, the person complained about receive a copy of the panel findings.