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Pupils are valued as individuals. Staff encourage them to aim high.
By the time they leave, pupils gain a good grounding in English, mathematics, science and vocational subjects. This helps them to succeed in their next steps. However, their knowledge in some academic subjects, such as history and geography, is not as well developed.
Staff are attuned to the specific learning needs of each pupil. They go the 'extra mile' to meet these needs. One parent echoed the views of many, commenting, 'I feel like since my child has gone to Mo Mowlam, he has come on leaps and bounds.'
Pupils are safe in school. They feel secure around the school site. The atmo...sphere in school is generally positive.
The effective careers programme enables pupils to gradually build confidence. For example, pupils make several visits to colleges in the local area. Younger pupils benefit from the individual support they receive, which includes working with staff in the 'sensory room'.
There is little bullying in school. Staff are alert to how pupils relate to each other. They are on hand to assist pupils if they are struggling to socialise positively.
Sometimes, pupils are intimidated by the language used by other pupils.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The education and nurture that the school provides for its pupils has a positive impact on them. In 2021, all pupils leaving in Year 11 progressed to education, training or employment.
The curriculum is generally strong and ambitious. In key stage 4, it includes some GCSE-level qualifications and carefully chosen vocational qualifications. Leaders have made sure that in key stages 2 and 3, pupils study a broad range of subjects.
Pupils deepen their subject-specific knowledge and skills in English, mathematics and science. For example, in science they gain the knowledge that they need to carry out scientific enquiries. In English, the curriculum ensures that pupils embed key grammatical knowledge.
Pupils revisit important knowledge about sentence construction. This means that they can use complex sentences in their own writing. The curriculum in mathematics, science and English is better developed than the curriculum in some non-core subjects.
Developments in these subjects have been hindered by COVID-19 working restrictions.
Leaders have put a well-planned phonics programme in place for pupils who need to learn the sounds that letters make. The majority of these pupils are in key stage 2.
Any older pupils who need assistance in learning to read receive effective help. Books used for pupils to practise their reading are closely matched to their capabilities in phonics.
The assessments that pupils take when they join the school provide teachers with useful information.
Teachers use this information to adapt their teaching so that it better meets pupils' individual requirements. Teachers use information from termly assessments to track pupils' progress towards targets. In secondary, these are GCSE targets, and in primary, they are end-of-key stage 2 targets.
This approach is problematic. It does not support pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to remember subject content in the long term.
Staff feel tremendously well supported by senior leaders and the principal.
Leaders ensure that staff have the expertise they need to assist pupils with behavioural needs. As a result, the atmosphere in school is generally calm. On occasions when some pupils' emotions get the better of them, the behaviour support team work well with these pupils.
This minimises the amount of class-time that they miss.
There is a well-planned programme of study focused on pupils' personal development. The programme includes spiritual, moral, social and cultural education.
For instance, pupils raise funds for charities. Pupils learn the importance of kindness and other positive attributes. Pupils do not understand how their verbal communication can have positive and negative effects on others.
The school is well supported by leaders from the multi-academy trust (MAT). Subject leaders from other schools in the MAT are assisting senior leaders in developing the curriculum in some subjects. They are also helping to strengthen subject leadership in subjects where this is less well developed.
MAT Leaders and trustees have high standards. They thoughtfully evaluate how well the school is meeting these standards.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders, including MAT leaders, insist that safeguarding is given top priority. The designated safeguarding lead (DSL) has excellent knowledge about every pupil's individual circumstance. She uses her expertise to ensure that any referrals to the local authority are detailed.
She carefully checks that pupils receive the support they need from welfare services.
The DSL and other leaders keep very close tabs on the safety and well-being of pupils who do not attend school. They make home visits to pupils whose attendance is low and carefully check the safety of pupils who attend alternative provision.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• The school's curriculum is not yet sufficiently well planned or sequenced in some subjects. However, it is clear that leaders have already taken action to plan next year's curriculum and to train staff in how to deliver it. For this reason, the transitional arrangements have been applied.
Termly assessments used to track pupils' progress towards target grades do not assist pupils in remembering subject-specific knowledge. They are also not suitable for pupils with SEND because they do not accurately assess whether pupils have learned the content of the taught curriculum. Leaders should develop current approaches to summative assessment and progress tracking.
New approaches need to reliably show whether pupils have embedded subject-specific knowledge in their long-term memories. This would better support pupils with SEND in making progress. It would also assist leaders and teachers in evaluating whether the curriculum is having the intended impact.
• Some pupils use derogatory language, which makes a number of pupils feel uncomfortable and anxious. Pupils with leadership roles do not always model positive communication to their peers. This means that that they do not make a strong positive difference to the pupil community.
Leaders need to ensure that pupils better understand the effect that their language can have on others. This would have a positive impact on the pupils around them. Pupils with leadership roles need better training in communication, enabling them to become more effective role models for their peers and younger pupils.
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