|Name||Nexus Foundation Special School|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Requires improvement|
|Address||Upper Haysden Lane, Tonbridge, TN11 8AA|
|Religious Character||Does Not Apply|
|Number of Pupils||197 (75.1% boys 24.9% girls)|
|Percentage Free School Meals||25.6%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||9%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||7.9%|
|Catchment Area Indicator Available||No|
|Last Distance Offered Available||No|
Highlights from Latest Full Inspection (11 September 2019)
There may have been more recent inspections such as monitoring visits or short inspections. For details of all inspections, please view this provider on our map here.
What is it like to attend this school?
Pupils like this school because staff know them well. Adults make sure pupils are happy, well looked after and safe. Pupils feel safe in the school because they know the staff will look after them. The pupils really like the new building. They especially like the hydrotherapy pool, soft playrooms and outside play areas. Students in the sixth form particularly enjoy cooking their own lunch in the life skills house.
Pupils behave well. They know some of their friends find it hard to behave because of their disabilities. They are proud of the ways they work together to support each other. One pupil said, ‘We can help each other.’ Pupils know that if they are struggling to manage their behaviour, then the staff will support them. This means if they have a problem, then they are helped to start learning again as soon as possible. Most pupils say there is no bullying. A very few said that there had been a little, but teachers had resolved it.
Leaders have raised expectations and are improving the school. They want all pupils to be successful and well prepared for the future. Pupils recognise the value of attending school and want to come. Older pupils enjoy college placements and internships.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
While the school is improving, it is still not providing a good quality of education. This is because there is more work to do to improve the curriculum. The introduction of new ‘learning pathways’ is a positive start because they match the pupils’ needs and abilities. Despite leaders’ ambitious intentions, some curriculum plans are at an early stage or lack detail. Leaders have improved attendance, behaviour, medical care and safeguarding procedures. This gives inspectors the confidence that the headteacher and his team can make the required improvements.
Teachers do plan effectively for the pupils in their classes to help them learn well. For example, pupils learn to read with accuracy, and the books they read are at the right level. Individual teachers ensure that they teach the mathematics skills relevant to their pupils. Staff help pupils to learn useful life skills. However, these are not planned coherently as part of the personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education programme.
Pupils with additional physical needs have well-thought-out physical development programmes. These are led by well-trained staff. Orthoses and equipment are sourced, fitted and regularly reviewed. Pupils have opportunities to change their position during the day, so they feel more comfortable to take part in lessons.
Staff care for pupils very much and communicate with them successfully as individuals. There is not yet a consistent system of non-verbal communication used across the school. Although some staff are well trained in this area, this is not the case for everyone.
Pupils enjoy school. They say that teachers expect them to work hard, and that they always encourage them to do their best. Pupils appreciate that the school has rules. They know that the rules help keep them safe and help them learn well. Pupils behave well in class, and this allows them to get on well with their learning.
Some parents and carers who met with an inspector said that their children are happy in school. They cannot fault the education and care that the school provides for their children. One parent who responded to Ofsted’s Parent View Survey said, ‘My son feels happy and safe and is well looked after. All of the teachers are kind, caring and attentive.’
Leaders have improved the range of opportunities for pupils in the past year. The school now provides experiences like swimming, horse riding, fishing and shopping. Pupils really enjoy all the activities. Trips out of school have helped the pupils to remember what they have learned and successfully develop their life skills.
Governors work well with other leaders. Together, they have created a safer school, including improving how care plans support pupils.
Like elsewhere in the school, what children learn in the early years is not planned well enough. The early years staff take great care to make sure that the children are well looked after. When an inspector visited the nursery, the new nursery children had settled quickly and were happy to join in with activities. Staff took the time to really understand the children’s needs in their care plans. Some children joined the Reception class from the Nursery already knowing their letter sounds. These children are not introduced to the next sounds that they need in order to learn quickly enough.
Leaders know that last year the sixth-form provision required improvement. The new sixth-form leader has a clear vision for the sixth form, but has not had time to put it in place. Students study life skills at school and in the community. Leaders work with the students to find suitable college places and work experience. They hope that these opportunities will help students to get a place, linked to their interests and needs in the future. This could be further study, training or employment when students leave school.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
All staff know their duties and responsibilities to safeguard the pupils. A comprehensive induction and training programme makes sure all staff know how to keep pupils safe. Staff know the pupils well and refer any concerns they have to the designated safeguarding lead. Leaders follow up any concerns swiftly.
Leaders have worked diligently to ensure that the extra risks around pupils’ medical and special educational needs and/or disabilities are well managed through highly effective care plans.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
While the school is improving, curriculum plans are not yet developed and implemented systematically across the school to help teachers plan a high-quality learning experience for the pupils. Teachers know their pupils well and usually plan appropriate learning for them. However, curriculum plans, including in mathematics and PSHE, do not set out what is taught at each stage of the school. Therefore, teachers do not know what pupils learned before they were in their class or what they will learn next. . Some staff are very well trained, for example in the teaching of early reading or in the use of non-verbal communication techniques. Not all staff who work with pupils have had the same training. Leaders need to ensure that staff receive training so that there is a consistent method of communication throughout the school. Furthermore, some staff would benefit from further training in the teaching of early reading.