Northern Counties School

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About Northern Counties School

Name Northern Counties School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mr Martin Lonergan
Address Tankerville Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 3BB
Phone Number 01912815821
Phase Special
Type Non-maintained special school
Age Range 3-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 86
Local Authority Newcastle upon Tyne
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Northern Counties School aims to engage, enable and empower pupils. Pupils' educational experiences at this school have been transformed since the previous inspection.

Leaders have considerably raised the ambition and expectations for what pupils with complex special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) can achieve. There is a strong academic focus. Pupils are now accessing qualifications that prepare them well for the future.

This school admits pupils from age three to 19 years. All pupils have an education, health and care plan (EHC plan). Pupils, including post-16 students, follow a pathway curriculum.

Some pupils learn an informal curriculum. Othe...r pupils follow a more formal curriculum that matches parts of the national curriculum. Pupils who are deaf or blind follow adapted versions of the curriculum based on their individual needs.

Pupils behave exceptionally well. They are supported by caring staff. Staff know individual pupils well.

Pupils receive personalised support to progress academically and to prepare them for next steps and adulthood. The school's environment is bright and engaging. It is well resourced.

There are a range of professionals in school to support pupils. These include speech and language therapists and occupational therapists.

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

Leaders have designed an ambitious pathway curriculum.

Each pathway is developed to meet pupils' SEND. The curriculum follows themes. The school has established cross-curricular links that ensure pupils learn about where they live and about British heritage.

Pupils learn in different areas of the school depending on their SEND. This ensures pupils receive the correct support. Lessons have a mix of age groups.

Most staff explain new ideas clearly and use questioning effectively. However, some teachers do not present information clearly or check understanding consistently well.

Leaders prioritise reading and phonics.

All pupils access a specialised phonics programme designed to meet their individual needs, including pupils who are deaf. All staff are well trained in its use. Reading and phonics are part of pupils' daily routines.

Books are generally matched well to pupils' reading ability. Staff model phonics strategies effectively. Books are plentiful around the school.

There are designated spaces for reading in and out of classrooms.

The school's environment is positive and productive. Pupils' behaviour and attitudes are exceptional.

Pupils consistently have positive attitudes to their education. There is an obvious warmth and trust that underpin staff and pupils' relationships. Staff are responsive to pupils' individual needs.

If pupils lose focus, staff support them effectively. Pupils feel safe and happy. They know that staff are on hand to support them if they need help.

As a result, incidents of dysregulated behaviour are rare.Leaders closely track pupils' attendance. Most pupils, including pupils who receive free school meals, attend very well.

The provision for pupils' personal development is exceptional. Pupils' talents and interests are well developed through a wide variety of activities across the school day. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural learning is woven through the curriculum.

Leaders promote theatre as an important cultural experience for all pupils. Frequent theatre visits develop pupils' communication and social interaction. Workshops strengthen pupils' confidence through script writing and performance.

Pupils develop a strong understanding of the protected characteristics. School activities promote diversity and inclusion. For example, a British Sign Language signing group perform in care homes to develop intergenerational understanding.

Some teachers and support staff are deaf. They act as positive role models to pupils. Pupils have a secure understanding of how to keep themselves safe in the community.

They know how to be careful while using technology. Preparation for their next steps and life beyond school is a cornerstone of their school experience. Leaders ensure this is deliberately planned through all aspects of school life.

Leaders promote work experience to ensure pupils build confidence and aspiration. Pupils visit careers fairs and receive guidance about next steps from trained advisers.

Staff feel trusted as professionals.

Leaders ensure the positive well-being of staff. Staff receive ongoing training to improve their classroom practice. Early career teachers feel well supported.

Governors have wide educational experience. They quality assure the school's work through frequent monitoring visits. Governors know that there is a need for greater consistency in teaching and learning.

Trustees visit the school and check aspects of the school's work without notice. They correctly recognise the rapid improvements demonstrated in the school.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Some teachers do not clearly present information and check pupils' understanding as well as they should. This means that there is variability in curriculum delivery in some subject areas. The school should ensure all teaching is of a consistently high quality across all curriculum areas.

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