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Pupils at Penn Fields School develop trusting and positive relationships with staff and each other. Staff are caring, kind and supportive. They take the time to get to know pupils well.
Smiles and warm greetings are commonplace. This helps pupils to enjoy school. They attend regularly.
Staff work alongside parents and carers well from the outset to get to know pupils' individual learning, physical, sensory and communication needs. Staff use this information carefully to remove barriers to learning and enable pupils to achieve.
Leaders want all pupils to achieve their very best.
They pay attention to developing pupils' independence and preparing them ...for their next stages of their life and education. As part of this work, pupils participate in a range of activities outside of the classroom. These activities include taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, residential trips and running the coffee shop.
Respectful and kind relationships underpin all that is good at Penn Fields. Bullying is rare and staff help pupils to resolve any concerns that may arise. This helps pupils to feel safe.
Pupils in most lessons settle quickly to their work. Very little time is wasted.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders are ambitious for pupils.
Leaders, including governors, have taken effective steps to improve the quality of education at the school over recent years. Staff are proud to work at the school. They appreciate the support that school leaders give them.
Staff say that leaders care about their well-being and are considerate of their workload.
Leaders have established a high expectation for what pupils should learn and when they should learn it. They make sure that all pupils learn a broad range of subjects.
Most pupils learn these subjects in depth. For example, in art and design, pupils learn about local artists and visit a local art gallery. This helps pupils to develop a love of art and design and to see connections with the world of work.
Subject leaders make sure that most pupils learn the right things in the right order. For example, in mathematics, teachers make sure that pupils know how to use money before introducing the idea of budgeting. In most subjects, leaders have ensured that teachers know the precise knowledge that pupils need to know and remember.
However, this is not the case for some pupils with the most complex needs. Activities are not always well matched to their needs. This slows their learning and stops them from reaching their full potential.
For example, in writing, some teachers are not as skilful in teaching the small steps that pupils need to move from mark making to accurate letter formation.
Pupils have a wide range of special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) which can make learning difficult. Teachers work with parents and carers to get an accurate understanding of pupils' needs.
From this, the right provision is put in place to support the communication, learning, sensory or health needs of the pupils. For example, teachers work closely with speech and language therapists to adapt lessons to make them more understandable for pupils.
Leaders promote reading well.
Leaders make regular checks on pupils' phonics knowledge. They use these checks to identify pupils who are not keeping up with the school's reading programme. Leaders make sure that these pupils get the help they need from well-trained adults.
In addition, pupils get ample practice at reading books that are well matched to their stage of learning. In almost all areas of the school, including social areas, pupils have access to a wide variety of interesting books and texts. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about story time and the books they have read.
Students in the sixth form gain qualifications in English and mathematics. They also study a wide range of courses which include animal care, mechanics, food technology, carpentry, horticulture, and hair and beauty. Students benefit from quality and timely careers advice.
This means that most pupils have a clear idea of what they would like to do in the future. In addition, this support means that students are actively developing the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.
The school environment is calm and orderly.
During break and lunchtimes, pupils socialise together well. For some pupils, their SEND mean that sometimes they find it hard to manage their behaviour. Adults help these pupils well through the delivery of well-thought-out therapeutic approaches.
Some pupils, for example, relish the opportunity to care for the school's chickens. This allows pupils to remain settled and focused throughout the day.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders and staff understand that pupils with SEND often have significant and complex vulnerabilities. As a result, staff receive regular training to keep pupils safe. They ensure that they know their pupils well, so that they can spot when anything may be wrong or is worrying to the pupil.
There are good links between the school's welfare team and the pupils' families. Staff understand their responsibility to report any concern. Concerns are recorded and followed up with the appropriate agencies when needed.
Leaders have appropriate procedures in place to manage any allegations.
Pupils learn about personal safety in the curriculum as well as keeping safe online.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• For some pupils with the most complex needs, teachers are not sufficiently clear about the small steps pupils need to learn.
This means that teachers do not consistently provide pupils with the activities and help they need to build their knowledge over time. This limits pupils' progress. Leaders should ensure that teachers have a clear understanding of the smaller steps of knowledge pupils need to secure, to enable pupils to get the best outcomes from the curriculum.
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