Phoenix Bay School

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About Phoenix Bay School

Name Phoenix Bay School
Ofsted Inspections
Principal Ross Banks
Address The Pavillion, 3 Seale Hayne, Torquay, TQ12 6NQ
Phone Number 01803220750
Phase Independent (special)
Type Other independent special school
Age Range 5-16
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 9
Local Authority Devon

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils enjoy coming to school. Parents are overwhelmingly positive about the nurture and individualised support their child receives. They say their children settle quickly and praise the school for helping their children re-engage with learning. However, the proprietor, who is also the headteacher, has not carried out statutory safeguarding duties effectively. This potentially puts pupils at risk.

The school provides support for pupils with social and emotional needs, all of whom have experienced significant trauma. All pupils have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Many have struggled to learn in other settings. Some subjects within the curriculum are not designed well. This means that pupils do not build their knowledge over time.

Staff have created a welcoming learning environment. They have high expectations of how they want pupils to behave. Pupils appreciate the rewards through the ‘ping ping’ system. They say the best thing in school is ‘the adults, as they are all supportive and caring’. Pupils say that bullying does not happen.

Pupils talk clearly about how to keep physically and mentally healthy, including healthy eating. They know that everyone should be treated equally and with respect. However, pupils’ understanding of different cultures and religions is less well developed.

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

The proprietor has not ensured that important safeguarding requirements are followed. For example, there is no admissions register. This is a legal requirement. Leaders have not considered in enough detail pupils’ safety both on and off site. Pupils’ individual risk assessments are poor. As a result, the proprietor fails to meet parts 3 and 8 of the independent school standards.

Leaders are ambitious about what they want pupils to know as part of their ‘big picture’ vision for the curriculum, including vocational education. Pupils receive relevant careers advice. This supports their understanding of the world of work and ensures they are well prepared for the next stage of their education. However, this is in its early stages of implementation.

Leaders understand the importance of all pupils learning to read fluently. Pupils who still require phonics support follow a systematic programme. Staff provide relevant support for those who struggle. Despite this, leaders recognise there is still more to do. They have started to develop pupils’ love of reading. However, leaders and staff have not yet found ways to promote reading for pleasure for some pupils.

In mathematics, teachers have designed sequences of learning in place to develop pupils’ knowledge. There are plans in place to strengthen the curriculum further. Appropriate resources to support pupils’ understanding of new concepts are readily available. However, staff have not assessed some pupils’ mathematical needs accurately. As a result, learning does not consistently build on what they know and can do. This delays them from moving through the mathematics curriculum as quickly as they should, in order to catch up.

In some subjects, such as computing and English, leaders have crafted an appropriately sequenced curriculum. Staff adapt learning effectively to meet the needs of individual pupils. However, some subjects within the wider curriculum are still developing. For example, in geography, the knowledge staff want pupils to know is not explicit enough. Leaders have not identified the smaller steps needed to meet individual needs. This means pupils do not learn as well as they could.

Pupils show positive behaviours and attitudes in school. They appreciate their social interactions with staff and other pupils throughout the school day. For example, all staff and pupils interact and share lunch together. The key-worker system and high staffing ratio ensure that time can be given to pupils’ personal and emotional support. Pupil attitudes are less strong when the planned curriculum is not as engaging. They say at times, in some subjects, including reading and science, lessons can be boring.

The personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum enables pupils to think about and discuss their place in society. Weekly themes promote pupils’ understanding of the wider community. These have included Black History Month, mental health and well-being, and their thoughts around the Holocaust. However, pupils’ understanding of different religions, cultures and fundamental British values is less developed. As a result, they do not always see how these impact on them within today’s society.

The proprietor has recently set up a governance advisory board. Members are gaining an understanding of the work of the school, but support and challenge to leaders are in the early stages of implementation. There is not yet an effective systematic cycle of monitoring to quality assure the provision. This includes checks on meeting the independent school standards. The school meets the requirements of schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

Staff, including those new to the school, receive appropriate and personalised support from school leaders. They appreciate leaders’ concerns for their well-being and workload. Relationships in the school are extremely positive. Staff say they feel part of a team, and all are supportive of each other.


The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

The proprietor does not have sufficient oversight of the statutory requirements in relation to safeguarding. For example, appropriate risk assessments are not in place for pupils with medical needs. As a result, this could place children at risk.

The proprietor has ensured that the register of checks made on the suitability of staff is carried out appropriately. Staff understand how to spot and record signs of concern. They know these will be taken seriously. Staff understand the risks pupils face within the local community. Pupils are taught how to stay safe and can talk about issues that might affect them.

Relevant safeguarding policies are on the school website for parents.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

? As a matter of urgency, the proprietor and advisory governing board must ensure the well-being and safety of pupils by ensuring that: - an accurate admissions register is drawn up and maintained in line with legislation. - relevant risk assessments in relation to the safety of individual pupils on and off site are robust and detailed including for those pupils with medical needs. ? The proprietor does not demonstrate the required knowledge appropriate to their role. This means that not all of the independent school standards are met. Leaders must take action to ensure all independent school standards are met consistently. ? In some subjects, leaders have not planned the content and sequence of the curriculum explicitly enough. As a result, pupils do not build their knowledge incrementally. Leaders should ensure that the curriculum in each subject is ambitious, well sequenced and identifies the important knowledge so pupils learn well over time. ? Leaders have not created a strong culture of reading for pleasure. As a result, most pupils are disinterested in reading. All staff need to ensure they expose pupils to a range of appropriate texts and read often and widely to and with pupils. ? The curriculum for personal development is not designed well enough to support pupils’ understanding of religious beliefs, cultures and fundamental British values. As a result, pupils are not as well prepared for some aspects of life in modern Britain. Leaders must ensure that all provision for personal development enables pupils to develop a secure understanding of modern society.

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