Physis Academy

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About Physis Academy

Name Physis Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Mr Craig Seretny
Address Heathgates Farm, Prees, WHITCHURCH, SY13 2AJ
Phone Number 01948841070
Phase Independent (special)
Type Other independent special school
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character None
Gender Girls
Number of Pupils 4 (100% girls)
Local Authority Shropshire

What is it like to attend this school?

This school is a safe haven for pupils and offers them a fresh start after challenges in previous settings. Pupils learn to value the importance of education. With good support, they work towards achieving their personal goals. They acquire the skills to become more independent and make healthy choices. The school provides pupils with hope and alternative pathways to succeed. Pupils show enjoyment in their studies. A wide range of learning opportunities capture pupils’ interests. Pupils are exceptionally well cared for. The blend of high-quality care and a good education enables pupils to do well.

There is a warm, nurturing atmosphere around the school. Pupils usually get along well together. They know what is expected of them and get on with their work. Most of the time, pupils behave very well. They form positive friendships and learn to start trusting again. Rarely does a pupil’s negative behaviour affect others. This is because teachers understand pupils’ behaviour and manage it well. The school’s response to any reports of bullying is excellent. It is not tolerated. Teachers take time to explore the issues with the pupils involved. Pupils undertake mediation work to try to repair relationships.

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

The school offers a broad and rich curriculum, including provision for post-16 students. This is tailored to the specific needs of each pupil. Teachers’ expectations of pupils are high. The longer pupils stay at the school, the better they achieve. Pupils often have large gaps in their learning when they first arrive. Teachers identify what pupils have learned in the past. They rapidly begin addressing any gaps in knowledge. Sometimes, teachers support pupils to continue with coursework started in a previous setting. Teachers adapt their teaching to best meet the needs of all pupils. This includes those pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Teachers usually know their subjects well. They use their expertise to provide high-quality learning experiences. Teachers organise the curriculum so that pupils build on what they have learned before. For example, pupils develop their skills in art and become more sophisticated using different techniques. They have produced some fantastic pieces of art work as a result. However, sometimes literacy skills in other curriculum subjects are not planned as well as they could be.

During lessons, teachers listen carefully to pupils’ responses. They interject, explain and ask challenging questions. This enables pupils to deepen and develop their understanding. Occassionally, non-specialist teachers do not have the subject knowledge to set the most challenging curriculum goals. However, the headteacher’s drive to ensure that teachers are qualified subject specialists is helping to sort this out.

A therapeutic approach underpins the curriculum and the way staff teach. This helps pupils who are vulnerable overcome their barriers to learning. Teachers encourage pupils to adopt the right mindset to learn. This helps them cope better when they face more difficult work. The school enters pupils for a range of qualifications. In the past, these had sometimes not been demanding enough. But recently this has changed, and more pupils are now entered for GCSE examinations. They are working well towards achieving their qualifications.

Pupils behave well in lessons and during breaktimes. They are usually respectful towards one another and staff. There is a real sense of positivity around the school. Staff have created an environment where working hard is the expected norm. Pupils’ attitudes to learning are almost always positive. Poor behaviour, including bullying, is not tolerated. Teachers manage pupils’ behaviour consistently. For this reason, issues with behaviour rarely escalate. Most pupils start at the school with a history of very low attendance. However, their attendance usually improves dramatically in a short period of time.

Support for pupils’ personal development is excellent and integral to the school’s work. Teachers make pupils’ mental well-being a top priority. Staff work hard to counter the effects of pupils’ past negative experiences. The work on dealing with trauma is a unique aspect of the school’s offer. Gradually, pupils begin to restore their self-belief and develop their self-esteem. Over time, pupils grow in confidence and become more resilient. They start to take greater responsibility for their actions. An extensive range of special events and trips help pupils develop valuable life skills.

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is an essential element of the curriculum. Pupils cover topics that teach them how to make sensible choices about their lifestyles. They discuss why laws are important and learn about democratic processes. A well-thought-out careers programme prepares pupils for their next steps in education or employment and training. They benefit from work experience and personal action planning. Because this aspect of the school’s work is strong, pupils are aspirational about their futures.

The headteacher leads the school very well. She has high expectations of herself and the staff. The headteacher, along with the proprietor and governors, shows drive and ambition. Staff know they are trusted to make decisions and be innovative. The proprietor maintains a good oversight of the school’s work. He supports the headteacher effectively. She is also challenged by governors on the school’s performance. The school meets all of the independent school standards and relevant statutory requirements. The school has a safeguarding policy that is made available to parents and carers on request. It takes into account the latest government requirements. The school has a current accessibility plan. It complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

The school is currently registered with the Department for Education (DfE) for both boys and girls. However, the school intends to contact the DfE imminently to request that the school be girls only. The independent school standards would still be met if the DfE agreed to this change.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

There is an exceptionally strong culture of safeguarding. Pupils are safe and feel safe. Pupils learn about how to keep safe through PSHE lessons, assemblies and the quantum LEAP programme. They are taught about the aspects of personal safety that really matter to them. This helps them to recognise risks in and out of the school and when using social media.

Teachers act fast when they have a concern about a pupil. They take the right course of action to get the support a pupil needs. Leaders work expertly with other agencies to get the best support for pupils.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

Occasionally, non-specialist teachers do not have enough specialist-subject knowledge to set challenging curriculum goals. This means that they are sometimes less clear about what is expected of pupils to enable them to achieve the highest standards. Leaders have already started to address this by providing training for non-specialists. Leaders need to ensure that all teachers receive training in subjects they teach so they have the prerequisite knowledge to plan and deliver lessons that demand the most of pupils. . Leaders, rightly, prioritise the development of pupils’ literacy skills across the curriculum. However, the teaching of these skills in other subjects does not always align well with what they have learned in English lessons. This means that pupils are not always able to apply their literacy skills easily. Leaders need to ensure that literacy skills are carefully mapped alongside the English curriculum to enable pupils to apply previously learned skills more easily in other curriculum subjects.

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