Ramsden Hall Academy


Name Ramsden Hall Academy
Website http://www.ramsdenhall.org.uk
Inspections
Ofsted Inspections
Address Heath Road, Ramsden Heath, Billericay, CM11 1HN
Phone Number 01277624580
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 10-16
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Boys
Number of Pupils 92 (100% boys)
Academy Sponsor Parallel Learning Trust
Local Authority Essex
Percentage Free School Meals 54.3%
Percentage English is Not First Language 1.1%
Persistent Absence 68.6%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%%
Highlights from Latest Inspection

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a school that requires improvement The quality of education, behaviour and residential provision are too varied. Pupils' academic achievement is not good enough in Years 6 to 9. Governors do not effectively monitor the impact of the pupil premium funding on improving disadvantaged pupils' attendance and achievement.

Attendance is low and well below national levels. A few pupils use highly derogatory language too freely. This is accepted as the norm.

The school does not meet the national minimum standards for residential special schools. The views of parents are very mixed. Not enough parents understand and support the positive work of the school.
<...br/>Policies and practices regarding pupils' use of mobile phones are very inconsistent. The quality of teaching and learning in geography and history is too variable. Pupils do not make as much progress as they should.

A small number of pupils leave lessons too often and disrupt the learning of others. The school has the following strengths Pupils in key stage 4 gain suitable qualifications and are prepared well for the next stage of their education or employment. The headteacher and other senior leaders have established a strong and supportive ethos.

Pupils behave well in the residential provision. Pupils progress well in design technology, physical education and animal care. Pupils are provided with appropriate careers guidance and information for their next stage.

Staff form positive relationships with pupils. Compliance with national minimum standards for residential special schools The school must take action to meet the requirements of the schedule to The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, the national minimum standards for residential special schools and associated requirements. The details are listed in the full report.

information about the current position of the school. They are aware of the strengths

and weaknesses in the school and are working rapidly to improve the provision. A new manager has recently started managing the residential provision.

New and urgent improvements have been made to the provision within a short amount of time. However, there are still several unmet standards within the residential provision, and the positive impact of these changes has not been realised. Some changes in policies for pupils have not been communicated well to parents, especially regarding pupils' use of mobile phones.

As a result, there is confusion between policy and practice. Information for parents from the website is misleading. Leaders are aware that pupils use their phones during lessons and in the residential provision.

The views of 14 parents who responded either to Ofsted's online questionnaire, Parent View, or directly to Ofsted, together with a further 7 parents who spoke with inspectors are very mixed. Over half of the respondents disagreed that their children are taught well and are kept safe. A very large proportion stated that the school was not well led and managed, and that they would not recommend the school to others.

Some of leaders' changes have not had an impact on raising pupils' achievement and welfare as they have been newly introduced over this year. Early signs are positive. Many pupils are responding well to, and appreciate leaders' positive approach to, behaviour management.

Pupils' education, health and care plans (EHCP) are used to produce pupils' profiles. Teachers complete and regularly review the pupils' profiles and share the information with parents. Leaders' monitoring of the review paperwork is not robust.

Leaders have not analysed cases well enough in order to change and proactively support the small number of pupils who have the highest level of need. Too much behaviour management for these pupils is reactionary and takes up a great deal of daily school life. School leaders state that the longer pupils remain at the school, then the more success staff have with changing deep-seated behaviour issues.

School information from this academic year demonstrates that in Year 11 there are fewer negative behaviour incidents overall. Nearly three quarters of pupils are eligible for help and support through the pupil premium grant. Leaders have not ensured that the record on the website is compliant with current department for education (DFE) guidelines.

No specific barriers to learning have been identified, nor how the allocation and impact of funds help to reduce these barriers for pupils. Disadvantaged pupils attend less well than other pupils, but this aspect is not included within the document. The headteacher and her team are dedicated to providing pupils with the best opportunities.

They know pupils well and communicate a strong desire to prepare all pupils for independent adult life. The school has doubled in size over the previous three years. Staff are highly supportive of the school's ethos.

All staff who responded to their questionnaire are proud to work at the school. They feel supported and well trained. Staff morale is high.

Many staff spoken with have worked at the school for a considerable length of time and are committed and loyal to pupils and leaders. Leaders have thoughtfully considered the curriculum in key stage 4. There is a clear structure of how pupils will choose and gain relevant qualifications.

Pupils leave with a range of City & Guilds, functional skills and GCSE qualifications. Leaders aim for all pupils to go on to further college education or skills training such as apprenticeships. Middle leaders for English and mathematics have a clear overview of the curriculum and a good grasp of the progress pupils make in key stage 4.

Their knowledge and monitoring of the quality of the curriculum in Years 6 to 8 are weak. Consequently, they are unclear how pupils systematically build their knowledge, understanding and skills over key stages 3 and 4 and how gaps, due to previously disrupted learning, are effectively addressed. Senior leaders value the opportunity to work with other similar schools within the Parallel Learning Trust.

There are trust-wide behaviour strategies that have been introduced, and school leaders have been involved in setting up these processes. There is a commitment and positive approach from school leaders to continue to develop and improve the school. Leaders provide well for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural education.

Displays around the school demonstrate that pupils learn about British values. Pupils experience talks from outside speakers or visit different places of worship to help them gain an understanding of other people's views and beliefs. Governance of the school Since opening as an academy and because of significant growth in pupil numbers, difficulties in recruiting governing body members have meant that a great deal of work has fallen on a few committed and skilled people.

Overall governance has been effective, but the very experienced chair of governors acknowledges that, until January 2019, the many shared roles within the governing body have been challenging to manage. Over time, governors have not held leaders precisely to account for the residential provision and for the effective recording and monitoring of pupil premium funding. Governors visit the school regularly.

Documentary evidence demonstrates that governors gather the views of staff and pupils and check the information that leaders provide. Minutes of governors' meetings do not show how effectively this information is then used to challenge leaders or provide for further improvement. Governors are highly supportive of the hard work of staff and leaders.

Governors are dedicated to their roles. They are less clear about the weaknesses and areas for improvement that the school needs to undertake. Safeguarding The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Minimum standards for recruitment are met. The unmet standards identified in the previous residential inspection of March 2018 are also now met. Other checks on the suitability of staff to work with children are compliant.

Where there have been instances of allegations against staff, these have been dealt with correctly and the local authority is involved appropriately. Errors made on the school's recruitment records were easily rectified before the end of the inspection. Staff are well trained, and updates are regularly provided in line with the current government guidelines.

Those who lead safeguarding are appropriately trained to manage this aspect of the school's work. Records of child protection are in place and staff log concerns appropriately and consistently. However, the electronic system used by leaders and staff does not capture all evaluations and conclusions.

Further action is not as clear as it should be and has resulted in an unmet standard for the residential provision. There is effective communication with alternative providers to ensure that safeguarding of pupils is given a high priority. Procedures are suitably followed.

Risk assessments for individual pupils are varied in quality. Some contain recent and relevant information regarding pupils' emotional and mental health needs, while others fail to include significant incidents. Inconsistencies and omissions result in staff not having the guidance and instructions they need to meet individual needs highly effectively.

Governors regularly check the quality of safeguarding when they visit the school. Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Requires improvement The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is too mixed. Where teachers have a clear sequence of learning planned, have high expectations and provide pupils with good-quality resources, then pupils focus, behave and achieve well.

However, this is not consistently the case across a wide enough range of subjects for teaching, learning and assessment to be judged as good overall. From Years 6 to 8 the focus is on preparing pupils to learn. Many boys arrive with significant gaps in their learning from their previous school lives or from missing school.

Rightly, there is a strong emphasis on their 'readiness to learn' and on increasing their own identification of what makes them frustrated and how to overcome challenges. However, the academic learning seen through lessons and books in Years 6 to 8 is too variable. Some of this is determined by how well pupils attend, remain in class and comply with requests to work.

But some is also due to low expectations of what pupils can achieve, especially for those pupils who do attend. In history and geography, pupils' books show that, over time, they are provided with too few opportunities to expand or deepen their knowledge, understanding and interest. Consequently, pupils, especially those who have the potential to be high achievers, are not making the same good progress in these subjects as they are in vocational subjects.

Similarly, in mathematics, pupils complete work well and many enjoy the subject, particularly in key stage 4. The opportunities for pupils to apply their knowledge and understanding in Years 6 to 9 are less evident. Pupils told inspectors that the expectation for learning and the challenge they receive increase significantly in key stage 4.

Parents have mixed views about homework and the support they and their children are provided with when working at home. Parents want their children to succeed but have very differing views about the success of the school and the quality of teaching. Where support staff do not have to leave lessons to support other pupils, they are effective and build positive relationships with pupils.

They question pupils well and help them settle to work quickly. However, too often support staff are distracted by having to find pupils who are walking around the grounds. Teachers use pupil profiles when planning learning opportunities so that individual needs from EHCPs and other in-school achievement measures are considered.

The effective use of pupil profiles was inconsistent. Inspectors found that some of these documents were not complete. Where this was the case, the learning planned was less effective.

Teachers implement a strong curriculum plan for KS4. It is based on the qualifications that pupils choose and on their proposed entry into the next stage of their education. There is a wide choice of subjects, and teachers support pupils to achieve even when they are the only pupil who wants to study a specific subject.

In 2018, all pupils who left Year 11 had secured a place at college. Although five pupils eventually did not attend college, all had enough qualifications to be able to do so. In subjects such as design technology, physical education and animal care, pupils demonstrate their knowledge and skills and a strong sense of working and supporting one another.

In these subjects, pupils have carefully planned learning opportunities where they build their skills effectively over time. Pupils often produce work that is of a high quality and at least similar to that found in other mainstream settings. Teachers use the school's marking policy, and leaders regularly monitor whether teachers follow school policies for using reward schemes when pupils have completed a good piece of work.

Personal development, behaviour and welfare Requires improvement Personal development and welfare The school's work to promote pupils' personal development and welfare requires improvement. Staff demonstrate a high level of support and care for pupils. However, some pupils are not proactively encouraged to use independent strategies to manage their behaviour in a way that is proving effective for their individual social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

A small core of pupils direct highly derogatory language at staff and peers. There is little distinction in school policies and practice about the type of derogatory language used. Adults too readily accept that all derogatory language is part of pupils' overall special educational needs and is perceived as 'swearing'.

Some pupils spoken with stated that adults ask them to stop and they know they should not swear, while others continue to make derogatory comments about gender, race and sexual orientation that goes unchecked. Pupils' use of mobile phones is not consistent with the school policy. The policy was reviewed in September 2018 and clearly states that no mobile phones are allowed in class or overnight at the residential provision.

This is not the case in practice, and the information for parents is misleading. Pupils use their personal mobile phones routinely in class and access their personal internet. This happens without challenge or consideration that a pupil's welfare may be put at risk from choosing to access inappropriate material.

Pupils receive spiritual, moral, social and emotional education through their life skills classes. Displays around the school demonstrate that the curriculum for life skills lessons is thoughtfully considered and sequenced. Work in most pupils' books demonstrates that they cover a wide range of topics and issues, particularly in key stage 4.

Nurturing relationships are built with pupils who are looked after or in care. Staff work well with carers and ensure that pupils receive specific support when needed. Pupils' social development is considered carefully and linked to their EHCP.

Pupils' starting points are measured and school leaders arrange groups by stage and not age. In Years 6 to 8, pupils receive a large proportion of their provision focusing on 'readiness to learn'. Some of this provision is new and policies and practices are still in the early stages.

Emerging evidence is positive. Pupils in key stage 3 are starting to explain their feelings, and they know what makes them angry or frustrated. Behaviour The behaviour of pupils requires improvement.

Attendance remains significantly below the national average. The attendance of disadvantaged pupils is lower still. Staff are working with the local authority to reduce persistent absenteeism.

They have effectively reduced the absence of half the pupils who have historically come to school between 0 and 49% of the time. A few pupils leave lessons routinely and wander the school grounds. The school has a protocol for dealing with these events, but it can appear slow.

Some parents expressed concerns about this issue as the site is very large. Deliberate action to reduce pupils leaving lessons is not clear or systematic enough. It results in a disruptive and inconsistent learning environment for other boys and staff.

Despite a reduction in the rate of fixed-term exclusions, it has been much higher than found nationally for all schools, for the three years since opening as an academy. There were no permanent exclusions in 2017/18. The school behaviour policy, reviewed in March 2018, states clearly that the school is a no smoking site.

Leaders stated that they have eliminated the problem of boys smoking during the day. During the inspection, a group of boys were witnessed smoking by an inspector. Behaviour in less-structured times, such as lunchtimes, was often poor over the course of the inspection.

Leaders stated that this was not typical. Staff log incidents that occur, and incidents such as violence to peers and staff and damage to property are considered in a whole-school meeting at the end of the day. School evidence shows that the number of incidents reduces significantly by key stage 4 but remains a concern from Year 6 to Year 8.

This year, 23 pupils have been identified as requiring additional support for repeated incidents regarding violence to peers in autumn term one. The number of negative incidents recorded have significantly reduced or have been eliminated for three quarters of these pupils. Inspectors found that staff work hard to react positively and calmly when pupils display highly challenging behaviour.

For the majority of pupils, the school's approach is proving effective over a long period of time. The number of positive behaviour incidents is higher in the residential provision. There are fewer recorded incidents of violence towards staff and peers and damage of property.

Most pupils respond well in both the school and residential provision to the rewards and incentives they receive. The range of Friday activities are sought after and prized. A few parents spoke highly of the changes in their son's behaviour since starting at the school.

Outcomes for pupils Requires improvement From their starting points, the progress that pupils make is inconsistent. There remains a core of pupils whose achievement, behaviour and attendance are low. Leaders do not know the difference the additional funding for disadvantaged pupils is making to their attendance and therefore, specifically, to their achievement.

The progress that pupils make from Year 6 to 8 has not been good enough to prepare them well for the transition into key stage 4. Leaders have changed the structure for this academic year to provide more 'readiness to learn lessons', especially for Year 8. This is new.

Current school evidence for behaviour incidents shows that Year 8 have had a greater number of negative incidents than other year groups this academic year, which affects the progress that these pupils make. In 2018, all Year 11 pupils secured appropriate post-16 destinations in education, employment or training. School leaders track pupils for two terms after leaving Ramsden Hall Academy, and five pupils did not take up the next stage of their education and are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Currently, leaders' information and work in pupils' books demonstrate that there is a similar pattern this academic year. School leaders work well with the local authority to provide careers guidance and education to pupils in Year 11. There is a good deal of communication and transition work between the school and colleges.

Pupils who are disadvantaged are supported well with completing application forms and receiving travel information, for example, so that they can be independent. Alternative placements are used well, and information is provided appropriately regarding pupils' risk assessments and personal profile. Alternative provision is provided in motor vehicle maintenance, construction and animal care.

Pupils often attend one or two days a week and make suitable progress. A few pupils left Year 11 in 2018 securing apprenticeships, for example in fine furniture making. Currently, where pupils study design and technology, there is a clear sequence and understanding of what pupils need to know and understand to achieve well.

Pupils respond well to the consistency of approach, and they behave well and make good progress. Pupils in key stage 4 study a range of courses linked closely to qualifications that are completed in Years 9, 10 and 11. Work in most pupils' books demonstrates that pupils are making strong progress in their chosen courses.

Similarly, in practical courses, such as animal care, pupils relish the responsibilities that they are given and make good personal and academic progress. Since the introduction of the gym provision last year, pupils make good progress because of the specific and good-quality teaching. Overall experiences and progress of children and young people residential provision Requires improvement Children enjoy staying in the residential provision.

They benefit from increased social opportunities and regular activities. The routine and structure of residence improves their school day. School staff work closely with the care staff, and their roles are versatile.

They provide supervision and support in the morning, leading into the school day. This ensures that any concerns are shared with teaching staff, therefore reducing potential behavioural incidents. The relationships between residential staff and children are good.

Children are relaxed and open with the staff. They share their concerns and express their views in the knowledge that these are valued and influential. The quality of the residential accommodation is poor.

Ambitious plans to move to a new purpose-built building have been significantly delayed by a wildlife preservation order and building contractors. The existing accommodation is poorly maintained. The décor and furnishings are old and worn.

Several areas are not clean enough. There are large stains on windows, dust and insects on some window sills, flaking paint and most walls are grubby and marked. The staff are unable to regulate the temperature during winter months.

While there are fans and air conditioning units, the bedrooms and some communal rooms are uncomfortably hot. The fire risk assessment is not up to date. The document states that there are no signs of fire setting, despite a recent incident of fire setting in the grounds.

In addition, relevant personnel were not made aware of the incident. Managers have not followed the school's own policy regarding access to mobile telephones. Following consultation with the children, they can keep mobile telephones at night.

This is despite the policy saying it is expected that residential students will hand their phones in at night. Therefore, the policy fails to inform practice. The use of mobile phones at night presents potential safeguarding concerns.

This was raised by a parent as a general concern, with the use of mobile telephones detracting from school work. The children present with challenging and difficult behaviours during the school day. However, during the evening these reduce significantly.

The children are aware of the points incentive system, and this works well. The staff reward positive behaviours, and this motivates change. This system is embedded throughout the school and residential provision and is providing achievable incentives for children.

Residential staff use sanctions, which are recorded. Some entries are very brief and are not clearly written. This makes it difficult to monitor for proportionality.

Furthermore, some records are not signed by the children. It is, therefore, unclear if children have a clear understanding of the impact of their behaviours. This inspection identified several national minimum standards that are unmet.

While these weaknesses exist, leaders and the new manager have an awareness of the need to improve and have identified most of these issues themselves. Where they have identified these, they have plans in place to address them. Where they have not, leaders and managers have the capacity to take the necessary action.

Some residential staff have not received annual appraisals of their performance. Where staff have received these, the records are undated and, until recently, unsigned. The staff themselves have raised concerns about the quality of appraisal and supervisions prior to the new manager coming into post.

The absence of formal, annual appraisal means that staff with significant responsibilities have not had the full range of support needed to carry on their role. Managers ensure that independent people visit the school and complete reports. However, the visits do not always capture the views of the children or the staff.

When reports do refer to time spent with children or staff, they do not elaborate on what their feedback is. This limits the value of the visit and lessens the potential for those who receive the report to learn from it. In addition, the records of these visits are not shared with all academy council members.

This further limits the effectiveness of the process, limits the knowledge of academy council members about the quality of the residential service, and limits the opportunity for academy council members to challenge and improve the quality of the independent visitors reports. All residential staff have appropriate qualifications and have attended safeguarding training. A new induction process has been instigated by the new manager.

The management team have addressed the issues identified at the last inspection. Full employment histories are on file for new recruits to the residential provision, and agreements are in place with people who live on-site but do not work in the school. School details Unique reference number 142612 Social care unique reference number SC018026 Local authority Essex Inspection number 10056473 This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

The inspection of residential provision was carried out under the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Care Standards Act 2000, having regard to the national minimum standards for residential special schools. Type of school Special School category Academy special sponsor-led Age range of pupils 10 to 16 Gender of pupils Boys Number of pupils on the school roll 97 Number of boarders on roll 17 Appropriate authority The board of trustees Chair John Wotherspoon Headteacher Emma Baker Telephone number 01277 624 580 Website www.ramsdenhall.

org.uk Email address [email protected]

uk Date of previous inspection Not previously inspected