Ripplevale School

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About Ripplevale School


Name Ripplevale School
Website http://www.ripplevaleschool.co.uk
Inspections
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Jane Norris
Address Chapel Lane, Ripple, Deal, CT14 8JG
Phone Number 01304373866
Phase Independent (special)
Type Other independent special school
Age Range 6-18
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 149
Local Authority Kent

What is it like to attend this school?

Prior to attending this school, many pupils had years of negative educational experiences. Pupils say that they feel safe, confident and happy, now they are at Ripplevale. Parents are delighted with how their sons have changed. One parent said that their child is ‘a different person who now has friends’. Another parent said, ‘He is now much more independent.’

Staff have high expectations of pupils’ academic abilities. They ensure that pupils develop their skills in a step-by-step way. For example, in mathematics, when learning about fractions, pupils first learn how to halve and quarter a number. Teachers then help them to further their understanding until they are able to change fractions into decimals. Vocational and entrepreneurial skills are well developed. For example, many pupils enjoy upcycling furniture and then selling the items.

Pupils behave well both in lessons and around the school. They learn to appreciate the feelings of others and are often very helpful to one another. Pupils say that they like earning reward points for their good behaviour. Any minor issues which do occur are resolved quickly. Pupils say that bullying of any kind is rare, but if they have any concerns they can talk to a member of staff

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

Pupils are often very anxious when they arrive at the school. One leader said, ‘Firstly, we have to build trust.’ Over a period of six weeks, the staff, including therapists, check the academic, social and emotional needs of each new pupil. Staff then create a plan to ensure that these needs are met.

The curriculum has been designed to provide a broad range of challenging experiences. The aim is to build pupils’ confidence in their own abilities. Teachers make sure that the work they provide meets these aims. For example, in food technology, pupils worked together to create a tasty four-course lunch. They were delighted with the food they had produced. Many were keen to demonstrate their learning at home to their parents and carers.

The large therapy team plays an important role in helping pupils to regulate their emotions and social anxieties. Across the school, lessons proceed calmly and pupils have positive attitudes to their learning. For example, in science, they concentrated hard when learning about pigments.

In the majority of subjects, the curriculum is well sequenced from primary through to post-16. This enables pupils to achieve a range of qualifications, from entry level to GCSEs, in a variety of subjects. However, between key stages 2 and 3 in science and food technology, the sequence of learning is less clear. New leaders have identified this issue. They are in the process of ensuring that the order of learning for next year’s science and food technology curriculums is clearer.

In reading, staff ensure that pupils develop effective phonics skills. Those who have arrived at the school with limited reading skills are given effective help to catch up. Teachers help pupils to become fluent readers. They develop a good understanding of plots and characters in books.

Leaders provide a range of opportunities to develop pupils’ personal development. In outdoor learning, for example, staff encourage pupils to consider their spiritual understanding. They are taught to pause and look at the natural world, such as sunbeams through the trees.

Students in the post-16 provision are very positive about their learning. They like having most of their lessons and free time in the manor house, which is separate from the rest of the school. Students say that they appreciate the increasing amount of responsibility that they are given. Students enjoy the variety of academic courses on offer. The vocational provision in areas such as construction, catering and media gives students an appreciation of the different pathways available.

Staff take great care to ensure that students feel confident about their transitions into further education or employment. They make sure that students are well prepared. For example, they accompany students to the local college on open days to make sure that they do not feel anxious. Post-16 students learn to travel safely on public transport.

School leaders work closely with the proprietors. Together they ensure that the independent school standards are met.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

The priority of all staff is to ensure that pupils feel safe and well protected in all aspects of school life. For example, the arrangements at the end of the school day are well managed. Staff ensure that pupils do not enter the car park unless they are with their parent.

Leaders ensure that staff have regular training in many areas associated with safeguarding. These include the signs and symptoms of abuse. Pupils know how to keep safe. For example, they know about the importance of staying safe online.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and proprietor)

The curriculums in science and food technology are not sufficiently sequenced between key stages 2 and 3. This means that when pupils enter key stage 3, they do not develop their understanding in these subjects as quickly as they might. Leaders must ensure that pupils in key stage 3 are better prepared for their learning in these subjects.

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