River Dart Academy

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About River Dart Academy

Name River Dart Academy
Website https://wavemat.org/river-dart-academy
Ofsted Inspections
Mrs Tessa Claridge
Address Shinners Bridge, Dartington, TQ9 6JD
Phone Number 01803865580
Phase Academy
Type Academy alternative provision sponsor led
Age Range 5-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 19
Local Authority Devon
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils at River Dart Academy receive a poor standard of education. Their needs are not well identified or supported. Staff allow pupils to opt out of learning too frequently.

Pupils are not provided with the skills they need to be resilient and confident learners. Too many pupils have low levels of attendance. During the inspection, many pupils were unwilling to share their views politely.

Pupils have positive relationships with some staff. However, this is not typical. Pupils are repeatedly disrespectful to their peers and adults.

Many staff have low expectations for pupils and therefore poor behaviour regularly goes unchallenged. Inappropriate language is c...ommonplace. Pupils are frequently out of the classroom.

Pupils report that bullying happens and that it is not dealt with effectively. Many just accept that bullying and 'banter' are the norm. As a result, some pupils feel unsafe at school.

Parents and carers agree.

For a minority of pupils, leaders plan enrichment opportunities, such as visiting a local farm, a city museum and The Donkey Sanctuary. However, pupils do not receive the teaching they need to prepare them for the next stage of their education, employment or training.

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

The school curriculum is disjointed. It lacks ambition, coherence and structure. Pupils do not learn the crucial knowledge that they need.

Leaders do not have an accurate oversight of what is being taught. Trust leaders, over time, have identified some significant areas of concern. However, the support they have put in place is yet to have any meaningful impact.

In part, changes to staffing have impacted on this. Nevertheless, this means that the curriculum remains weak.

Leaders have not prioritised reading.

Pupils do not benefit from a rigorous or well-sequenced curriculum. Those pupils in the early stages of learning to read are not supported well. They do not have books that match their ability.

As a result, most pupils choose not to read. Gaps in learning, therefore, widen for these pupils. They then find it difficult to learn in other subjects, as they cannot read sufficiently well.

Leaders have not provided staff with appropriate professional training. This means that staff do not have the knowledge or expertise needed to provide pupils with an acceptable standard of education. Teachers' use of assessment to check what pupils know and remember from the curriculum is infrequent and ineffective.

Staff's expectations of what pupils can achieve are too low and this has led to some pupils, unfortunately, being proud of not having to engage in learning.

All pupils attending the school are those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Too frequently, the needs of pupils are not precisely identified.

Therefore, pupils are not given the help that they need to be successful.

Leaders have not taken effective action to ensure that pupils behave well and safely. Classrooms are often disorderly.

Staff do not have the necessary skills or support to tackle poor behaviour. Leaders do not take sufficient account of the risks associated with individual pupils' behaviour. Some pupils do value a recently introduced 'wowcher' reward system.

Despite this, leaders frequently use suspension as a consequence. This has little impact.

The curriculum for personal, social and health education (PSHE) is underdeveloped.

Currently, pupils do not receive teaching that supports them to understand the values and laws of modern Britain. Leaders do not provide a suitable curriculum to ensure that pupils learn about, and respect, people's religious beliefs, cultures and protected characteristics. Pupils do not receive careers education.

More positively, pupils learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol from a local drugs and alcohol service. They also understand the risks when using online platforms and apps.

Leaders, including governors, have been too slow in tackling weaknesses.

Staff indicate that their workload and well-being are sometimes negatively impacted by policy changes and unclear expectations.


The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

Pupils' disorderly and disrespectful behaviour is a significant contributory factor to why pupils are not safe.

Pupils regularly abscond from the school site. Staff are not always vigilant when pupils who should be in class are not there, therefore meaning pupils are out of sight and potentially at risk. Pupils' safety is put at significant risk because fire procedures are not managed effectively; during the inspection, there was a chaotic response to an unplanned fire alarm.

This behaviour is typical.

Staff receive regular safeguarding training. They report concerns in a timely manner and are aware of local safeguarding concerns.

However, leaders' oversight of how these concerns are managed is weak and school procedures for recording are not always followed. This means that the risks facing some very vulnerable pupils are not available to school and trust leaders when the needs of individual pupils are reviewed. Trust leaders recognise there are weaknesses in some safeguarding practices, yet they remain.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Safeguarding is not effective. Leaders' oversight of procedures and records to keep pupils safe is not robust or timely. As a result, pupils' welfare and well-being are at put risk.

As a matter of urgency, leaders should ensure that all procedures and practices to keep pupils safe are effective and reviewed regularly. Pupils' behaviour is disorderly and disrespectful, and sometimes unsafe. Staff do not have high enough expectations for pupils' behaviour and conduct.

Leaders have not set out a consistent approach to how poor behaviour is managed. Therefore, pupils are often disrespectful to their peers and to adults. They regularly disrupt learning or refuse to participate.

Suspensions are too high and have little impact. Leaders should ensure that they develop a consistent approach to the management of behaviour, which is commonly understood and actioned. ? Leaders and those responsible for governance have not acted quickly or successfully to identify and tackle the failings at the school.

As a result, pupils are not receiving an adequate education. Those responsible for governance should act with urgency to ensure that leadership capacity and expertise are developed to eradicate these shortcomings. ? Leaders have not ensured that pupils benefit from a coherent, well-sequenced curriculum.

Pupils do not learn the important knowledge they need. Leaders should ensure that there is an ambitious curriculum in place which furthers pupils' learning successfully. ? Leaders have not ensured that the needs of pupils, including those with SEND, have been identified and are met.

Therefore, many pupils do not receive the support that they need to learn well. Leaders must make sure that teachers are helped to understand the needs of pupils and how to adapt their teaching to better meet pupils' needs effectively. ? The reading curriculum is weak.

Pupils who are in the early stages of learning to read are not supported sufficiently. Consequently, pupils do not become better readers and therefore struggle to follow learning in other subjects. Leaders should ensure that there is an ambitious curriculum in place and that the weakest readers receive the support they need.

• Pupils do not take part in meaningful opportunities and learning to support their broader development. Leaders have failed to ensure that there is adequate careers provision. Pupils do not learn the essential knowledge that they need about religious beliefs, cultures, fundamental British values or protected characteristics.

Pupils are unprepared for future employment, education or life in modern Britain, and have not been helped to understand what careers are available to them. Leaders need to ensure that provision for pupils' personal development is coherently planned, so pupils are better prepared for their next stage. ? Having considered the evidence, we strongly recommend that leaders and those responsible for governance do not seek to appoint early career teachers.

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