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|Mr Gary Hawkins
|Kingsley Road, South Harrow, HA2 8LF
|Other independent special school
|Number of Pupils
What is it like to attend this school?
Pupils like coming to this school. They are happy, and they feel safe. Each one of the three school sites is a welcoming environment. Pupils have a chance to get out in the fresh air by going to different places like local parks, cafes and shops. This helps to make up for the absence of outdoor space at some of the school sites.
Leaders have high expectations of pupils. A new team are putting these expectations into place, but they need more time and training to do this well.
Many pupils are placed at the school because they need extra help and understanding to manage their emotions. Most of the time, pupils behave well. If pupils do get upset or need help to manage their own behaviour, adults provide support in a calm and professional way.
The school has grown in size very quickly this year. There are lots of new staff. Leaders are also quite new. This has meant that the plans leaders are working on need more time to become established.
Relationships between staff and pupils are positive. Pupils say that bullying is not a problem at the school and they know who to talk to if they are worried about anything.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
As a result of the rapid growth in pupil numbers, a high proportion of the school staff are quite new, including leaders. This period of significant change has had an impact on curriculum and staff development. Leaders have put a new curriculum in place since the last inspection, but it is still at the early stages of development. As it stands, the curriculum does not give teachers clear enough direction on what they need to teach and when. This is particularly the case for those pupils in Years 3 to 11.
Teachers check to see what pupils have learned and can remember from their lessons. However, because the curriculum is not fully developed, teachers are not able to accurately check how pupils are progressing through the curriculum in a systematic and sequenced way. In the post-16 provision, staff use external qualification frameworks to check on how well students are learning.
Staff care about the pupils. They treat pupils with dignity and respect. They are gaining the specialist skills that they need to fully understand pupils’ complex needs and how best to support them.
Teachers understand the importance of teaching all pupils to read so that they can access the rest of the curriculum. Some pupils are learning phonics, but input is often based on the individual teacher’s own knowledge about how to deliver this. This means that the approach to teaching pupils to read is not consistent. Leaders have not ensured that staff have had sufficient training in teaching pupils at an early stage of reading.
Teachers set lessons and activities which focus on pupils’ personal and social development. These opportunities include learning about online safety, shopping and cooking. There are also some interesting outdoor activities which include canoeing and gaining work skills in a local café. At present, the personal development of pupils is not thought through in sufficient detail to ensure that all pupils have a wide range of experiences that logically develop over time. Sometimes, similar activities are repeated too often, and teachers do not have clear direction from leaders about the most important things that pupils should cover, particularly with regard to relationships and sex education and protected groups of people. In the post-16 department, students are taught important life skills and about careers. Leaders have not yet provided teachers with enough clarity about what they should teach these students to help them be as independent as possible in the future.
Pupils behave well in school. Because of their complex needs, they are still learning how to manage their emotions independently. If a pupil does become dysregulated, adults calmly provide support. This helps pupils to get back on track with their work as soon as possible. Pupils like the small class sizes and the help they get from the adults who work with them.
Staff feel well supported by leaders and like working at the school. They say that workload is not a problem and that leaders consider their well-being. Staff are enthusiastic and motivated. They work hard, with pupils’ best interests at heart. The proprietor and the director of operations were involved throughout the inspection. They have clear plans for the future. Leaders are working well together to bring about necessary improvements.
Leaders have ensured that the school meets the independent school standards. They maintain the premises to a high standard. Their accessibility plan complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders have ensured that there is a well-organised approach to recruiting and checking new staff before they start working at the school. This includes arrangements for temporary staff.
Staff understand their safeguarding responsibilities. They know how to recognise the signs that a pupil might need help and how to report concerns. There are some minor weaknesses in the way that the school maintains safeguarding records, and leaders should address this as a priority.
New leaders who support the designated safeguarding lead have not yet completed their induction and training. The school has made other arrangements to strengthen the oversight of safeguarding during this period, but this should be addressed urgently.
When concerns arise, school leaders work with external safeguarding partners to support pupils and their families. However, on occasion, leaders have not taken full account of advice from external partners before taking action.
The school’s safeguarding policy, which is published on its website, complies with the latest statutory guidance.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and proprietor)
? The school curriculum is still in development. It does not give teachers enough clarity about what to teach and when. This means that pupils do not gain all of the knowledge and cultural capital they need for the future. Leaders should ensure that the curriculum is explicitly planned and tailored to pupils’ individual needs. ? Provision for pupils’ personal development is not set out in sufficient detail to ensure that all pupils have a wide range of experiences that develop over time in a logical way. This means that pupils do not have enough opportunities to develop their resilience and to be ready for the next stage of their education. Leaders should: – provide teachers with clarity on what should be covered in personal development activities – ensure teachers have the skills and knowledge to develop pupils’ character with confidence. Some aspects of leaders’ safeguarding practice lack rigour. Leaders should: – ensure that safeguarding records are organised clearly and systematically so that information is quickly available for all key leaders – complete new leaders’ induction and training as soon as possible so they can fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities in the absence of the designated safeguarding lead – strengthen partnerships with external safeguarding agencies so that full account of their advice is taken before taking action.