Spen Brook Schook


Name Spen Brook Schook
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 16 July 2019
Address (former Hawes Side Library), Hawes Side Lane, Blackpool, FY4 5AJ
Phone Number 01253764729
Type Independent (special)
Age Range 11-17
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Local Authority Blackpool
Percentage Free School Meals 0.0%
Pupils with SEN Support 50%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about this school

The Birches is an independent special school registered for up to six boys aged 11 to 17 who have social, emotional and mental health difficulties and associated complex challenging behaviour and associated anxiety. The Birches is one of a small number of schools which, together with other services, form part of the Hexagon Care Group. Due to the vulnerable nature of pupils, the school does not have a dedicated website. General information about schools and services is available on Hexagon’s website. The school aims to ‘assist young people in coming to terms with their own abuse and trauma as well as their offending’ and to ‘… support young people to develop empathy and respect for others by promoting positive relationships and behaviour.’ Pupils come from several local authorities and all are looked after. All pupils have an education, health and care plan. There are three members of staff: a headteacher, a teacher and a higher-level teaching assistant. At the time of the inspection, senior leaders had recruited a specialist science teacher. In addition, the school was in the process of applying to the Department for Education (DfE) for a material change to consider the suitability of new premises. During the inspection, the DfE acknowledged a change in proprietor, from Francis Ashcroft to Caroline Ashdown.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school The headteacher and staff are passionate about their work and determined to ensure that pupils realise their potential. Together, leaders and staff have systematically addressed the areas for improvement identified at the time of the previous inspection. The proprietor, who is also the school improvement leader for all Hexagon Care Group schools, takes a keen interest in the school. Together with staff, she ensures that stringent safeguarding procedures are adhered to and all the independent school standards are met. Teaching is outstanding. Teachers know pupils exceptionally well and have high expectations of them. As a result, pupils make exceptional progress in subjects including English, mathematics and citizenship. Pupils attain a wide range of qualifications and benefit from excellent work experience. For several years, all Year 11 pupils have gone into either further education, employment or training. Opportunities for pupils to read for pleasure are somewhat limited, as is their appreciation of the work of different authors. Pupils benefit from an engaging curriculum, which captures their interest, deepens their understanding and ensures their good progress in a wide range of subjects. Staff form strong and trusting bonds with pupils. They help pupils to manage their emotions and previous traumatic experiences. Pupils’ behaviour is outstanding. They work hard to overcome barriers to learning, attend school regularly and are determined to succeed. The school’s work to cater for pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding. The school’s work to enhance pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding and appreciation of British values is highly effective. Parents, carers and representatives from placing authorities indicate that pupils are safe and making outstanding progress. Work-based learning providers are highly complimentary about the school, stating that communication is excellent. Compliance with regulatory requirements The school meets the requirements of the schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 (‘the independent school standards’) and associated requirements.