St Mary’s School and 6th Form College

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About St Mary’s School and 6th Form College

Name St Mary’s School and 6th Form College
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Ms Natalie Edwards
Address Wrestwood Road, Bexhill on Sea, TN40 2LU
Phone Number 01424730740
Phase Special
Type Non-maintained special school
Age Range 5-19
Religious Character Inter- / non- denominational
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 111
Local Authority East Sussex
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Each morning, pupils and staff greet each other with happy and smiling faces.

Everyone is exceptionally kind and welcoming. Pupils are eager to explain why they believe St Mary's is such a special place to learn. They can confidently recollect fond memories of exciting and interesting experiences.

Pupils are proud of their achievements. This may be a piece of artwork or something they baked in food technology. Particular pride is placed on receiving the many different awards in the Friday celebration assembly, including the much-prized Principal's Award.

Pupils enjoy learning with their friends and their trusted adults. Thoughtful support is provided daily helps pupils feel safe. Staff and pupils use different communication aids to help all pupils explore their feelings and emotions.

Staff are keen to find out each pupil's specific interests. Extra-curricular opportunities are provided to foster these talents. These include growing plants in 'Garden Club' or creating models with the school's 3D printer.

Everyone has the highest expectations for what each pupil can achieve. The education, health and care (EHC) plans are central to this. Pupils appreciate the dedication of staff that ensures each pupil has the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

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

Evidence of the extensive improvements made by the dedicated leadership team can be seen across the school. They, with their committed trustees and governors, are determined to give every pupil an education that meets their complex needs. There is a relentless focus on developing the school's curriculum alongside providing highly skilled therapy.

This is evident in the classroom where teachers and therapists work together to help every pupil achieve highly.

Staff are dedicated to their role and to the pupils they support. Strong relationships are forged.

These help pupils to feel confident and safe as they learn. Underpinning these relationships is a depth of knowledge around the needs of each pupil. Staff value the regular training they receive.

They also speak highly of the benefits of partnership working with a local trust. This support has been particularly important since the Ofsted inspection in 2019 and during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The school's curriculum has been thoughtfully constructed.

Lessons are adapted to meet the very complex needs in each class. There is a broad range of subjects on offer, including many vocational subjects in Years 10 to 14. Leaders think carefully about providing different courses that will motivate all their learners.

Some subjects, such as English, mathematics and geography, have been redeveloped over the past year. These subjects have been carefully ordered so that pupils can build their knowledge from one year and into the next. Specialist training takes place regularly in order to ensure that teachers have the expertise required.

Leaders are currently developing other subjects, such as music and history, to ensure they are as well-designed and taught as the rest of the curriculum.

Leaders prioritise the importance of reading. Pupils in key stages two and three benefit from hearing their teachers read them different novels and stories.

Staff also encourage pupils to read daily both in school and at home. Pupils do this keenly, knowing they will be awarded a raffle ticket that gives them the chance to win a new book. Leaders are currently implementing a new phonics scheme that is continuing to strengthen support for those pupils who find learning to read more difficult.

Assessing how well pupils are progressing towards the outcomes in their EHC plans is prioritised. Leaders use a multi-disciplinary approach that brings staff together to identify what further intervention is needed. However, the assessment of what pupils have learned and can remember in different subjects is not as well developed.

Leaders know this and are already implementing new processes that will quickly identify where pupils have gaps in their knowledge and understanding.

Pupils know what is expected of their behaviour. They have excellent manners and are respectful to each other.

If a pupil finds it difficult to control their emotions, adults take immediate action to support them. This support is always focused on ensuring that pupils can return quickly to learning with their classmates.

The school's personal development curriculum offers a wide range of different opportunities.

The relationships education is carefully planned to ensure that each pupil is given the most appropriate information. Students in the sixth form benefit from individualised careers guidance and work experience. This is focused on what each student needs to be successful when they leave the school and move into adulthood.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Staff follow specific processes to build detailed knowledge about every pupil. Action is taken if a pupil displays any unusual or concerning behaviour.

Staff work together to identify any risks to pupils' safety or well-being. When required, referrals are made swiftly to external agencies to ensure that pupils and their families get the help they need.

Adults have in-depth safeguarding knowledge because of detailed and regular training.

This knowledge is used to help pupils develop an appropriate understanding of how to stay safe. Most recently, pupils have valued the guidance around how to stay safe when working and playing online.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The school's curriculum is not yet securely and consistently embedded across all subjects.

This means that pupils are not always confident in using the identified knowledge and skills. Leaders should continue to monitor the full implementation of the curriculum to ensure that all pupils know and remember more across every subject. ? Leaders are currently developing and refining assessment processes in the different subjects.

As a result, teachers are less confident in accurately checking how pupils' understanding is developing. This means it is difficult to determine where further support may be required. Leaders should carefully monitor the implementation of assessment processes across the school's curriculum.

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