The Ashley School

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About The Ashley School

Name The Ashley School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mr Thomas Ward
Address Ashley Downs, Lowestoft, NR32 4EU
Phone Number 01502565439
Phase Academy (special)
Type Academy special converter
Age Range 7-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 158
Local Authority Suffolk
Highlights from Latest Inspection


The Ashley School continues to be an outstanding school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils feel they are part of one big happy family. The Ashley School is a special place where pupils thrive.

Pupils say that their school is amazing. They are enthusiastic about what they learn and the friendships they make. Many say that there is not a thing they would change about their school.

Pupils feel, and say they are, safe at school.

Pupils achieve exceptionally well. Staff commit themselves to helping every pupil to enjoy success.

Adults place no limits on what pupils are able to do. Their genuine care of pupils reflects the high expectations shared b...y all. Staff expect pupils to work hard and to do their best.

Pupils are extremely well prepared for their future lives.

Kindness and respect are givens at this school. Staff are highly skilled at supporting pupils to manage their behaviour.

Gentle reminders encourage pupils to make appropriate choices. Adults work with pupils to build their understanding of how to behave and respond in social situations. This means that pupils behave very well, and bullying is rare.

Pupils are confident that adults will resolve any of their concerns.

Many parents are highly positive about the experiences their children receive. They appreciate that attending this school has had a life-changing impact on their child's education.

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

Leaders have designed an ambitious curriculum. It is tailored appropriately to individual pupils, all of whom have special educational and/or disabilities. Leaders ensure that pupils receive a high-quality education that prepares them well for adulthood.

Individual pupil's learning programmes make clear the important things they need to know. Pupils learn in small steps. Their individual targets are woven through every learning activity they undertake.

These are regularly reviewed and adapted. This ensures that the targets remain ambitious, helping pupils to make excellent progress.Subject leaders are passionate about the curriculum areas they lead.

They share their specialist expertise with staff. This has supported teachers to become skilled at planning their lessons. Learning is often linked through different topics and themes.

Pupils revisit things they have learned in the past. This builds their understanding through repeated and regular practice. For example, pupils revisited their knowledge of mathematics by carrying out an enterprise project based on horticulture.

Teachers know pupils well. Questions are purposeful, supporting opportunities for pupils to express their ideas and opinions. This develops their confidence and gives pupils a 'voice' in their learning.

Adults use assessment well to check what pupils know.

Leaders understand the importance of ensuring that all pupils can read. Teachers make use of a phonics programme to check and teach pupils' knowledge of sounds.

Pupils who need more help with reading receive extra support from well-trained staff. These times are used highly effectively and improve pupils' communication skills and reading confidence. Pupils enjoy visiting the school library.

The environment invites them to be 'reading detectives.' They relish opportunities to select books for enjoyment and explore their interests.

Careers guidance is a strength of the school.

Pupils gain meaningful qualifications that help to guide them in making choices about their next steps. They participate in interesting activities both in the community and at school. For example, pupils run a car valeting service that teaches them business and teamwork skills.

Pupils are given many opportunities to grow into active and responsible citizens. They have access to activities that develop their interests and talents, along with leadership roles such as being 'eco leaders' or on the school council. This helps to build their self-esteem and confidence.

Pupils learn how to be independent. They organise and undertake travel using public transport or become confident ordering cakes and pizza in local shops. Pupils understand about difference.

They willingly enter sensitive conversations, showing a developing awareness of their own needs and those of others.

Pupils follow clear routines through the school day. This helps to maintain the calm and orderly learning environment.

Pupils are always ready to start their lessons on time.

Governors and leaders make excellent use of professional development to support the expertise of staff. Through regular training, staff have a strong understanding of pupils' needs.

Staff feel well supported and their workload is managed well by leaders.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders have established a strong culture of safeguarding.

They ensure all required checks are made for those who work at the school. Staff are alert to any signs of concern about pupils' welfare. They regard any piece of information as valuable in building a picture about a pupil's safety and well-being.

Staff receive regular safeguarding updates and have a thorough understanding of every pupil's needs. Leaders work effectively with external agencies, ensuring that vulnerable pupils receive the support they need.

Pupils know that they can share any concerns with adults if they need to.

Pupils learn about how they can keep themselves safe whether in or out of school. Pupils say that they feel safe.


When we have judged a school to be outstanding, we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains outstanding.

This is called an ungraded inspection, and it is carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005. We do not give graded judgements on an ungraded inspection. However, if we find evidence that a school would now receive a higher or lower grade, then the next inspection will be a graded inspection, which is carried out under section 5 of the Act.

Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the ungraded inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will deem the ungraded inspection a graded inspection immediately.

This is the second ungraded inspection since we judged the school to be outstanding in April 2014.

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