The Forest School

Name The Forest School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
This inspection rating relates to a predecessor school. When a school, converts to an academy, is taken over or closes and reopens as a new school a formal link is created between the new school and the old school, by the Department for Education. Where the new school has not yet been inspected, we show the inspection history of the predecessor school, as we believe it still has significance.
Inspection Date 17 December 2019
Address Park Lane, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, HG5 0DQ
Phone Number 01423864583
Type Special
Age Range 2-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 113 (66% boys 34% girls)
Academy Sponsor Wellspring Academy Trust
Local Authority North Yorkshire
Percentage Free School Meals 28.1%
Percentage English is Not First Language 5.3%
Persisitent Absence 16.2%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No


The Forest School continues to be an outstanding school.However, inspectors have some concerns that standards may be declining, as set out below.

What is it like to attend this school?

The Forest School is a kind and welcoming place. Pupils are safe and happy and enjoy coming to school. Staff know the pupils well. There are positive relationships between staff and pupils. Staff have worked hard to change the way they react and respond to pupils’ behaviour. They now look at behaviour as a form of communication and work out what the pupil is trying to say. This helps pupils to understand their emotions and be more able to talk about and control their anger. Pupils’ behaviour has improved as a result of the changes in staff reactions. Bullying is dealt with swiftly by staff. Parents and carers, and pupils, agree.

Leaders have high aspirations for pupils. However, this is not always seen in the way all subjects are taught. In literacy and science, the qualifications that pupils study do not always enable all pupils to achieve well. In some subjects, teachers are not clear about the order in which topics are taught. This means some pupils are not learning the basic steps.

Parents and carers who made their views known are positive about the school. One parent reflected the views of many when they said, “The staff at Forest School go above and beyond to nurture and support the children”.

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

Pupils are taught a wide range of subjects. In some subjects, such as mathematics, the information that pupils learn is well ordered. This helps pupils build their knowledge and develop their skills. In other subjects, the approach to organising what pupils learn is not as clear.

Leaders are developing work on phonics and the development of reading skills. Pupils read books suited to their interests and abilities. Pupils enjoy adults reading to them.Teachers are skilled in involving all pupils in class stories.

Teachers ask questions to check that pupils understand what is being taught. However, a small number of staff do not use questioning effectively to ensure pupils’ misunderstandings are addressed. Where questioning is stronger, teachers have an accurate picture of what pupils know and need to learn.

Leaders have a clear action plan for the implementation of an assessment system. This system will support teachers in ensuring pupils’ knowledge and skills in subjects are correctly assessed. Currently, leaders do not have an accurate picture of pupils’ curriculum understanding in all subjects.

Leaders have high expectations for behaviour. Pupils are supported to understand and manage their own behaviour through, for example, effective communication or sensory breaks. Classrooms are calm places of learning. Pupils and staff agree that bullying is rare. All incidents of bullying are dealt with sensitively. Pupils are helped to realise the impact that their behaviour has on others.

Relationships between pupils and adults are strong. Staff treat pupils with respect and dignity. Pupils enjoy learning. They say that teachers are there to help them learn and keep them safe.

Pupils have lots of opportunities to develop their personal and social skills. Pupils understand how to keep themselves safe online and how to stay healthy through a healthy diet and exercise. Pupils enjoy a wide range of learning activities outside the classroom. These include horse riding, swimming and visits to museums and places of religious worship.

Staff are proud to work at the school. Teachers new to the profession talk positively about the high levels of support and training they receive. Some staff feel that their workload has increased recently. Leaders have taken this into account and have introduced measures to support staff. For instance, they have appointed a student services manager to support external meetings and post-incident reviews.

The headteacher and the governors are committed to the school and its pupils. They understand the main priorities for improvement. Governors provide strong support and challenge to leaders.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

The headteacher is diligent and ensures that all adults have comprehensive and regular safeguarding training. Staff understand the important role they play in keeping pupils safe. They are clear about how to report any concerns they may have.Leaders have extensive knowledge of the local safeguarding risks. They work well withother agencies to keep pupils safe. They ensure pupils receive the help they need.Leaders carry out thorough checks to ensure all adults are safe to work with children.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

There is variation in how well curriculum leaders understand and plan what pupils should learn. Leaders should ensure that all curriculum leaders have the subject expertise to develop a curriculum that helps pupils to know and remember more over time. . Some staff do not consistently address pupils’ misconceptions. This leads to misunderstandings in pupils’ curriculum knowledge. Leaders should ensure that all staff have the subject knowledge to ensure that pupils’ misunderstandings are corrected. . Leaders are in the process of reviewing the school’s assessment systems. Current assessment is personalised, with targets set against pupils’ education, health and care plans. However, leaders do not have a clear picture of how pupils are progressing in all subject areas. Therefore, they do not fully know the extent of pupils’ learning. Leaders should continue to amend the assessment system so they know how well pupils are learning in all subjects.


When we have judged a special 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 a section 8 inspection of a good school or non-exempt outstanding school. We do not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection. However, if we find some evidence that the school could now be better than good or that standards may be declining, then the next inspection will be a section 5 inspection. Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the section 8 inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will convert the section 8 inspection to a section 5 inspection immediately.

This is the first section 8 inspection since we judged the school to be outstanding in June 2015.