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|The Japanese School
|Mr Masahiko Sato
|87 Creffield Road, Acton, London, W3 9PU
|Other independent school
|Number of Pupils
What is it like to attend this school?
Leaders have not followed statutory guidance when appointing new staff to the school. Staff do not have a secure enough understanding of some of the key risks to which pupils may be vulnerable. Consequently, leaders’ approach to ensuring that pupils are kept safe from potential harm is not effective.
Conversely, leaders are determined to provide pupils with a highly ambitious curriculum. Pupils achieve exceptionally well and acquire detailed knowledge in the broad range of subjects studied. Leaders provide many enrichment opportunities to support pupils’ personal development. They also have high expectations for pupils’ behaviour, guiding pupils on how to behave with integrity, as well as how to make a positive contribution to society. All of leaders’ ambitions for the quality of education and pupils’ conduct are realised consistently.
Pupils enjoy coming to school. This is reflected in their very high rates of attendance. Pupils are kind towards others and go out of their way to support their peers, including when new pupils join the school. They welcome new pupils warmly because many pupils remember what it was like for themselves not so long ago. Any misbehaviours, including bullying, are a rarity. Should they have any concerns, pupils know they can approach a trusted member of staff who will readily help them.
Pupils value and are proud of their school. This is demonstrated by the conscientious manner in which they all help out with keeping the school clean and tidy every day.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The proprietor body and school leaders have not ensured that the school’s arrangements for safeguarding are effective. They have also not ensured compliance with all the independent school standards.
Leaders provide pupils with a broad and highly ambitious curriculum. Much thought has gone into what knowledge pupils must learn across subjects. Curriculum thinking lays out step by step the chunks of knowledge that need to be taught.
Teachers have extensive expertise in their subjects. They also know how to teach subject content so that pupils understand and remember it. Leaders ensure that a range of high-quality resources are available to support the delivery of the curriculum. This helps teachers to present new knowledge clearly.
Leaders have developed suitable systems for identifying and supporting the needs of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Teachers keep a close eye on the development of pupils’ understanding, addressing misconceptions and giving extra support to pupils who fall behind. Teachers also create many opportunities for pupils to revise prior learning. This assists pupils in embedding key knowledge in their long-term memories. As a result, pupils achieve very well across the subjects.
Leaders take advantage of the many things on offer in London to enrich and deepen pupils’ learning. They also arrange educational journeys across the UK, such as to Scotland. These are planned carefully to expand pupils’ experiences and cultural capital. Opportunities for pupils to develop and nurture their talents and interests are prioritised. For example, staff in the art department arrange an annual sketching competition for all pupils. Groups of pupils spend the day visiting and sketching at significant places of interest, including, for example, in stately homes, on Tower Bridge and at London Zoo. The winners have their work framed and exhibited. In addition, the school has begun to submit pupils’ artwork to the Royal Academy of Arts
Pupils who join the school tend to be at the very early stages of speaking English as an additional language. Leaders make it a priority to deliver a comprehensive and aspirational English curriculum. Staff are well trained and have the necessary expertise to support pupils to build up their knowledge effectively. They deliver a well-considered and precisely sequenced curriculum. The teaching of reading is a priority from the start, including the use of phonics to ensure that pupils can decode words accurately and fluently. As pupils progress through the school, they become fluent and confident readers in English. This is in addition to their confidence and fluency in reading Japanese. Within the English programme, pupils learn conversational English, writing, spelling and listening skills. Staff also enter pupils’ writing in English into national writing competitions. Some pupils have had their written submissions published.
The atmosphere in classrooms is underpinned by a very strong culture of ambition. It is expected and routine among pupils to strive to achieve well. As a result, they engage fully in their lessons and even low-level disruption is rare. These attitudes play a major role in pupils’ academic success.
Leaders provide pupils with a variety of enrichment opportunities. These include many cultural visits and a range of sporting and musical clubs. The personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education programme is well thought through. It teaches pupils about a range of relevant topics to support their understanding of wider society. For example, when teaching pupils about how the government works in Japan, they are also taught about democracy in Great Britain. Pupils are taught to respect people with protected characteristics, and they learn about different faiths and cultures. Secondary pupils particularly value their lessons on the Abrahamic religions. The approach to providing pupils with relationships and sex education gives due regard to the statutory guidance.
Across the school, pupils take on a range of leadership responsibilities. For example, the environmental committee designed and planted a welcome garden at the school entrance. Leaders provide pupils with useful careers guidance. Pupils also have opportunities to undertake work experience.
Staff said that leaders help them to have a reasonable work–life balance.
The proprietor body and senior school leaders have very little understanding of their statutory duties. This is particularly in relation to the independent school standards and safeguarding. Leadership arrangements mean that senior school leaders and trustees change regularly. For example, senior staff arrive from Japan, and in a matter of a couple of years, return and are replaced by other, new leaders. Trustees also rotate often. The proprietor body has not made suitable provisions to ensure continuity in leadership’s oversight of the school, including checking the effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements. For example, no strategy or procedures are in place for an effective and informative handover when senior leaders change. Incoming leaders do not make themselves knowledgeable quickly about their statutory duties in relation to independent schools in England.
Some unmet independent school standards were addressed quickly by leaders during the inspection. However, there remain several unmet independent school standards, both in relation to safeguarding and arrangements for managing complaints. The proprietor body has not put in place any mechanisms to ensure and assure themselves that all the independent school standards are met securely and consistently.
The school complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010
The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.
Recruitment processes for vetting new staff’s suitability to work with pupils are weak. Several of the required checks on leaders’ and staff’s suitability to work with pupils have not been carried out. For example, leaders have not ensured that Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks have been completed for all new members of staff, particularly those who arrive from overseas. Additionally, leaders have not complied with the statutory requirements for schools to obtain a separate barred list check if a member of staff works with pupils before a DBS certificate is available. Statutory prohibition from teaching checks have not been carried out.
Arrangements for checking the suitability of members of the proprietor body are also unsuitable. The school does not comply with the requirements for independent schools that all members of the proprietor body must have a DBS check. In addition, the school does not comply with the requirement that independent schools must undertake and record details of the section 128 checks for those in management positions.
Leaders have not done enough to make sure that staff are knowledgeable about the latest statutory guidance. Safeguarding leaders have read but not undertaken specific training on the latest version of statutory safeguarding guidance.
Staff know the school’s procedures for reporting concerns and said that they would follow this. However, their understanding of the different types of risks that pupils may face is not well developed. Staff have received a translation of the latest statutory safeguarding guidance, but they have not had specific training to ensure that they understand and can act on its key messages. They have a limited grasp of some of the key risks, including, for example, online bullying and exploitation.
Pupils said that if they had any concerns, they would tell a trusted member of staff who would help them. Through the curriculum, pupils are taught about risk and how to keep themselves safe. This includes sessions on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and online safety. Pupils are also taught how to form healthy relationships and the principles of consent.
The school’s safeguarding policy is published on its website and refers to current statutory guidance.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(information for the school and proprietor)
? Leaders do not routinely follow statutory guidance for checking the suitability of staff who apply to work at the school. Additionally, statutory guidance is not consistently followed for checks on the suitability of members of the proprietor body. This puts pupils at potential risk. Leaders should ensure that they familiarise themselves with statutory guidance, and as a matter of urgency, make all the required checks for all staff and, as appropriate, for members of the proprietor body. ? Leaders have not made sure that they and staff are knowledgeable about the latest statutory safeguarding guidance and in particular, the different types of risks that pupils may face. Because of this, staff are unable to be alert to all of the signs that may indicate a pupil may be at risk. Leaders should ensure that they take the necessary action to secure their full understanding of statutory guidance, including any relevant updates. In turn, they should also ensure that staff gain the knowledge they need to be vigilant to all types of potential safeguarding concerns. ? The proprietor body does not ensure that members of the proprietor body and school leaders have the necessary expertise and knowledge to make sure that the school complies consistently with all of the independent school standards. They have not established suitable and effective arrangements for sharing key information, including in relation to safeguarding, when leaders arrive from or return to Japan. Leaders, including the proprietor body, have also not ensured that they familiarise themselves quickly with their statutory duties and the requirements of being registered as a school in England. All of this means that leaders’ oversight of the school’s compliance with requirements is poor. The proprietor body should put in place suitable procedures for ensuring and assuring themselves of consistent compliance with the independent school standards, including appropriate and securely established arrangements for the sharing of knowledge and expertise every time that leaders and members of the proprietor body change.