The Meadows School

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About The Meadows School

Name The Meadows School
Ofsted Inspections
Head Teacher Mr A McGarry
Address Whitworth Lane, Spennymoor, DL16 7QW
Phone Number 01388811178
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 64
Local Authority County Durham
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

This is a school where pupils receive a high level of support. Pupils work in small groups. Staff build positive relationships with pupils.

Pupils are safe. Bullying is rare. Pupils trust staff to sort out any problems they may have.

The school is ambitious for pupils. Pupils follow national curriculum subjects. Pupils sit a range of qualifications.

Pupils are proud of what they achieve. All pupils at the school have education, health and care (EHC) plans. Staff know pupils well.

Pupils receive effective support for their social, emotional and mental health needs. However, the identification of pupils' additional learning needs is not as precise as i...t needs to be.

Many pupils have struggled to manage in their previous school.

Once settled at The Meadows, most pupils attend and behave well. A small number of pupils, however, do not attend school, or lessons, as consistently as they need to. Some pupils struggle to keep calm at times.

Staff are quick to help pupils when this happens. There is no disruption to the learning of others.

The school encourages pupils to read widely.

Pupils read regularly. The teaching of phonics to pupils at the early stage of reading is underdeveloped.

The school has recently gained new leaders, including a governing body called an interim executive board.

Despite this period of change, the school has remained a stable and caring place to be.

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

All subjects have coherent, detailed plans. It is clear what pupils need to learn and in what order.

Medium-term plans have what the school calls 'knowledge organisers'. These explain the key learning that pupils need to know before they move on to a new topic.

In most subjects, lesson activities match the intended learning well.

Pupils steadily build on what they know and can do. For example, in science, pupils confidently link the experiments they do to key scientific concepts. In a small number of subjects, however, the delivery of the lesson activities is not as effective as it needs to be.

In these lessons, some pupils struggle to stay focused on their work. This limits the progress these pupils make.

Each pupil has a personalised support plan.

Staff implement the strategies on these plans diligently and consistently. However, staff have limited information on pupils' sensory or speech and language needs. The school is aware of this gap in the information it currently gathers on pupils.

There are plans in place to address this issue.

The school supports pupils' wider reading well. Pupils happily read every day in tutor time.

Most pupils are independent readers. For pupils who are still at the early stage of learning to read, the school has a well-resourced phonics scheme. However, phonics is not taught at present.

This is because staff are waiting for appropriate training.

The school is well ordered. Most pupils attend well.

However, a small number of pupils are still missing too much school. In addition, some pupils take a lot of time out of lessons during the school day. Staff respond quickly and, eventually, these pupils settle back to their learning.

The school is taking appropriate steps to improve pupils' attendance at school and in lessons. There are new systems in place for managing behaviour. Staff are implementing these systems confidently and effectively.

This work is beginning to have a positive impact on pupils' behaviour.

There is a well-designed personal, social and health education programme. Pupils learn how to stay healthy.

Pupils understand the importance of safe relationships. Pupils learn about democracy and fundamental British values in their citizenship lessons. Pupils benefit from a well-established careers programme.

Pupils get specialist careers advice from the local authority. The school helps pupils get ready for the move into post-16 education or training. In recent years, all Year 11 pupils gained a place at a local college or training agency.

The school has experienced a great deal of turbulence with regards to leadership and governance over recent months. The members of the interim executive board are highly experienced and knowledgeable. They bring an appropriate balance of support and challenge to the school.

Current leaders have acted decisively to improve the school. The school maintains regular contact with parents and carers. The school is considerate of staff's well-being and workload.

Staff feel valued. Staff are eager to play their part in the school's improvement journey.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The school's implementation of planned learning is not consistently effective. In some lessons, pupils are not as engaged in their learning as they need to be. This is limiting the progress pupils are making through the intended learning.

The school should ensure that there is consistently strong delivery of planned learning in all lessons. The school should ensure that all staff have the pedagogic strategies and resources they need to engage all pupils successfully. ? The school's systems for identifying pupils' sensory or speech, language and communication needs are underdeveloped.

This is limiting the progress of some pupils in terms of their learning and their personal development. The school should ensure it has the appropriate strategies, therapeutic approaches and resources to meet pupils' additional sensory and speech and language needs. ? The school's teaching of phonics is not embedded.

This means that some pupils at the early stages of learning to read are not becoming independent readers as quickly as they need to. The school should ensure there are daily phonics lessons for pupils who need it and that all staff receive training to enable them to contribute confidently to the teaching of reading. ? A small number of pupils struggle to attend school or to stay in their lessons when they are in school.

This is limiting what these pupils know and can do. The school should roll out its revised plans for, and investment in, behaviour and attendance management without delay. The school should ensure individual support plans for behaviour and attendance are kept under regular review so that any amendments that are required are put in place swiftly.

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