The St Christopher School

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About The St Christopher School

Name The St Christopher School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mr Dan Woodman
Address Mountdale Gardens, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 4AW
Phone Number 01702524193
Phase Academy (special)
Type Academy special converter
Age Range 3-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 241
Local Authority Southend-on-Sea
Highlights from Latest Inspection


There has been no change to this school's overall judgement of outstanding as a result of this ungraded (section 8) inspection. However, the evidence gathered suggests that the inspection grade might not be as high if a graded (section 5) inspection were carried out now. The next inspection will therefore be a graded inspection.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils arrive excited and keen at the beginning of the school day. They and their parents value the smiles and warm welcome given by school staff when they arrive. When pupils feel anxious, staff are readily available to provide reassurance, and help make the start of the day a positive one.

Pupils look forward to thei...r lessons and enjoy learning new things. They are enthusiastic about the things they are learning. Pupils' communication and early reading skills develop significantly over time.

However, in some areas of their learning, pupils are not as well supported to develop their knowledge and understanding.

Pupils enjoy the range of facilities, resources, and opportunities provided for them. Many access trips, clubs and work-related learning opportunities.

A few parents would like a wider range of after-school clubs, as available pre-pandemic. Pupils, including the small group of students who access the school's sixth-form provision, receive high-quality, one-to-one support that prepares them to become more independent as they move into adulthood.

Pupils feel safe because they build positive relationships with staff.

Pupils learn a range of strategies to support them to manage their feelings and behaviours and access their learning. Bullying is rare and staff deal with it promptly and sensitively when it occurs.

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

Over the last year, leaders and staff have worked to further develop the breadth and scope of the curriculum that is available to pupils.

In some subjects, such as physical education (PE) and personal, social, and health education (PSHE), leaders provide high-quality guidance and training for staff to deliver the intended curriculum. In these subjects, pupils learn well. Staff have a precise understanding about what pupils know and can do.

A few subjects are less well developed. In these subjects, teachers are not clear on the precise content or concepts that pupils need to learn. Leaders' monitoring in these subjects is less well developed.

Leaders do not know enough about how well pupils are learning the intended curriculum.

Staff support pupils' early communication needs very well. The speech and language team provides high-quality specialist expertise on a day-to-day basis.

Staff are well trained in using a range of different communication aids. Staff know pupils' specific needs. They skilfully interweave opportunities to practise new learning throughout the school day.

Staff routinely review pupils' evolving speech, language and communication needs to ensure that they get the right help at the right time.

Pupils of all ages and abilities enjoy rhymes, stories and reading. Starting in Reception, staff deliver the school's chosen phonics programme effectively.

Books and resources that pupils access closely match the sounds they are learning. Pupils access daily phonics sessions, one-to-one reading with adults, and wider reading opportunities. Many pupils go on to read fluently and independently.

As pupils get older, they have many opportunities to read, including in the school's sixth form.

The youngest children in Reception and new pupils to the school settle quickly. Most pupils are kind to each other, and value the 'family' community.

Over time, many pupils learn strategies to manage their emotions and behaviour. Pupils who exhibit some of the most complex behaviour issues begin to make friends, engage in clubs and trips, achieve accreditation and qualifications, succeed on work experience, and secure part-time jobs around their studies.

The provision for pupils' well-being is exceptional.

Over time, led by the chief executive officer (CEO), leaders have worked tenaciously to expand the facilities and curriculum on offer to pupils. Leaders use these areas in creative ways to offer pupils opportunities to develop independence and confidence. For example, adapting the school caravans so that pupils can practise being on residential trips.

Leaders' diligence in supporting pupils' well-being is also evident in the development of the school's sixth-form annex. Leaders have invested significantly in a curriculum offer that supports a small number of students with extremely specific needs. This well-thought-through provision, like other aspects of the school, makes meaningful differences to the life chances of students.

Pupils, parents, staff, and leaders feel they are part of a community that supports and helps each other. Parents are overwhelmingly positive. Almost all staff are positive about working at the school.

They value the support they receive from leaders and feel that leaders are considerate of their workload.

The new headteacher and the CEO have a clear understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement in provision. A number of leaders are new to post this year.

They are working on how to improve the precision of what they know about aspects of the school's work. This includes leaders' monitoring of lower-level behaviours that do not require significant intervention, and staff's delivery of the wider curriculum.

Trustees and governors lack clarity about their roles and responsibilities.

Governance of the school relies too much on the work of the CEO. Too often, trustees and governors do not question leaders on the information provided to them. While there is a strong focus on financial management and care for pupils, in other areas, trustees and governors lack precise knowledge to hold the CEO and leaders to account.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders work tenaciously to provide support for the most vulnerable pupils. Staff are well trained and refer all concerns about pupils to leaders.

Leaders piece together this information to ensure that pupils get access to the right services.

Until recently, safeguarding records had not been collected centrally. Leaders have moved to a system that centralises all information but are still in the process of transferring records from the old to the new system.

Pupils are taught about how to keep themselves safe. Staff are adept at supporting pupils who struggle to understand some of this learning, so that it is accessible to them. Leaders work hard to ensure that pupils have regular opportunities to give their feedback on how safe and secure they feel.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• There is a lack of clarity between trustees and governors about roles and responsibilities. They do not know enough about aspects of the school's work such as behaviour, attendance, and curriculum. They rely too much on the information provided by leaders and the CEO, without question or query.

Trustees should clarify the roles and responsibilities for the trust and governors. They should ensure that they have precise systems for monitoring, reviewing, and challenging all aspects of leaders' work. ? Some areas of the curriculum are not precisely planned, delivered, and monitored.

Where this occurs, teachers make decisions about the content that is taught. Pupils who should be learning the same content and concepts are not doing so. Leaders do not know how well pupils are faring in these areas.

Leaders should ensure that the curriculum clearly lays out the knowledge and concepts that pupils need to learn in these areas. Leaders should ensure they check that pupils are learning the curriculum well.Background

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 March 2014.

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