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|The Sybil Elgar School
|Ms Chloe Phillips
|The National Autistic Society, Havelock Road, Southall, UB2 4NY
|Other independent special school
|Number of Pupils
What is it like to attend this school?
Pupils love attending this school. Parents and carers spoke of the excitement with which their children approach each day. Pupils arrive at school full of energy and enthusiasm every morning. They relish the many special days and events that take place throughout the year such as fundraising on Jeans for Genes Day, and the school’s recent mathematics and reading weeks.
Leaders work with parents before pupils join the school, and they make sure that learning is matched to pupils’ needs and interests. Pupils rapidly develop a sense of belonging at the school. Pupils feel safe, cared for and respected. They form trusting working relationships with the adults in the school who know each pupil well.
Staff work with compassion and kindness. They have the highest expectations for each pupil, helping them to problem-solve, become more independent and achieve highly. Pupils leave the school ready for the next phase of their lives after having comprehensive careers education and guidance that recognises their strengths and aspirations.
Pupils are kind and considerate towards others. Their behaviour is exceptional. Staff do not tolerate bullying, and they deal with it quickly should it occur.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Pupils receive an exceptional education at this school. Leaders have planned a high-quality curriculum that is taught by staff who have expertise in working with pupils with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents are uniformly positive about the school and how it has transformed the lives of their children and their families.
Leaders plan every subject so that teachers can adapt lessons and use resources to meet the needs of individual pupils. They anticipate and help pupils to overcome any difficulties they may have with their learning, and they enable them to achieve very well. Leaders ensure staff have high-quality training so that the school’s curriculum is taught successfully.
The school offers a wide range of subjects. Leaders have organised the curriculum based on the goals and outcomes that they know pupils need to attain. Staff ensure that pupils build up and retain the knowledge and skills that they are taught in school.
Leaders ensured that pupils had access to high-quality education throughout the lockdown. They were able to offer remote and blended learning to all pupils, while ensuring that parents knew how to keep their child safe online.
Leaders make sure that teaching pupils to read and communicate is a top priority across the school. Staff are trained to teach phonics and develop pupils’ communication skills effectively. Pupils love books and show joy and enthusiasm when reading and listening to stories. Leaders plan activities that encourage pupils’ enjoyment of literature and promote their personal development. Pupils take part in literary events, such as World Poetry Day, and read texts that guide them towards making good choices.
Staff use assessment in a systematic and effective way. They gather detailed knowledge about the pupils that they teach. Teachers and the in-house therapy team communicate with each other daily. This provides teachers with a joined-up picture of how well each pupil is doing. From this information, they regularly review and develop pupils’ targets and pathways as pupils remember and build on prior learning.
Pupils rise to the staff’s high expectations that they behave well because of the strong and nurturing relationships that exist across the school. Pupils can remove themselves safely from situations that may escalate and are able to self-regulate throughout the day. This means that learning can continue uninterrupted.
Pupils enjoy the practical nature of their learning in many subjects such as cookery and design and technology (DT). The school encourages all pupils to be enterprising and to use the products that they have made to fundraise and learn business skills. The student committee leads discussion about how to improve the school further and has been instrumental in promoting special events such as the recent recycling week.
Teachers are dedicated, hard-working and relentless in seeking the best for all pupils. They skilfully and sensitively prepare pupils for their next steps. Leaders’ careful planning when pupils move to different year groups or sites reduces anxiety for pupils and their families, making necessary change smoother and as stress-free as possible. Staff who responded to the survey had no concerns about workload. They are happy to go above and beyond what leaders expect for the pupils in their care.
Older pupils achieve qualifications, including some GCSEs and a range of functional skills. In the sixth form, pupils work towards a range of accredited academic and vocational qualifications in subjects such as geography. The school provides a highly effective programme of personal, social, health and economics (PSHE) education. Leaders prioritise this area of learning because they understand and recognise the challenges to their mental health and well-being the pupils face. Teachers use their relationships and sex education curriculum to support pupils as they grow and develop knowing, as they do, the additional risks and vulnerabilities that puberty will bring. Pupils develop an understanding of democracy in the way their elected representatives lead in decision-making in the student council.
Leaders, including those responsible for governance, ensure that all the independent school standards are met by checking them thoroughly and regularly. The school’s safeguarding policy is published on its website.
School leaders have implemented a suitable accessibility plan, in line with requirements. The school complies with schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010.The proprietors work closely in partnership with an exceptional leadership team to continuously improve what they offer to young people and their families.The school buildings are well maintained and the outdoor space available is used effectively to bring different curriculum areas, such as science, to life. Staff keep parents, social care workers and local authorities regularly updated. Stakeholders who spoke to inspectors all described the school team as responsive and effective.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Pupils are kept safe because of the rigorous and detailed procedures leaders have in place. Staff complete regular specialist training to ensure they understand pupils’ safeguarding risks. Leaders collect and analyse information related to the well-being of their pupils. Staff receive regular updates so that they know to be alert to any warning signs of any concerns. The school’s child protection policy is written in line with the latest national guidance and is published on the school’s website. Leaders ensure that recruitment checks on the adults who work with pupils are completed in line with requirements and are recorded carefully.