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About The William Henry Smith School and Sixth Form
Pupils at The William Henry Smith School and Sixth Form benefit hugely from an array of experiences designed to enrich and nurture their understanding of the world. Pupils are happy because all adults take the time to understand and help them.
Activities are tailored to pupils' interests. During our visit, pupils enjoyed telling inspectors about activities involving the school farm, quad biking and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme.
The school is a calm, tranquil place.
The environment is designed to ensure pupils can learn in surroundings suited to their needs. Behaviour is excellent. Relationships between teachers and pupils are incredibly strong. ...r/>Pupils are not worried about bullying, but they know that adults would deal with it if they were.
Pupils have aspirations beyond life at the school because they are constantly encouraged through a curriculum that focuses on enhancing their quality of life; this includes academic, social and emotional development. Pupils in Year 11 and in the sixth form are given expert help and advice to ensure they can access courses tailored to their interests and skills.
Work experience is carefully planned and designed.
Success is engineered in all aspects of pupils' lives because adults take account of the special educational needs of the boys in every aspect of the work they do.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Teamwork is the underpinning principle of life at The William Henry Smith School and Sixth Form.
Therapeutic, teaching, catering, behaviour, safeguarding, site and support staff work closely and share information successfully to design a curriculum that develops pupils in all aspects of their lives. For example, many staff are trained to deliver the school's phonics programme. Phonics lessons are tailored to individual starting points through detailed assessment when pupils enter the school.
When considering the books that pupils read, teachers focus on aspects around social routines and emotions. Speech and language therapists work with leaders for literacy and phonics to ensure that barriers around communication do not hinder progress in reading. In all aspects of the school, this type of teamwork is evident.
This approach ensures rewarding experiences for pupils.
Leaders' work to understand and support pupils is exceptional. Pupils regularly have a voice through the quality-of-life questionnaires that staff conduct.
This leads to strategic decisions at whole-school, whole-class and pupil level. For example, the 'WHSS Bacc' ensures that pupils moving into Year 9 and above complete courses and study subjects that will help them to develop academically and socially. It forms part of a detailed personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum.
All pupils access the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. Term-time holidays take place to broaden pupils' experiences of the world. Subject curriculums are continually evolving to meet the needs of pupils.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, pupils' physical development was affected. For younger children, the physical development and healthy lifestyles curriculum has since been adapted to focus on developing pupils' core strength to support their physical development.
The teamwork ethos continues in approaches to behaviour.
All pupils have a positive behaviour support plan that has important information about how to support them. For example, pupils have dedicated therapy sessions every week. The learning from these plans helps staff to plan for specific approaches.
Inspectors saw these plans enacted with a patient, calm, nurturing approach. Pupils know that adults want to protect and help them. Pupils' needs mean that, on occasion, behaviour can become challenging.
When this happens, detailed reviews are undertaken to examine how to make improvements to the plans in place. This information is shared with all staff. New approaches are adopted as a result.
Leaders constantly strive to make improvements for pupils. For example, a communication and interaction unit has recently been set up to support those pupils who need more support in this area. Occupational health leaders ensure that the environment pupils work in helps to support their progress.
This has led to the development of an inspiring school site where pupils can learn in surroundings that meet the differing needs of all.
Careers provision and advice are exceptional. Pupils are encouraged to speak to adults they encounter about their jobs.
They complete work experience, which is planned very well. Pupils in the sixth form complete courses at local colleges that are designed to help them progress into successful careers. School leaders enhance this through the personal development curriculum they deliver at school.
The achievements of former pupils are celebrated and used as inspiration for current pupils.
Staff are incredibly proud to work here. They receive regular training, including for safeguarding, which encourages them to help the school constantly progress.
Several members of staff are completing national professional qualifications. On Fridays, staff participate in social activities. These are hugely important to staff.
Leaders are approachable and responsive. An open, questioning culture is apparent throughout the school. This fosters a desire to identify and improve systems and processes to build on the already impressive work that takes place.
Governors have a clear view of the school, and leaders actively seek challenge and external advice to help them constantly improve. Leaders also participate in activities with other local special schools to spread their knowledge and expertise in supporting pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) into the mainstream sector.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
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