Villa Real School

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About Villa Real School

Name Villa Real School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Jill Bowe
Address Villa Real Road, Consett, DH8 6BH
Phone Number 01207503651
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 124
Local Authority County Durham
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Leaders and staff have extremely high aspirations for all pupils and the school is on the journey to being outstanding.

Pupils are given many opportunities to be the best that they can be. Leaders and staff strongly support pupils to develop, communicate, learn and be active members of society. Leaders and staff know their pupils and care passionately about them.

They have an in-depth knowledge of the needs of each pupil. Pupils say they love school and they love learning.

Pupils behave well.

Classrooms are calm. Pupils' independence is promoted through all activities, supported by a highly skilled staff team. Pupils say they are not worried about bu...llying.

Any unkind behaviour is rare, but pupils understand that adults will help if it does occur.

All pupils are given a voice and take an active part in their learning. Support from staff is carried out with dignity and respect.

Pupils work hard and achieve well. Leaders are constantly reviewing and developing how the curriculum is delivered to meet the changing needs of pupils. Staff make sure that pupils have the right support so they can be ready for life in the wider world.

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

Leaders, staff and governors are ambitious for all pupils to achieve their potential. Leaders have thought carefully about what they want pupils to learn as they move through the school. Teachers understand pupils' specific special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in depth.

They use pupils' education, health and care (EHC) plans well to plan each pupils' learning. Support workers in each classroom have specialist skills to support pupils' learning. Staff training is strong and it is clear that it is beginning to lead to improvements in the curriculum.

This is not yet consistently in place across all subjects. It is apparent that there is scope for further improvement in developing pupils' comprehension skills and opportunities to write across the curriculum.

Leaders want all pupils to be able to communicate and be ready to learn.

As soon as pupils join the school, they are supported to develop their communication skills in a variety of ways. These include eye-gaze technology and signing, which enable pupils to access the curriculum and prepare for life after school.

Leaders continue to amend and develop the curriculum.

Pupils enjoy a range of activities to develop their attention and listening skills.

Staff prioritise the teaching of reading. Pupils who are able, learn to read.

All pupils develop their love of reading by experiencing a variety of stories. These stories are carefully chosen to excite and educate pupils. Staff explain difficult concepts well, using a wide variety of resources.

For example, they use a bird's nest to help pupils understand what Mr Twit's beard was like. This helps pupils develop a clear understanding of what they are reading. Few pupils say they read at home and those who do choose books at a lower level than they are exposed to at school.

Teachers manage pupils' behaviour well. Pupils are highly respectful to their friends, teachers and visitors to the school.

Leaders work hard to make sure pupils attend school as much as they can, and they are working with external agencies to foster more positive attitudes towards school attendance for identified pupils.

Pupils learn from a tailored personal, social, health and citizenship education programme. Pupils learn about life in modern Britain and discuss topical issues. Pupils take part in high-quality trips and visits, which include visits to an art gallery and places of worship.

In addition, leaders invite a wide range of visitors to the school. Pupils particularly enjoyed their sessions with an Indian dance troupe, where they learned about culture and religion through dance and discussion. The curriculum is strong and benefits most pupil groups well.

In developing an exemplary curriculum, there is further work to do so that the most disadvantaged consistently benefit from these rich experiences.

Pupils are supported to be aware of the risks to their safety. They understand how to keep themselves healthy and how to stay safe online.

Pupils are also given opportunities to help and support others. For example, the 'Thumbs-Up' squad allows older pupils to support younger pupils to make friends and play together. Leaders promote every opportunity for pupils' voices to be heard.

Pupils are particularly proud of the work of the school council.

Children in the early years make a strong start to their education. They have personalised, bespoke timetables.

Children learn to communicate well, using words, sounds and symbols. They settle quickly into school routines within their specific class. Children enjoy the outside area, where they learn and explore through a range of activities, including water and sand play.

Adults support the children to play with others and develop key social skills.

Staff effectively support sixth-form students to gain appropriate qualifications and skills before they leave the school. Workplace visits allow older students to mix with members of the community and get a taste for life in the world of work.

Students learn vital skills in budgeting and cooking. Development is ongoing for the schools' 14-19 provision, to increase the level of choice given to pupils.

Leaders and governors are clear about which aspects of the school are in development.

For example, they are continuing to develop links with parents and the community. The high aspirations and care of leaders are shared by staff at all levels.

Staff say that leaders care about their well-being.

They speak very highly of the support they receive. All staff are proud to work at the school.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders carry out thorough checks to ensure all adults are safe to work with pupils. Safeguarding training is regular and relevant. Staff are fully aware of their responsibilities to keep children safe.

Exceptionally strong knowledge of each pupil and strong relationships between pupils and staff ensure that staff notice immediately when pupils might be at risk of harm. Staff swiftly pass on any concerns when they arise. These are dealt with promptly.

Leaders ensure that pupils get the help and support they need.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

Although the overall quality of education is good, leaders have acknowledged that there are areas that need further strengthening. For example, leaders should continue the ongoing work to develop pupils' comprehension skills and increase opportunities for pupils to write across the curriculum.

This will ensure that all pupils continue to develop their knowledge and skills even more effectively.

Pupils do not achieve as well as they could when teachers' understanding of non-core subjects is less secure. Leaders should continue to check that all teaching is consistently focused, and feedback is clear to pupils in order to ensure understanding.

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