Willow Dene School

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About Willow Dene School

Name Willow Dene School
Ofsted Inspections
Executive Headteacher Ms Rachel Harrison
Address Swingate Lane, Plumstead, SE18 2JD
Phone Number 02088549841
Phase Academy (special)
Type Academy special converter
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 272
Local Authority Greenwich
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils thrive and excel at this exceptional school. Leaders and staff have very high expectations for all pupils. They work hard to make sure that learning is fun and that lessons capture the interests of the pupils.

Behaviour at the school is exemplary. It is a calm and orderly environment for everyone. Sometimes, pupils need extra help to manage their feelings.

Staff help them to become calm again so that they can get back on with their lessons as soon as possible.

Pupils who attend the school need extra help. This is because of their special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Staff are very well trained. They understand the complex needs of pu...pils and how to help them. Pupils like coming to school.

They are happy to see their friends and teachers each day. Leaders deal with any friendship issues or unkindness quickly. Bullying is never tolerated.

Resources at the school are excellent. The learning environments are well designed and maintained. This includes the attractive and inspiring outside areas.

The safety, personal development and well-being of pupils are a priority. Parents and carers feel welcome at the school.

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

Leaders know their pupils well.

They have ensured that the curriculum is ambitious and specialised. The expertise of therapists is woven through the school day.

Leaders sequence learning very well.

The curriculum ensures that pupils build up knowledge and skills over time. Adults use their deep knowledge of pupils' needs to design engaging and inspiring lessons. Leaders check that the curriculum is being implemented well and that pupils are achieving.

Leaders have put independence and communication at the heart of the curriculum. Staff make sure that pupils have opportunities to make meaningful choices in lessons and throughout the day. This helps pupils to prepare for their next steps.

The curriculum supports all pupils to develop literacy skills. Some pupils can engage with phonics and text. Other pupils enjoy and experience a wide range of stories and poems through sensory approaches.

Leaders focus on reading. Teachers use high-quality texts as starting points for learning. Pupils demonstrate their enjoyment through high levels of participation and interest.

Pupils show how much they like coming to school in the happy way that they arrive in the morning. Relationships between adults and pupils are a strength of the school. Sometimes, pupils need help to manage their emotions.

Staff intervene quickly and sensitively, so that pupils can continue with their learning.Parents are very happy with the work that leaders and staff do to help their child enjoy school and achieve well. Parents also value the help that staff provide to support them at home, for example with practical help to manage their child's behaviour.

Staff feel valued by leaders. They say that they 'never have a Monday morning feeling'. The positive school culture is a credit to leaders and governors.

They have worked hard to make sure that staff are well trained and supported.

The personal development of pupils is of the highest quality. The curriculum includes a rich programme of visits, visitors and extra activities, such as a forest school, an allotment, school chickens and a well-resourced swimming pool.

This supports pupils' wider development well.

Careers education is meticulously planned and sequenced. Pupils learn about the world of work and how to prepare for their future life as adults.

As in the rest of the school, the curriculum in the early years is well constructed by leaders. Teachers design lessons skilfully using their detailed understanding of each child's starting point. Children develop their communication skills and learn new vocabulary.

There are excellent resources in the early years that interest and motivate children. As a result, they deepen their curiosity and learn to focus for longer periods of time. Leaders and staff are observant to the needs of the very young children in the early years.

All staff pay particular attention to children's emotional development.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders have embedded a rigorous approach to safeguarding.

Staff are very well trained and they use this understanding, along with their detailed knowledge of pupils' needs, to check for any changes in well-being and safety.

Staff recognise any signs of concern at an early stage and report these quickly. Leaders deal with concerns promptly and effectively, involving external agencies when necessary.

The curriculum teaches pupils how to keep themselves safe. They learn about friendships and relationships at a level that is appropriate to their individual needs.

Leaders complete the appropriate pre-employment checks when recruiting new staff.

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