Thornbury school is told it must improve

A SPECIAL school in Thornbury has been told it must improve its curriculum following an inspection by Ofsted.

The education regulator visited Sheiling School in Park Road in November and its report said that overall the school ‘requires improvement’.

The same rating was given to the school’s quality of education, and leadership and management. But pupils’ behaviour and attitudes, personal development and the school’s sixth form provision were judge to be ‘good’ by the team of three inspectors.

Sheiling School charges local authorities up to £90,000 a year for placements, with some day pupils and some boarders among its 29 pupils, aged six to 19.

The inspectors said the school provided a “calm and nurturing environment” for pupils, who all have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). 

The report said: “The school understands the individual needs of pupils well.

“The school places high importance on the curriculum, which includes an individualised therapeutic approach. 

“However, the curriculum in most subjects is not well enough designed to build on what pupils know and can do.

“Pupils do not yet benefit from a high-quality education.”

High expectations for pupils

Ofsted said the school has high expectations for pupils’ behaviour, and pupils know they have a voice and feel valued.

The inspectors said: “The school understands the importance of pupils learning to read fluently. Pupils’ individual starting points have been carefully considered in reading. “

They praised the way the school prioritises pupils’ personal development, saying: “Pupils are taught how to form positive and healthy relationships.

“The school provides pupils with carefully-designed opportunities to become active citizens. These include enrichment programmes, trips and work experience placements. 

“Staff think carefully about the skills pupils need to become independent.

“The careers programme supports pupils to have rich experiences within the wider community. This develops pupils’ self-awareness and self-confidence.”

The inspectors said that in order to improve the school should ensure that small steps of learning are well-sequenced so that pupils build on what they already know and can do, and ensure all staff provide effective support to those pupils who find reading more challenging.

Principal is ‘disappointed’

Principal Justin Davey, who took over the school last October said that while he was disappointed with the report, he and his staff were already working on changes.

Mr Davey said: “We are obviously disappointed with the result of Sheiling School’s most recent Ofsted inspection, but as recent media coverage has highlighted, the overall grading is a blunt tool and does not necessarily capture the many amazing aspects of the school which actually secured ‘Good’ gradings for Behaviour and Attitudes, Personal Development and our Sixth-form provision.

“We do, however, welcome the recommendations for improvement and are working hard to implement changes to continue to develop the quality and efficacy of our provision.

“The students and our great team of people, as ever, remain our top priority.”