The Wenlock School celebrates Outstanding Ofsted

The Wenlock School in Dudley – an independent special school catering for pupils aged seven to eighteen who have social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), a diagnosis of autism or demonstrate behaviours associated with autism – is celebrating its recent Outstanding Ofsted rating across all five inspection categories – quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development of pupils, leadership and management and sixth form provision. The Wenlock School is part of Acorn Education, a specialist provider of care and education for young people with complex needs.

Ofsted Inspectors praised the quality of education at the school saying, ‘Pupils thrive at this school because their individual needs are exceptionally well met.’ They applauded staff for ensuring that ‘pupils who come to this school know they can ‘dream big’, grow in confidence and achieve.’

It was noted that the school provides an ‘ambitious curriculum well matched to the pupils’ needs…prioritises reading, writing and mathematics,’ and ‘pupils spend plenty of time learning a broad range of subjects.’ Assessments are used ‘effectively to review the targets on pupils’ individual education plans and their education, health and care plans.’

They went on to say, ‘Pupils have frequent opportunities to apply their English and mathematical skills. This includes enterprise sessions where pupils make items in the school’s workshop to sell at community events. Recently, pupils have been measuring, marking out and making planters to a high standard. A planned marketing campaign by pupils is aimed at encouraging people to buy them’.

The choice of sports and physical activities available to the pupils was also applauded, ‘Pupils enjoy physical education. The curriculum is well sequenced so that pupils can develop and practise specific sports and motor skills. The wide range of activities on offer includes swimming, gymnastics and Thai boxing.’

Continuing the previous inspection rating of Outstanding for pupils’ behaviour and attitudes, the inspectors explained, ‘Pupils have highly positive attitudes towards school and learning’ and ‘respond well to teachers’ high expectations. Pupils work hard to produce the best work they are capable of..’

In the personal development of pupils the Inspectors observed that , ‘Pupils are prepared very well for the next stage of their education and future lives. For example, they complete work experience, take part in activities in the local community and learn how to manage their own money. Pupils also enjoy the wide range of experiences that are well matched to their interests.’

‘Leaders have carefully organised the content of the personal, social and health education curriculum so that pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for the future… Pupils know how to keep mentally and physically well, prepare healthy foods and are taught how to form positive relationships.’

Parents and carers are also ‘full of praise for the school. They are pleased with the social, emotional and academic progress their children have made since joining the school.’

Leadership and management were also rated Outstanding. The Inspectors remarked that ‘The school is exceptionally well led and managed. Members of the proprietor body are knowledgeable and experienced. The independent standards are met in full… The school building is maintained well. The learning environment supports pupils’ sensory and physical needs.’

‘The outdoor areas, including a large multi-sports, all-weather pitch, are well maintained. This area accommodates physical education and allows pupils to play together during breaktimes and lunchtimes… It is evident that pupils’ welfare, health and safety will be maintained if the material change is implemented.’

In response to the school’s plans to increase the number of pupils on role from 90-100, the inspectors agreed, ‘There is adequate classroom space, within the existing provision, to cater for additional pupils.’

This was the first inspection of the school’s sixth form, which was also rated Outstanding – ‘Pupils in key stages 4 and 5 experience a curriculum that is bespoke to their individual needs. Pupils can choose to study a mixture of examinations including GCSEs and A levels, as well as vocational studies linked to what they aim to study in college. Pupils are very well supported to make appropriate choices about the courses they select. This is based on their prior learning, interests and desired career path. Pupils receive excellent independent careers guidance. They visit local colleges and receive support to apply for courses and attend interviews.’

Commenting on the excellent Ofsted rating, Gemma Mann, Headteacher, said, “We are all extremely proud that Ofsted has judged The Wenlock School as Outstanding across the board. Since our last Ofsted inspection in 2018, the senior leadership team and staff worked hard to further improve the education for our young people. The improvement in rating from Good to Outstanding is affirmation of the continued development of the school, and the dedication and expertise of the staff.’