Mill Water School is good with outstanding features

Posted on: 18 May 2017

Every aspect of life at a Devon special school has been rated as good by independent inspectors who say it has some outstanding features.

They say Mill Water School has made significant improvements since it was last inspected two years ago.

Mill Water, which caters for children aged from three to 19 with severe and profound learning difficulties, has been rated as good in every area of school life with outstanding personal development, behaviour and welfare by Ofsted.

Senior Ofsted inspector Jen Southall spent two days at the school last month and her report has just been published.

Ms Southall concludes: “The drive, determination and energy of leaders at all levels have led to significant improvements since the last inspection.

“Staff share the high aspirations of leaders and are unrelenting in their pursuit to provide pupils with the very best learning experiences.

“Relationships between staff and pupils are extremely strong and are built on mutual support and trust. This enables pupils to feel safe and secure.

“Staff are vigilant in all aspects of pupil welfare and safeguard them effectively. Behaviour is typically outstanding. Pupils demonstrate positive attitudes to all that school has to offer and behave well in lessons and around the school.”

Ms Southall says that teachers’ knowledge of what each pupil can and cannot do is impressive.

They use that knowledge to plan learning that precisely meets the needs of pupils, helping them to develop skills and confidently tackle a range of activities.

“The curriculum is bespoke to meet the individual needs of pupils, complemented by a wide range of enrichment activities,” she says.

“The school provides pupils with a range of high quality therapeutic provision; this makes a positive contribution to pupils’ physical and emotional development.”

Ms Southall says most parents speak extremely positively about the work of the school.

“Comments such as ‘an excellent school, can’t knock it’, ‘the school is almost like another family, home from home and so we have a bigger and brighter future’ and ‘Mill Water is a fantastic school’ are just a few of the many positive comments about the school,” she says.

To improve still further, Mill Water should be even more specific about monitoring actions to improve outcomes and should also improve communications – particularly with parents.

Interim headteacher, Clive Padgett said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the inspection particularly given the new Ofsted framework which is so much more demanding than previous ones.

“We are so pleased that our progress has been recognised despite the raising of the bar. The school has been on a long journey of improvement and this result is a testament to all in school who have been unrelenting over time in pursuit of excellence for all young people at Mill Water School.

“The inspector recognised the key focus that leaders have had in ensuring that children have outstanding levels of personal development, and outstanding support for behaviour and welfare. This is the result of a great deal of work from everyone towards all aspects of safeguarding our children.

“One of the most pleasing aspects of the inspection is the praise given to the quality of relationships between staff and children. This was commented on early in the inspection process and highlights the strength of mutual trust and support to enable all young people to be safe and secure.

“We will now concentrate on what we need to do to achieve the very best standards of care and education for our children.”

Chair of governors, Maggie Carter, said: “The whole governing body are really pleased and proud of the staff and pupils at Mill Water and delighted that the achievements and atmosphere of the school are reflected in the outcomes of the Ofsted inspection.

“The result is the culmination of strong leadership and hard work by Sarah Pickering and her leadership team over the past two years who, supported by the governors, have made changes and improvements to all aspects of school life, embraced by the whole school team.

“The governing body are looking forward to continuing the school’s journey of improvement together.”

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Posted in: Education