Warm and caring Devon special school produces successful students

School playground

Posted on: 9 January 2017

Staff and students at a North Devon special school are celebrating after education and social care inspectors from Ofsted said they had made significant improvements over the last three years and could now be rated as good across the board.

Marland School has a residential school at Peters Marland for boys aged from 10 to 16 and a co-educational day school at Springfield Court in Barnstaple currently providing education for boys aged from eight to 16.

Students have special educational needs associated with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

Three years ago inspectors from the school standards agency, Ofsted, judged that Marland required improvement.

Now, following a three-day inspection involving three inspectors before Christmas, the school has been judged as good or better across all nine separate categories.

Lead inspector, Andy Lole, says the overall effectiveness of the school is good and he has also given across the board judgements of good for:

  • The effectiveness of leadership and management
  • The quality of teaching and learning
  • The personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils
  • Outcomes for pupils

He also gives specific ratings of good to the residential provision for:

  • The overall experiences and progress of pupils
  • The quality of care and support
  • How well pupils are protected
  • The impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers

Mr Lole concludes:

“Under the clear and determined leadership of the principal, ably supported by a strong leadership team, the school has made good improvements since the last inspection.

“Governors effectively support senior leaders (and) work well as a team.

“A strength of the school is the depth of relationships between pupils and staff. The staff are committed and passionate about supporting pupils. They provide a warm, caring environment with the addition of humour and affection.

“All groups of pupils make good academic and personal progress….in a wide range of subjects and activities.

“All pupils who left the school last summer obtained a good range and quantity of qualifications. The vast majority moved onto education, employment or training.

“A strength of teaching is the breadth of the curriculum and how this supports individual pupils’ career aspirations.

“Pupils receive targeted, bespoke support that enables them to be successful and make progress.”

Mr Lole says the vast majority of parents are very positive about the school.

One said:  “My son has been at the school for just over a year and we have seen a dramatic change in his attitude and behaviour.”

To get even better, Mr Lole says the school should ensure new teachers know how the school’s behaviour management policy operates and use assessment information to tailor work to each pupil.

Leaders and managers should also improve their understanding of national standards in English and maths and how pupils perform in other schools and ensure pupils who make a complaint have adequate opportunity to feedback on how it is dealt with.

Marland School principal Keith Bennett said: “This three-day Ofsted integrated education and residential care joint inspection was an intense process but one with a positive outcome and we are very pleased that the inspectors’ findings matched our own self-evaluation.

“Marland School has continued to develop and improve on both sites in spite of regularly increasing Ofsted expectations combined with public sector financial reductions and limitations.

“Achieving the overall grading of good in all nine categories is a major accomplishment and a true reflection of the hard work put in by staff, governors, students and parents alike and I am very grateful for their support.”

Posted in: Education