School calls Ofsted review ‘harsh’ after being given ‘requires improvement’ rating

A Chelmsford secondary school has been told special education needs provision is not good enough as it is deemed as requires improvement – a rating the school has described as “harsh”.

Ofsted says special educational needs and disabled (SEND) pupils at The Sandon School “do not learn as well as they should”. This is “because teachers do not adapt the way they teach” for the pupils and the school should ensure that teachers know how to meet the needs of the different pupils in their classes.

It adds teachers fail to check well enough whether pupils understand what they have been taught meaning that “misconceptions and misunderstandings are overlooked or remain unnoticed for too long by staff”.

A statement from the report said: “Some teachers do not check effectively that pupils, including students in the sixth form, have learned what they are taught. If pupils do not know the answer to a question, it is too easy for them to mask this.

“The school has not ensured all teachers understand well enough how to support pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Too often, teachers do not adapt their teaching to meet pupils’ needs. They do not do enough to help pupils with SEND learn the curriculum. As a result, pupils do not achieve as well as they should.”

However it has been told behaviour is judged to be good, sensible and positive.

The report says: “Pupils’ behaviour is sensible and positive. The school has adopted new approaches to managing behaviour and reduced its use of suspensions.

“While behaviour is good, the school does not monitor trends and patterns in behaviour well enough. For instance, the school does not know if the reduction in suspensions has been brought about by better behaviour or by the use of different sanctions for the same behaviours. This lessens their ability to improve behaviour further.”

Headteacher Andy Weaver said: “The recent Ofsted report says many very positive things about our school and I urge people to read it in full. The report recognizes our calm and safe environment where behaviour is judged to be good, sensible and positive.

“Ours is a school where students are comfortable being themselves and where their personal development is a strength. Our safeguarding is effective. We were also pleased that the key role that students including our sixth formers play in wanting to contribute to the school and our wider community has been mentioned.

“We are extremely disappointed by the overall judgement which we feel is a harsh decision not seen in other inspections. However, we are taking the inspectors’ findings seriously and are embarked on a program of review and development work bringing in expertise from outside school to ensure that we make the improvements required.

“I and colleagues are extremely grateful for the huge numbers of positive messages and support received in school from parents and members of the local community since the report was published.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter