Daventry special school bosses need more time to improve teaching

Daventry Hill School
Daventry Hill School

A special school has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted inspectors who said the school's new leadership team has not yet had time to bring about improvements.

Daventry Hill School opened in 2016 for children aged five to 18 with severe or complex learning difficulties.

After a turbulent two years, the school joined the Creating Tomorrow Multi Academy Trust in October 2018 and appointed a new leadership team, but when Ofsted inspectors visited in June, they said that the impact of the changes had yet to be felt.

Inspectors judged the quality of teaching and pupil outcomes as inadequate and said that the effectiveness of leadership and pupils' personal development, behaviour and welfare requires improvement.

However, Kevin Latham, the trust's CEO, said that the foundations are now in place to bring about improvements and that staff are committed to building on the changes that have already been made, including a new curriculum and assessment scheme.

In their report, inspectors noted: "The quality of teaching is poor. Too many teachers do not plan learning to help pupils develop their knowledge and skills effectively. The most able pupils underachieve.

"Leaders do not hold teachers to account well enough for the progress that pupils make. Teaching is inadequate."

They also raised concerns about the high rate of exclusions compared to similar schools, saying: "Although exclusions have reduced in the current year, some staff are not skilled enough to support pupils who have more severe social, emotional and mental health needs."

Inspectors did however acknowledge the changes head of school Gareth Ivett and his team have brought about, but said they haven't had sufficient time to improve teaching and pupil outcomes.

Their report reads: "The new leadership team has made a positive difference. They have prioritised pupils’ safety and behaviour. Safeguarding arrangements are now effective. The school is a calm and orderly environment and pupils’ behaviour and attendance are improving. The school’s new curriculum is supporting the pupils to understand their emotions and to feel safe.

"Leadership of the school has strengthened recently. New leaders lost no time in identifying and tackling the most urgent priorities.

"Since the school joined the Creating Tomorrow Multi Academy Trust, pupils’ behaviour has improved, and attendance has started to rise. Leaders have demonstrated the capacity to make improvements and pupils are ready to learn.

"Despite these positive changes, senior leaders have not yet had sufficient time to improve the quality of teaching and pupils’ outcomes."

The trust said that the school faced pressures when it first opened in 2016 after it accepted a large number of students who were previously home educated or who had social emotional and mental health needs. It says that the school was not prepared or resourced to meet these needs and so struggled to offer an appropriate education.

Mr Latham said: "We are all obviously disappointed with the overall judgement of inadequate, but we are very pleased that the inspectors highlighted the hard work that the staff and leaders have undertaken to start turning Daventry Hill School around.

"For the first time in three years, Year 11 students left Daventry Hill School this year with qualifications and all leavers have places at college – we think this is a success.

"We would like all students and families, and the local community, to know that everyone is committed to making sure that Daventry Hill continues to build on the foundations now in place, to quickly provide the education all the students deserve."