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Ipswich special school rated ‘requires improvement’ - but praised in several areas

Parkside Academy is making 'deep and vast' changes to its curriculum. Picture: THE RAEDWALD TRUST

Parkside Academy is making 'deep and vast' changes to its curriculum. Picture: THE RAEDWALD TRUST

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Ipswich’s Parkside Academy for children with special educational needs has been graded as “requires improvement” by Ofsted - but praised and rated as “good” by inspectors in a number of areas.

Sign language is one of things taught at Parkside Academy. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Sign language is one of things taught at Parkside Academy. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

A report published by the education regulator this month rated the Raedwald Trust school as “good” for pupils’ behaviour and attitudes as well as their personal development, with lead inspector Lynda Walker saying: “Pupils appreciate that they can be themselves and it does not matter if they are different.”

But the school’s grading as “requires improvement” for quality of education, as well as leadership and management, brought down its overall level - with Ofsted raising concerns about attendance and saying: “Not enough staff are expert in managing pupils’ needs and anxieties.”

Angela Ransby, chief executive of the Raedwald Trust, said the academy - which is run over three sites and also helps to teach some pupils in mainstream schools - is making “deep and vast” changes to its curriculum which mean it will be able to provide teaching in 15 GCSE subjects, including modern foreign languages.

MORE: Parkside Academy in Ipswich teaches pupils sign language

“The release of this curriculum, which will come into place in September, heralds a new phase in the trust’s evolution,” she said.

Ofsted’s report said: “Leaders and trustees have an ambitious vision for pupils’ success.

“Leaders have an accurate view of the school. Staff are working hard with leaders to ensure that the quality of education improves so it is more consistent across the three sites.”

Inspectors said that “leaders aim for all pupils to obtain qualifications that will help pupils be successful beyond this school” - but added: “However, in Key Stage 4, teachers are often too focused on preparing pupils to answer examination questions.

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“Teachers do not check that pupils have learned the most important details about a topic before they move on to something new.”

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It said that, although attendance had improved, “leaders need to continue to be tenacious in their approach to improving the attendance of individuals”.

However, Ofsted praised pupils’ “opportunities to develop their personal and social skills”, adding that: “Pupils spoke confidently about how adults teach them to keep safe.”

Young people also have opportunities to discuss topics such as drug misuse and knife crimes, inspectors said.

Ms Ransby said: “We are delighted that Ofsted has recognised the extensive work we do to mitigate risk and make our pupils feel safe, so that they have the best possible chance of a good education.

“We agree with the judgements Ofsted has made and appreciate the lengths inspectors went to really understand our schools and the work we do here. They have had to assess three very different schools teaching three cohorts of children on three separate journeys.

“We are honest about the challenges we face as a school. Many of the children we teach have extraordinary needs.

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“Our pupils come to us with a range of academic backgrounds. Many have had turbulent and disjointed experiences of school and we have the complex task of organising a personalised curriculum around each child that reflects their journey.

“We have a clear vision for our schools which we are realising through stronger leadership and a culture of professional growth that is helping us to get to the heart of our teaching and learning practice.”


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