Brighton special school requires improvement says watchdog

A special school in Brighton has been rated as requires improvement by education watchdog Ofsted.

Despite the rating, Homewood College, in Queensdown School Road, off Lewes Road, Brighton, won praise from Ofsted and members of Brighton and Hove City Council.

Ofsted’s report said: “Pupils say they like the school because staff listen to them. All pupils have social, emotional, mental health needs (SEMH).

“Staff know pupils well and help them manage their emotions. This means that pupils are in the right frame of mind to work.

“Pupils told inspectors they feel safe at the school. If there is bullying, they know there is someone they can speak to who will help them.

“Pupils really enjoy all the different activities and trips they go on. For example, in physical education (PE) they go boxing and climbing.

“The school has bikes that the pupils maintain. Pupils and staff go on regular bike trips.

“One parent who completed Ofsted’s ‘Parent View’ survey said, ‘My child is happy, feels safe and enjoys going to school. The staff are lovely and understanding.’”

Labour councillor Kate Knight said: “As a parent, you can’t ask for more than that.”

She spoke when the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee met at Hove Town Hall on Monday (2 March).

Councillor Knight, the deputy chair of the committee, said: “Once you get past the hard Ofsted headline rating, I think the story is a bit different.”

The headline rating was a blow, she said, for a school with a “challenging and vulnerable” cohort of pupils.

Councillor Kate Knight

But, Councillor Knight added, improvements were under way – and she asked for an update on Homewood’s progress in six months.

Ofsted said that the school could take pupils from 5 to 19 years old and, at the time of the two-day inspection last December, had 46 children aged to 11 to 17 on the school roll – one of them a sixth former.

The report – by Ofsted inspectors Susan Conway and Charles Joseph – said: “Leaders know that the school requires improvement. They know what needs to be done and are starting to make the necessary changes.

“Many staff, including senior leaders, are new. Leaders have a clear vision for the quality of education but have not yet had time to make all the required improvements.”

The school has been run by executive head Louise Cook since April 2018. She is supported by head teacher Kate Schofield, with the former head of Hillside special school – now Hill Park – in Portslade, Bob Wall, chairing the governors.

Ofsted added: “Many pupils have poor literacy skills. There is effective individual help for some pupils to improve their reading, writing and spelling.

“However, there is not yet a whole-school approach to developing pupils’ reading and writing skills. As a result, pupils struggle to learn in other subjects as well.

“Staff work well with parents to improve pupils’ attendance. Despite this positive work, pupils do not attend school regularly enough.”

The school was rated as requires improvement when it was previously inspected in 2017.

To read the Ofsted report in full, click here.

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