|Name||Birch Wood (Melton Area Special School)|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Good|
|Inspection Date||10 December 2014|
|Address||Grange Drive, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE13 1HA|
|Religious Character||Does Not Apply|
|Number of Pupils||155 (61% boys 39% girls)|
|Percentage Free School Meals||29.8%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||1.9%|
Information about this school
Birch Wood is a split site area special school serving mainly north-east Leicestershire and providing education for pupils with moderate, severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Site one provides for pupils from early years to Year 14 with complex special educational needs and site two provides for pupils with moderate learning difficulties. Approximately 60% of the pupils have complex special educational needs including autistic spectrum disorder, behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, physical disabilities, speech, language and communication needs or sensory impairments. All pupils have a statement of special educational needs or an education health and care plan. Most pupils are White British. There are twice as many boys than girls. An average proportion (34%) of pupils are known to be eligible for the pupil premium, which is additional government funding for those known to be eligible for free school meals or in local authority care. The very few children in the early years attend full time. Some students in the sixth form attend either Brooksby College or Melton Learning Hub for half a day per week, as part of their education, to follow work-related courses. Inspectors were aware during the inspection that a serious incident which occurred at the setting since the previous inspection is under investigation by the appropriate authorities. While Ofsted does not have the power to investigate incidents of this kind, actions taken by the setting in response to the incident were considered alongside the other evidence available at the time of the inspection to inform inspectors’ judgements. There have been two changes of headteacher since the previous inspection. The deputy headteacher was appointed acting headteacher in February 2014 and a new headteacher was appointed in August 2014. A new Chair of the Governing Body took up post in September 2014.
Summary of key findings for parents and pupils
This is a good school. Following a period of changes in headship, strong direction from the acting headteacher and inspired leadership of the new headteacher have enabled the school to rapidly improve over the past year. Leaders and governors are making sure that teaching and achievement are continuing to improve. Leaders ensure that pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is promoted well. The school’s efforts to keep pupils safe are good. All policies and procedures have been reviewed and strengthened, helped by strong links with parents. Pupils’ behaviour is good and they have good attitudes to learning. Teachers make good use of probing questions and well-chosen resources to stimulate pupils’ learning. Teaching assistants provide good support for learning. They work well together with teachers to promote pupils’ communication skills. Pupils make good progress in communication, reading, writing and mathematics. Older pupils and students in the sixth form make good progress on their examination courses. Children in the early years settle in quickly and make good progress as a result of good leadership and good teaching. The sixth form is good. Leaders make sure that teaching is good and students are well prepared for the next stage of their lives. It is not yet an outstanding school because : A few remaining weaknesses in teaching hold back pupils’ achievement. Pupils do not always know how well they are doing or how to extend their thinking. Occasionally a few pupils find their work too difficult or too easy.