Dryden School

Name Dryden School
Website http://drydenschool.co.uk/
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 24 June 2015
Address Shotley Gardens, Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE9 5UR
Phone Number 01914203811
Type Special
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Local Authority Gateshead
Percentage Free School Meals 37.5%

Information about this school

The Dryden School serves students between the ages of 11 and 19 years who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. In April 2013, Dryden School moved from a soft federation to a hard federation with Hill Top School and a new executive headteacher was appointed in January 2015. All students have a statement of special educational needs. Students are mostly drawn from the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. Most students are from White British backgrounds and speak English as their first language. A very few students are looked after by the local authority. A third of students, an above average figure, are disadvantaged and are known to be eligible for free school meals. They are, therefore, eligible for support through the pupil premium. This is additional funding for those students known to be eligible for free school meals and those who are looked after by the local authority. The school does not use any alternative provision for students. The school holds the International School Award, the ACT Citizenship Quality Standard, and Arts Mark Gold. It is also a nationally accredited Healthy School and is involved in the Comenius School Partnership.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. The exceptional leadership of the executive headteacher, school headteacher and the senior leadership team has enabled the school to build on the many strengths found at the previous inspection. Together, they provide inspirational leadership to other staff and ensure that teaching and overall performance continue to improve apace. The impressive and highly skilled governing body ensures that it has an accurate view of the school’s still improving performance, including the quality of teaching and students’ achievement. Governors check that disadvantaged students who are supported through additional funding achieve at least as well as their classmates. Middle leaders receive good support from senior leaders and contribute to their work to raise achievement and improve teaching. However, insufficient time has elapsed to enable them to develop their skills fully in analysing the impact of the new curriculum on improving students’ progress and attainment. Teaching is outstanding. Teachers and teaching assistants are highly skilled in working with students with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Students across the school achieve outstandingly well. Progress in their key communication skills is of very high quality because of the skilled use of signs and symbols. The most-able students make remarkable gains in reading, writing and mathematics. High quality spiritual, moral, cultural and social development is a strength of the school and underpins every aspect of its work. Parents are overwhelming pleased with the school. They enjoy the weekly invitation to the ‘café morning’ and the regular contact they have with school staff. The curriculum is based on a thorough assessment of individual needs. Furthermore, it prepares students well for the next stage of their education and life in modern Britain. Innovative systems are firmly in place to check students’ progress and, as a result, any student who falls behind quickly catches up. Behaviour and safety are outstanding. Students who are able to express their views all say that they enjoy school, feel safe and that behaviour is very good. The sixth form is outstanding. Students gain a wide range of qualifications, benefit from a bespoke curriculum and enjoy excellent vocational opportunities. The very strong, caring ethos is immediately evident on entering the school. This creates an oasis where students are enthusiastic about their learning and thrive, particularly in their personal and social development.