Dryden School


Name Dryden School
Website http://drydenschool.co.uk/
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 19 November 2019
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%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Outcome

Dryden School continues to be an outstanding school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils enjoy attending Dryden School. Pupils told us that they really like their school and described it as ‘amazing’. They feel happy and safe here because they know that adults care about them. Pupils are supported in a very individual way. Staff help pupils to develop their confidence. Staff also promote pupil interaction at break and lunchtimes. Staff make sure that the school values of kindness, challenge, resilience, respect, independence and honesty are reflected in everything that they do.

Leaders have high expectations of what pupils are able to achieve. Staff make sure that pupils gain knowledge and experience of the wider world. Pupils thrive in their personal development. They take part in an excellent range of out of classroom activities. They learn through real-life experiences such as visits to the local supermarket or working in the school’s cafe. Pupils are able to link their trips and visits to their learning in the classroom. This leads to valuable work-related learning and opportunities for future employment.

Pupils behave very well in school and do not feel that bullying happens at Dryden. They are confident that if pupils were unkind, the staff in school would act quickly. Well-trained staff help pupils to cope with any anxieties they may have.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Leaders have thought very carefully about what pupils should learn. The staff have developed a themed approach which helps learners to develop their understanding in an engaging way. Staff continue to develop the curriculum to meet the needs of each pupil. They have high expectations about the skills, knowledge and understanding that pupils need to help them to be successful. Staff teach the subjects of the national curriculum to all pupils, whatever their ability, at the level which best suits their needs. Teachers meet the range of pupils’ needs extremely well, and pupils achieve their best.

Leaders continue to develop accreditation routes which are carefully considered to meetthe needs of each pupil best. Staff know precisely what to teach to build each individual’s skills and knowledge. Sometimes staff show pupils what to do and encourage them to copy. Other pupils are encouraged to think and try out their skills and knowledge for themselves. For example, adults might show a pupil how they can use picture symbols. Other pupils might write a short sentence on their own, using capital letters and full stops.

Pupils are keen to join in lessons. If a pupil struggles to cope, adults are quick to calm them so they do not unsettle other pupils. Many pupils at the school find learning difficult and struggle to remember information. We saw that adults are very skilful at helping pupils to overcome this. They get pupils to practise their skills many times and in different ways. For example, a pupil may learn counting skills and then practise them outdoors, shopping, in food preparation, in other subject areas and in number games and songs. Staff give pupils who are able lots of practice at reading. The teachers use many different ways to help the pupils to learn to read.

Pupils have excellent opportunities to enjoy a wide range of extra activities at school. For example, they learn to be healthy by getting involved in sport, team-building activities, yoga, dance, mindfulness and cooking healthy meals. We saw pupils of all abilities enjoying their choir and practising for their Christmas show, taking part in school dance clubs and bowling sessions. The activities were sensitively adapted to meet the needs of all pupils. Pupils with high-level physical need were supported to ‘dance’ with those more physically able. All pupils showed delight in the music and movement.

Staff in the sixth form help students to feel more independent. All students work toward accreditation. Teachers support students to learn skills and knowledge that will help them to be independent in the community or at work. For example, students spend time in the ‘bungalow’ to practise the skills they need. They also spend time on work experience. Students feel supported in their ‘next steps’ once they leave school.

Staff feel that leaders listen to them and feel valued by the school leaders. Parents and carers have shared their appreciation of the staff’s hard work to support their young people.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Safeguarding is a strength of the school. The safeguarding and protection of pupils is extremely important to adults in the school. Staff are exceptional at caring for very vulnerable pupils and take their responsibility very seriously. Leaders make sure that all the school policies and procedures are clear. Staff know them in detail through effective training. Any concerns about a pupil’s safety or welfare are swiftly reported to the safeguarding team. Leaders follow up these concerns promptly. Adults make sure that pupils and their families are well looked after and supported. They work efficiently with external professionals to make sure that pupils get the help they need.

BackgroundWhen we have judged a special school to be outstanding we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains outstanding. This is called a section 8 inspection of a good school or non-exempt outstanding school. We do not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection. However, if we find some evidence that the school could now be better than good or that standards may be declining, then the next inspection will be a section 5 inspection. Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the section 8 inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will convert the section 8 inspection to a section 5 inspection immediately.

This is the first section 8 inspection since we judged Dryden School to be outstanding on 24–25 June 2015.