Oak Lodge School


Name Oak Lodge School
Website http://www.oaklodgeschool.org
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 18 September 2019
Address Heath View, East Finchley, London, N2 0QY
Phone Number 02084446711
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 11-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 189 (65% boys 35% girls)
Academy Sponsor Barnet Special Education Trust
Local Authority Barnet
Percentage Free School Meals 33.3%
Percentage English is Not First Language 36.5%
Persisitent Absence 14.6%
Pupils with SEN Support 0.5%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Outcome

Oak Lodge School continues to be an outstanding school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Every pupil is made to feel special in this school, no matter what their background. Pupils receive high-quality care and attention that are well matched to their needs. As a result, they thoroughly enjoy attending the school.

Pupils behave remarkably well throughout the school day. When the bell goes after break, they make their way straight to lessons without any reminders from staff. Pupils told us that this is normal. In lessons, pupils settle down to work quickly. Staff are very alert to pupils’ feelings and emotions. They know exactly when to step in to provide extra care and attention so that learning can continue without interruption.

Bullying is rare. Pupils trust adults to sort out any problems should they occur. Staff care deeply about pupils. If any child is feeling anxious, staff are quick to provide the care they need to help them get back into the ‘green zone’.

Leaders ensure that pupils leave the school ready for the next stage, be it education, work or training. All pupils move on in this way. They gain the skills and knowledge needed to become more independent and confident about themselves. Indeed, this is the main goal for all pupils shared by staff, governors, parents and carers.

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

Leaders and governors have created a climate in which pupils with high needs behave well and work hard. They have done this by looking carefully at the needs of every child when they join the school. Pupils join the school with high levels of need. The education provided is closely matched to what parents expect and pupils require. This is the secret of the school’s remarkable success.

Staff have detailed knowledge about what makes pupils tick. They use this to plan exceptionally well for pupils’ individual needs.Leaders have reviewed and improved the plans for what pupils should learn in eachsubject. The curriculum is very well designed. For instance, a range of option subjects are available in key stages 4 and 5 that appeal strongly to pupils’ interests. Considerable thought and attention are given to the order in which things are taught. For example, in digital media, pupils learn about still and moving images before they learn about film making. The education pupils receive is of high quality.

Teachers understand that most pupils forget things quickly and find it hard to recall important ideas. They tackle this by repeating important information regularly and in different ways, then checking that pupils know it. As a result, pupils build up their knowledge and skills in small steps. This gives them the confidence to move on to the next stage. Over time, almost all pupils achieve their goals – in particular, those related to developing stronger communication skills.

Pupils make strong progress across the curriculum in all key stages. This includes the high proportion of disadvantaged pupils in the school. In mathematics, many pupils in key stage 4 have learned the skills and knowledge needed to buy a product from a local shop. This includes counting coins and notes, and working out how much change should be received. Pupils are strongly encouraged to persist and achieve their best, with the right level of support always in place. Entry-level and sometimes GCSE qualifications are achieved by pupils in key stages 4 and 5; for example in subjects such as mathematics, digital media, music, and hair and beauty. Pupils have learned how to make an advertisement and how to play an instrument using stave notation. They also take part in worthwhile work experience.

Pupils have a wide range of interesting experiences in and out of school. Carefully chosen frequent trips are an embedded feature of the school’s curriculum. Opportunities to develop talk and use increasingly rich language are skilfully woven into learning activities. Where pupils struggle with speech, non-verbal communication is used extremely well to keep them involved. This markedly improves pupils’ social and emotional skills, and prepares them well for adult life.

Staff morale is high; teachers feel well supported. Staff receive regular quality training to further improve their specialist knowledge and skills. Teachers told inspectors that leaders have begun to take important steps to reduce unnecessary workload. Staff appreciate this.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders have developed a strong culture of safeguarding. Thorough systems are in place for the safe recruitment of staff and to record safeguarding concerns. Staff are well trained and are clear about the actions they must take if they have concerns about a child or a member of staff. Leaders follow up concerns tenaciously and will escalate them to the appropriate agencies where necessary. Leaders have strong knowledge of issues in the local community. They work well with external partners, such as the local police and local authority, to address them.

Background

When 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 the predecessor school, Oak Lodge School, to be outstanding in December 2013.