Priestley Smith School

Name Priestley Smith School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 28 January 2015
Address Perry Beeches Campus, Beeches Road, Great Barr, Birmingham, West Midlands, B42 2PY
Phone Number 01213253900
Type Special
Age Range 2-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 87 (58% boys 42% girls)
Local Authority Birmingham
Percentage Free School Meals 38.8%
Percentage English is Not First Language 52.9%
Persisitent Absence 33.9%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about this school

This is a special school for pupils from nursery age through to the sixth form. All pupils have significant visual impairments and the large majority are registered as blind. Six children attend the nursery and Reception class (the Foundation Department), including one who attends part time. Almost two thirds of pupils have additional needs such as autistic spectrum disorders, social and emotional needs, moderate learning difficulties and medical needs. All students have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan, or are in the process of being assessed for one. The large majority of pupils are from Birmingham, although others come from nearby local authorities such as Wolverhampton, Solihull and Coventry. Most travel by taxi or minibus to school. A few older students travel independently. A high proportion of students, almost half, are supported by the pupil premium. This is the additional funding for disadvantaged pupils, which are those eligible for free school meals or looked after. Four fifths of pupils are from backgrounds other than White British. The largest group are from Pakistani and other Asian heritages. An increasing proportion are from Eastern Europe. A very high proportion, almost two thirds of all pupils, speak other languages as their main language; many are at the early stages of learning English when they enter the school. Priestley Smith is part of a teaching alliance with other Birmingham mainstream and special schools. Member schools support each other through reviewing the quality of each other’s work and providing staff training. About a third of children join the school in the Foundation Department or in Year 7. Over two thirds join at other times during their school-aged years, sometimes as late as Years 10 or 11, as well as in the sixth form. Almost a quarter of pupils transfer from Priestley Smith back into mainstream schools and colleges or into other special schools, particularly at the end of Year 11 but occasionally at other times in their school career. The school hosts the local authority mobility, reprographics and visual impairment technology services. It also provides an outreach service to other schools and families in conjunction with the local authority sensory support service. The school does not make use of alternative provision for its pupils.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. An exceptional headteacher and strong senior leadership team are ably supported by ever vigilant governors. Together they ensure that all pupils have the best possible opportunities to succeed in every aspect of their learning. Pupils achieve extremely well because staff have expert knowledge in their subjects. They know how to promote the learning of pupils who have visual impairment extremely well. The most able achieve as well, and sometimes better, in their GCSEs and A levels as all other pupils nationally. Excellent technological support ensures pupils have ready access to the specialist equipment that they need to learn. Pupils become highly skilled in using it. Outstanding skills programmes ensure pupils are extremely well prepared for their next steps in education as well as for life in modern Britain. These include courses in personal and social understanding, mobility and independent living. Pupils hugely value the independence they gain from them. Pupils’ behaviour is excellent. They thrive from early years to sixth form in an environment that nurtures their confidence and teaches them to value and respect everyone’s different talents and backgrounds. This means their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. Early years’ children make outstanding progress because the staff work so closely with families even before they arrive in school. Children feel confident and safe to ‘have a go’ and explore their environment because they trust their teachers. All pupils feel extremely safe in the school. Leaders are meticulous in carrying out all the checks they should to ensure this. There are excellent programmes in place that enable pupils themselves to consider risks and keep themselves safe in school and in their communities. Pupils who speak English as an additional language achieve particularly well. The school leaves no stone unturned in helping them to settle in and to acquire English as rapidly as possible. Teaching is outstanding because the leadership and management check on this rigorously and provide staff with excellent opportunities to improve their skills even more. Close partnerships with other schools support staff and the leadership in improving the school further. Governors are extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the school’s work. They constantly challenge the school to achieve even more. The sixth form has developed extremely well since the last inspection and is also outstanding. Courses are individually tailored to allow each student to excel. Students leave confident that they can succeed in whatever they have chosen to do next.