St Mary’s School


Name St Mary’s School
Website http://www.sabden.org.uk
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 27 January 2015
Address Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex, TN21 0BT
Phone Number 01435812278
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 9-16
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Boys
Number of Pupils 75 (100% boys)
Academy Sponsor The Sabden Multi Academy Trust
Percentage Free School Meals 37.3%
Percentage English is Not First Language 1.3%

Information about this school

St Mary’s was federated with Cuckmere House School at the time of the last inspection. Since September 2012, the federation has expanded and become The SABDEN (Social and Behavioural Difficulties Emotional Nurturing) Federation. In addition to St Mary’s and Cuckmere House, it now includes New Horizons School, Lansdowne Secure Unit and College Central, which is a county-wide pupil referral unit. It is a small special school for boys with severe and complex behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. The number on roll has grown by around a fifth since the last inspection, and this includes a few primary-aged pupils where there were none on roll at that time. The school has a small residential facility for up to 12 pupils. Arrangements for its use are flexible, with different pupils spending varying numbers of nights there. There were seven residential pupils on the days of the inspection. All pupils have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan. All pupils have a White British heritage. About a tenth are children who are looked after by the local authority. The school receives pupil premium funding for almost two thirds of its pupils, which is much higher than the national average. Pupil premium is additional government funding for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and for children who are looked after. The school also receives additional funding for primary school physical education and sport. There has been very significant restructuring of the school’s leadership since the last inspection. The head of school took up post in September 2012, and in the following year two new assistant headteachers were appointed. Most middle managers are also new to their role. Pupils do not attend any other schools or alternative off-site education providers apart from a few who make use of the special activity unit at Cuckmere House. A link with Bishop Bell School is used for assessing pupils’ work in vehicle maintenance, but not for teaching the course.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school. Although relatively new to their posts, senior leaders have made a good start in establishing a clear strategic direction for this expanding school. An effective governing body shares and understands the school’s aims. It works closely with leaders in trying to achieve these goals. School leaders and governors have well-established procedures for maintaining good quality teaching, despite staff changes and the admission of more pupils with complex needs. The majority of middle managers have also held their posts for only a relatively short period, but they are beginning to have an increasing impact on improving provision. The school meets the national minimum standards for residential special schools. The residential provision is outstanding. Teaching is typically good. Therefore, pupils generally learn well in lessons. Pupils’ achievement is good. They make good progress when compared with pupils of the same age and starting points nationally. There are no significant differences in the performance of different groups of pupils. Disadvantaged pupils achieve as well as others. Most pupils’ behaviour is generally good when they are in school. Excellent safeguarding procedures maintain pupils’ safety when they are in school, in the residential provision and off site. Pupils confirm that they feel safe and speak highly of the school. They believe they are very well looked after. The school has strong links with parents and carers and it does much to involve them in their children’s education. An overwhelming number of parents and carers value this and are very appreciative of the school and the work that it does. Pupils are prepared well for leaving school. All school leavers in 2014 went into continuing education, employment or training. Despite the school’s rural location, pupils are prepared well for living in modern Britain. The school works hard and generally successfully to develop in pupils respect for differences and tolerance of others. The staff are very complimentary about the school and highly supportive of what it is trying to achieve. The school has established very good links with partner agencies, such as social services. It is not yet an outstanding school because : There is insufficient outstanding teaching for pupils to make excellent progress. Attendance is too low and at times a few pupils’ behaviour disrupts their own and others’ learning. Pupils’ progress data are not analysed and interpreted most effectively in ways that show pupils’ progress and achievement in relation to the national picture for similar pupils.