Watermill School


Name Watermill School
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 08 May 2013
Address Turnhurst Road, Chell, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST6 6JZ
Phone Number 01782883737
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 2-16
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Academy Sponsor Orchard Community Trust
Percentage Free School Meals 46.7%
Percentage English is Not First Language 21.5%

Information about this school

Since its last inspection, Middlehurst has merged with another all-age special school and currently operates across two sites or centres as an interim measure until its new single site opens in January 2014. The vast majority of pupils attending the two sites have a statement of special educational needs. In addition, a small number of pupils attend ‘Inspire’ on the Middlehurst site, which caters for permanently excluded primary age pupils from Stoke, for assessment of their needs. The school provides for pupils with complex and profound learning difficulties, severe and moderate learning difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions and behavioural difficulties. The school covers six key stages and caters for pupils between the ages of 3 and 19. Pupils are able to join the school at any age but the majority of those not attending Inspire, start at usual school entry times. There were no pupils in the very small post-16 group or the small group for those with more complex profound and multiple difficulties in school at the time of the inspection as they were away on a residential visit to the Lake District. Half of the school’s pupils are eligible for the pupil premium, which is above the national average. (The pupil premium is additional funding provided to support pupils known to be eligible for free school meals, children looked after by the local authority and the children of armed service families.) There are twice as many boys as girls in the school and the majority of pupils are of White British heritage. The school provides an outreach service for mainstream schools in the Stoke area and it enables a small number of links with mainstream education for its own pupils. Link courses are in place for older pupils at Reaseheath College, Stoke College, Newcastle College and occasionally with an external training provider. The school has achieved Artsmark, Sportsmark and Healthy Schools status.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school. Friendly and harmonious communities provide a warm welcome to both centres of Middlehurst School. Achievement is good. Pupils mostly make good progress as a result of the generally good, sometimes outstanding teaching they receive. Reading, writing and mathematics are well taught and the focus on English last year has improved results. Communication skills develop well. Pupils gain confidence to try, which leads to greater independence. Literacy and numeracy skills are reinforced well in each lesson. Pupils with the most complex needs have sensitive support and learn to make their thoughts and wishes known with increasing confidence. Behaviour around the school and in most lessons is good. Pupils are well mannered, polite and respectful to each other and to staff. Pupils clearly enjoy lessons and say they feel happy and safe in school. The curriculum is outstanding. An exceptional range of activities underpin pupils’ strong social and personal skills development. The school is well led and managed. From a difficult three-year period of substantial change it stands in a much stronger position to look more clearly to the future. It is an improving school. Senior leaders are committed to raising pupils’ achievement and embrace innovative practice. Teaching and learning are managed robustly. The small post-16 provision is good and improving. It effectively provides new choice for those with more complex needs. Work to support other schools is good and the ‘Inspire’ unit successfully re-engages excluded pupils in learning. Governors challenge effectively and have good knowledge of pupils’ needs and their progress. It is not yet an outstanding school because : Not all lessons focus sharply enough on learning, match individual abilities to lesson goals or stretch all pupils sufficiently. Some of the targets to develop the school lack sufficient precision. The school’s planning for its extended future is too limited.