Heart of the Forest Community Special School
Catchment Area, Reviews and Key Information

Primary & Secondary
Post 16
Special school
3 - 19
Community special school

How Does The School Perform?

4 1 1 2 3 4
Ofsted Inspection
Full Report - All Reports

Special schools provide a unique and distinctive educational environment to meet the needs of the pupils in their community. Undertaking standard tests may not be appropriate and we do not show performance data for special schools.

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A Parent's Guide to Choosing a Special School


Happiness Rating

Ofsted Parent View

Pupil/Teacher ratio
Persistent Absence
Pupils first language
not English
Free school meals
Speech House
GL16 7EJ

School Description

The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection. Pupils are making at least good progress, from the youngest children to the oldest student. They enjoy coming to school, learning and developing their understanding of the world throughout the school day. Pupils and their families are proud to be part of the Heart of the Forest learning community. Developing pupils’ independence and life-preparing learning skills are at the core of what this school does. All pupils have access to the full national curriculum as well as other exciting life-enhancing activities. They learn about the world of work, how to shop for themselves and to make choices. Pupils learn how to say no! The school buildings and outside areas provide stimulating and attractive learning opportunities. Great care and thought is taken to provide pupils with a wide range of equipment and good-quality resources with which to learn and play. Pupils have access to independent careers advice and there are strong relationships between the school and local college that enable older pupils to transfer their education to the college if they are able. The points for improvement raised from the previous inspection have been met effectively. The curriculum fully covers the range of different cultures and lifestyles in the United Kingdom and further afield. In addition, provision for sex and relationships education is carefully planned for each pupil. Parents and carers also appreciate the adolescent sex and relationship support provided for them to help their children. Safeguarding is effective. All staff, and those responsible for governance, ensure that all safeguarding arrangements are fit for purpose. Strong relationships with other agencies and organisations ensure that pupils are kept safe at home and in school. Saferrecruitment procedures are carefully followed. All staff have regular, high-quality training that keeps them up to date. Staff know what to do and where to go if they have any concerns. Pupils are taught how to keep themselves safe. Parents are also supported well by the school to help protect their children. Leaders and the governing body keep a coordinated eye to ensure that pupils are kept safe and secure, for example by adapting the school buildings and external site to keep out the local wild boars. The appointment of the school nurse is having a positive impact. Pupils can now attend medical clinic appointments on site with the school nurse attending alongside. She provides good support for families and enhances the communication between the medical professionals and families. This has reduced anxiety and increased attendance in school and at medical clinics. Inspection findings First, we evaluated how well pupils’ communication skills are being developed. We found that staff use a wide variety of different ways to help pupils share their views and opinions and make choices. As you note, ‘communication sits with the child and not the classroom’. You ensure that pupils, including those with the most complex needs, are ‘listened’ to. For example, staff pay very close attention to pupils’ expressions and breathing to help identify what they need or desire. Parents were effusive in their praise for the way that staff understand their children and the excellent ways in which they care for and support them. We agreed that some pupils, notably the most able in the school, need to have better letter formation to make their written work more legible. We noted that the handwriting of some staff needs to be clearer to enable pupils to have good models from which to copy and learn. Good progress is being made to raise staff confidence in signing. You have provided training and support for staff to physically sign with their hands during the school day. You have been monitoring the impact of this work and have included a signing club to encourage pupils to sign and have staff signing champions to lead and support other staff. You are aware that staff are signing more often but know that the clarity and amount of signing could be further enhanced. You have identified this in the school’s action plan. Next, we looked at how well the middle leaders in school were measuring pupils’ achievements through the school’s assessment systems. The school uses a wide range of systems to cover the different aspects of the curriculum. For example, switch use, movement and music, and outdoor adventure activities, as well as the subjects of the national curriculum. Staff, including middle leaders, understand the different systems and apply them well. Middle leaders have identified pupils who have not made the progress expected of them. Middle leaders have not yet fully understood why or observed these pupils in lessons. This is part of your action plan to develop the expertise and knowledge of the middle leaders as well as improving pupils’ outcomes. The inspection’s third line of enquiry was to check that the courses and learning experiences that pupils have are age-appropriate, meeting their needs and desires. The curriculum throughout the school builds on pupils’ previous knowledge and understanding. It is rich and varied. It is highly tailored to meet individual pupils’ needs. It prepares pupils well for the next steps in their education and for life after school by applying what they have learned in lessons in the community. For example, understanding they cannot buy chocolate biscuits with the money they have because they need to buy apples for their food technology lesson. All pupils, no matter how complex their needs, have work-based opportunities. Pupils who need to use an eye tracker can use it to record the orders that customers make in the café. On occasions, you have found it hard to find work experience locally that fully meets pupils’ desires. This is an area that you are continuing to improve. Finally, we examined how well the governing body holds leaders and managers to account. They are a strong group. They are highly involved in all aspects of the work of the school, leading strategically with you. They work closely with you to ensure that aspirations for pupils remain high. With you, they enable staff to learn from best practice, follow recommendations such as from the Rochford Review and lead new initiatives. For example, staff conduct action research in the school to measure and develop the multi-disciplinary work carried out by specialists and school staff. They have ensured that the extra sports funding is used highly effectively. Next steps for the school Leaders and those responsible for governance should ensure that: pupils who can write improve their letter formation the quality of middle leadership is further developed as designed in the school’s action plan communication is further improved by staff signing with their hands more frequently and clearly throughout the school day.

Heart of the Forest Community Special School Reviews

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Heart of the Forest Community Special School Catchment Area Map

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