Special school in Haywards Heath improves Ofsted rating but still requires improvement

Teaching at an independent school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs is still not good enough, according to an Ofsted report.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 1:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 1:28 pm
The Education Centre. 1-3 Marketplace Haywards Heath. Pic Steve Robards SR1722356 SUS-171209-151124001

The Education Centre, in Haywards Heath, was rated ‘inadequate’ in 2017, prompting West Sussex County Council to declare that it would not send any more children to the school until concerns about safety and education had been addressed.

Now, following a three-day inspection, it has been stepped up to ‘requires improvement’ – with Ofsted providing a list of work still to do.

In her report, inspector Sue Child recognised the improvements already made but said attention had been ‘too focussed on securing the future of the school rather than on making the rapid improvement necessary in the quality of teaching and learning’.

She added that teachers still did not know pupils’ learning needs precisely enough, meaning the children did not get exactly the help they needed.

Expectations of pupils’ academic progress was described as ‘not high enough’, with children not making enough progress in reading and writing.

The teaching of maths, though, was better than before.

In 2017, Ofsted said there were ‘actual and potential risks to pupils’ safety and well-being’ due to a failure to meet the required health and safety standards.

Ms Child has now reported that all safeguarding requirements are in place.

She added: “Staff ensure that there is a welcoming and supportive atmosphere in the school. Pupils are cared for well and they feel safe.”

A council spokesman said the county was funding placements for ten children at the centre, which charges annual fees of £36,000 for day pupils.

Four of those children were placed at the school after the 2017 inspection ‘in full cooperation with families and young people’.

He added: “Since the inadequate Ofsted report in 2017, the council has been proactively monitoring the school’s work through its Ofsted Action Plan to address the recommendations, and during regular visits officers have reviewed and discussed necessary progress.

“We suspended new placements until our concerns were resolved.

“Our Special Educational Needs assessment team engaged with parents following the inadequate rating to agree the best approach to ensure their child’s needs are appropriately met.

“Since then each pupil at the school has had an annual review of their Education, Health and Care Plan and the council continues to work with individual pupils and families as needed.”

The Education Centre was approached for comment.