Feedback from Ofsted

Visit from 15-17 March 2022

The school was pleased to receive a visit from the Ofsted team in March of 2022. They were able to give the school a few days of discussion and feedback and this has provided a wealth of ideas for the school in continuing on its journey. The school is really grateful to have additional ideas and input from other education professionals.

The school was disappointed to have not been able to fully communicate and to help others understand the amazing journey of many of our pupils, but we are grateful for the opportunity to reflect on how to do this in order to better share our student's journeys as we grow.

Without doubt the most useful aspect of the feedback was concerning the school's paperwork and systems for logging and communicating future safeguarding concerns with external partners. With all of the detailed ideas and suggestions the school made a number of systemic changes. They did note some historic issues that had been rectified by the school already and also discussed the positive changes the school was working towards at the time of the visit.

 

In order to check this change had been as accurate and effective as possible the school invited a member of staff in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council Safeguarding team to come and do a Safeguarding Audit in the Summer term. School leaders were pleased to receive the feedback that the systems and processes were 'good' following the ideas for changes provided by the Ofsted visitors.

Further areas that the school is actively evaluating following really helpful constructive feedback is around the curriculum and personal development. Although our Ofsted visitors acknowledged that the students personal development was "good'"  for those in school, they asked the school to consider whether they should meet a wider set of needs and therefore give increased "equality of opportunity". This is a really interesting point to consider and although the school is mindful that as a small independent school it has very limited resources, this is definitely an area the school continues to evaluate and reflect on. They also challenged the school to consider whether not having staffed trained in physical intervention was a positive choice in terms of giving "equality of opportunity" to students who have additional needs. One of the visitors took the view that she felt "autistic children can be unpredictable" and therefore staff should be ready to physically intervene. This isn't a view the school shares but is grateful for the feedback. The school is excited about this challenge and is determined to better communicate its positive, inclusive, de-escalatory environment that allows our students to thrive and the school's sector leading approach to non-restrictive, pro-active and de-escalatory approaches to emotional regulation.

The Ofsted visitors encouraged school leaders to reflect on the ambition and rigour within the curriculum. One of the visitors was of the opinion that not all student's sitting GCSE exams at the end of their studies could mean a lack of ambition. This a really interesting question for school leaders to continue to evaluate and consider. Although GCSE exams are considered a national benchmark qualification, the school does feel their is just as much value in vocational outcomes and ambition is a relative term. The school is really excited about how best to demonstrate and communicate value of vocational qualifications and to help evidence and show the progress and journeys of its learners. Our Key Stage 4 options are a great opportunity for parents and students to choose what ambition means for their child and its the schools job to communicate this and evidence the value. This is a really engaging and interesting challenge that the school is tackling moving forward.

The school was delighted to have feedback that "there is a calm, industrious atmosphere around the school. Most pupils understand the routines and participate willingly. They are community minded. For example, pupils take responsibility for the lunch service, providing hot meals for the rest of the school. Pupils' interactions are respectful. Bullying is rare. Pupils are sensitive to each other's difference". They felt that "pupils have a positive experience" and they benefit from "opportunities for pupils to contribute to the running of the school" and that "pupils develop resilience".

Many other positive snippets were shared with school leaders, not least that the work experience programme provided a rich and varied approach that allowed students to have lots of positive experiences. They recognised the positive importance of community within the students experiences of school and helped leaders to reflect on how to further develop this.

School leaders have taken this really helpful feedback and channelled lots of ideas into the school's ongoing evaluation and development planning. We look forward to welcoming our Ofsted colleagues back in due course to share more ideas and feedback and to challenge school leaders to reflect and develop further.

The Head says...

The school was visited in March by colleagues from Ofsted. This occurred during a period of flux and at a time when the school was seeking an appointment of a new Headteacher in order to clearly separate roles and ease the proprietal demands. This was following the sudden unanticipated departure of the school's Designated Safeguarding Lead.

The school has challenged some aspects of the report but has concurrently responded to the feedback through a whole school review and systemic upgrades and enhancements.

The school has appointed a highly experience SLT and DSL team, documented and implemented clear distinction of staff roles and responsibilities. It has also introduced a management information system which supports Safeguarding, behaviour and attendance tracking and monitoring.

In May, we welcomed an external QA safeguarding Audit from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council who found our processes and practises to be "good". This is testimony to the rapid period of transformational and sustained change relating to safeguarding processes and practises. This can only be achieved through working in partnership with parents and external agencies along with the relentless pursuit of excellence and commitment to of the whole team at The Lion Works School.

We continue to promote an open and positive culture of safeguarding within our school and we continue to work towards achieving all outcomes on our Post-Inspection Action plan linked to our School Development Plan 2022-23.

As ever, when it comes to evaluating the school we will leave the final words to parents and carers of our students. We value and welcome the termly feedback we receive and endeavour to develop the school in line with the shared understanding between the school and parents of their wonderful, unique and talented children.

When my eleven year old son and I arrived at The Lion Works School a year ago, both his self confidence and attitude towards education had hit rock bottom due to previous negative experiences over the years.

However during this past year he has absolutely thrived, both in his confidence and academically. He has found a school where he feels he truly belongs. 

The wonderful staffing team go above and beyond to make sure their lessons are inspiring and motivating and my son knows he is valued and respected as a student. 

In addition to this, the nurturing ethos that the school encapsulates enables him to feel calm, engaged and receptive to new challenges. 

I believe The Lion Works holds a metaphorical key and every day they are unlocking a little bit more of my son's full potential. I am excited to be alongside him as he continues to flourish and am thankful every day that he is a part of this truly incredible school. It has been life changing for our family! 

When my child joined The Lionworks School in Jan 2021 he was highly anxious, demand avoidant, deeply unhappy and lonely. He had had such difficult experiences at school and as a result of this (and the pandemic) he had shut down to learning/school/the outside world. You took him in and from the moment he joined he was welcomed with kindness and patience. You supported us as a family through a very difficult time and it literally saved my child. When he refused to come to school you helped us, you visited our home and offered support. You even sent a mentor for 2 weeks to help to get him into school, starting his day with outdoor breakfast and laughs. Little by little he was able to access education again, actually access life again. He has always felt listened to and understood, and you helped him to be the best he could be. His decision to leave and go back to mainstream is primarily down to the Lionworks School giving him wings to fly.

Group Discussion