School told to improve as Ofsted says 'too many pupils persistently absent'

Peak Education Audley -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel
Peak Education Audley -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel

An independent school has been told it needs to improve after inspectors found that "too many pupils continue to be persistently absent". Peak Education Audley, which caters for a small number of children aged seven to 14 who have social, emotional and mental health, has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted.

An inspection was held at the Nantwich Road school over three days in March. It was previously judged to be 'good' back in 2021.

The recently-published report states: "This is a small, nurturing school for pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. The staff care deeply about the pupils they teach. Relationships between staff and pupils are positive. Pupils know that staff care for them and this helps pupils feel safe in school.

"The school is determined to provide pupils with an ambitious curriculum that prepares them well for key stage 4. However, pupils do not receive or do not consistently receive an education that consistently meets the ambitious intentions of leaders. This is because the school is changing the curriculum and assessment procedures to achieve this ambition and these changes are at an early stage of development.

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"Often, pupils have not had positive experiences in previous schools. They have developed patterns of inappropriate behaviour and poor attendance. The school knows this so has created a motivating outdoor education curriculum that builds pupils’ self-confidence and resilience.

"As a result, pupils try hard to behave in class and they are developing more positive attitudes towards learning. However, too many pupils still do not come to school regularly enough. The school wants pupils to have positive experiences and a role in their community. Staff plan regular trips and activities to help pupils achieve this goal."

Peak Education Audley -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel
Peak Education Audley -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel

The report adds: "The school regularly listens to the views of pupils, families, staff and other stakeholders. It considers how to adapt its practice in response to views gathered. However, there is some variation in how well staff feel supported and valued. Some say the school helps them to manage their workload. Others say more could be done to support them.

"The school often checks what is working well and where further improvement is needed. This is achieved through internal and external monitoring processes. However, the school does not accurately identify the most important areas for improvement. As a result, plans to improve the school are not always focused on the right things.

"The school understands pupils’ special educational needs well. At the initial assessment, the school identifies what support pupils need. This information informs the plans provided for staff. Staff review these plans at least once a term.

"Pupils learn about bullying and are confident to report any concerns. The school takes all reports of bullying seriously. Effective action is taken to prevent it continuing .The school monitors attendance well. It uses a range of interventions, support, rewards and consequences to improve attendance. For example, staff transport pupils to and from school. While many pupils do improve their attendance from their starting points, these improvements are too slow. As a result, too many pupils miss important schooling."

A spokesperson for the school said: "Our priority always is to provide the very best education for our pupils. While this report highlights many positives, and grades us ‘good’ in two areas, it also highlights areas for improvement. As it notes, early work is already underway to make improvements where they are needed.

"Among the positives we were pleased that inspectors particularly noted the good behaviour and attitudes of our pupils and our positive and successful work to support their personal development. They also rightly noted that our ‘committed and compassionate’ team ‘care deeply’ about the children we teach and that our motivating outdoor education programme helps build pupils’ self-confidence and resilience - both are very important areas of development for our children.

"We look forward to welcoming the inspectors back to the school soon to see our continued improvement."

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