Stoke-on-Trent school takes swift action as Ofsted demands changes

Phoenix U16 Independent School -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel
Phoenix U16 Independent School -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel

An independent Stoke-on-Trent school has 'acted quickly' to raise its standards after being told to improve following an inspection last summer. Phoenix U16 Independent School, near Hanley, was rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted after inspectors visited in June 2023.

The full inspection found that the Metro Business Park-based school - catering for a small number of pupils aged 14 to 16 who typically have a range of social, emotional and mental health difficulties - needed to make improvements to the areas of 'quality of education' and 'leadership and management'. Two other areas - 'behaviour and attitudes' and 'personal development' - were deemed to be 'good'.

Prior to last summer's inspection, the school had been rated 'inadequate' following a visit in November 2021. As a result of the 2023 inspection, a progress monitoring inspection was carried out by the education watchdog on February 21 this year.

Although a number of improvements were found to have been made, not all of the standards and associated requirements were checked during the inspection. However, of those standards that were assessed during this visit the school is now meeting them all.

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Eve Morris, lead inspector, states in her recently-published report: "At the time of the inspection in June 2023, the school’s processes for carrying out risk assessments were not detailed enough. For example, off-site risk assessments were not taking account of all the actual risks associated with the pupils or the activity. As a result, the school was not taking the appropriate action to manage and reduce levels o frisk for pupils.

"Since the previous inspection, leaders have worked with a range of professionals to ensure that systems for assessing risks are robust. Leaders have a detailed risk assessment policy in place. The school’s risk assessments are appropriate and identify the risk associated with individual activities and visits.

"Leaders have ensured that all staff are well trained in identifying risks. These standards are now met.

"At the time of the inspection, the proprietor had not ensured that all the standards were being met consistently and continually. There were weaknesses in the risk assessment processes and the school was not taking appropriate action to manage and reduce levels of risk for pupils.

"It is clear that since the previous inspection, leaders acted quickly to rectify the issues raised. The proprietor has maintained oversight of the improvements and has brought in additional expertise to ensure that the improvements are being sustained. These standards are now met."

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