Special school celebrates rise in Ofsted grade as inspectors award 'Good' for Daventry Hill

Children ‘flourish’ at school
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Staff and children at a special school in Daventry are celebrating their recent Ofsted visit where inspectors graded their overall effectiveness as ‘Good’.

Daventry Hill School was opened in 2016 by EE4A trust and experienced significant difficulties during its first few years.

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In late 2018 Creating Tomorrow Academies Trust, based in Kettering, were asked to take over the school which was due its first Ofsted inspection.

Daventry Hill School students. Picture: George CoombesDaventry Hill School students. Picture: George Coombes
Daventry Hill School students. Picture: George Coombes

A new leadership team was recruited, led by headteacher Gareth Ivett, who vowed to turn the school around to ensure the students get what they deserve.

Shortly after the takeover, Ofsted arrived and graded the school inadequate, however recognised the impact of the work the new leadership team had undertaken and their capacity to make the necessary change.

Several years later the hard work of the staff team has been recognised in the report published by the education watchdog which states that ‘pupils enjoy attending this much improved school’.

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The report also states that ‘relationships between staff and pupils are very positive. Pupils know that staff will look after them and help them learn. Staff are skilled at meeting the pupil’s needs.’

Mr Ivett told this paper: “It has been a long, hard journey over the last few years, ensuring that we develop an offer for our students. I am really proud of our staff team who have been so open to professional development which has enabled them to understand our student needs and support them appropriately.”

Inspectors noted that pupils have a positive attitude towards their education and engage with their learning. Pupils follow one of three curriculum pathways which is appropriate to their needs and benefit from a well-structured mathematics curriculum and an excellent employability curriculum.

Leaders have been found to promote a love of reading through a range of strategies and are supported by a phonics programme as they move through the school.

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Mr Ivett highlighted the success of the Early Years provision at the school.

He said: “We are really pleased that inspectors were ‘wowed’ by our provision for early years students which is testament to the dedication of the team in our Foundations for Learning phase”.

Inspectors wrote that ‘children in the Foundations for Learning’ stage experience an exceptional curriculum. Children thrive and develop well from their starting points’, which led to a grading of outstanding.

The report recognises that there is still further development necessary in some subjects to identify precisely the key knowledge that pupils need to learn, however also states that ‘it is clear from leader’s actions that they are in the process of bringing this about’.

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During the inspection staff were surveyed and indicated that they are proud to work at the school. They are clear that they feel appreciated by leaders and value the support that leaders give them especially in the areas of wellbeing and workload.

“The hard work doesn’t stop here” Mr Ivett added.

“We will continue to develop our curriculum but also ensure that staff and students make a positive contribution to society. Our work with local employers, supporting disability confidence, will continue to ensure that when we have enabled our students to be ready for the real world; the real world is ready for our students.”