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School for autistic girls in Impington requires improvement, says Ofsted





A new school for autistic girls has been told it needs to improve the quality of its education by Ofsted.

Inspectors said the Hope Tree School in Impington had created a “welcoming and safe school environment” in the short period of time since it opened in June 2022.

The report added that the school leaders were developing the curriculum with “impressive determination”. Picture: iStock
The report added that the school leaders were developing the curriculum with “impressive determination”. Picture: iStock

The specialist school was rated overall as requires improvement following an inspection in November last year. Inspectors rated the school good in three of the four assessment areas, but rated the quality of education as requires improvement.

The school said it was pleased with much of the report, but was disappointed the inspection had taken place 15 weeks after it opened, which meant not all of its plans could be in place before the inspection.

In the report published by Ofsted, inspectors said: “Pupils describe Hope Tree as a ‘place where we can start to learn again’. Many have had negative experiences of education previously.

“Staff are caring and take time to understand pupils’ complex social and emotional needs. This helps pupils to feel safe and settled. Parents agree, one parent commented, ‘Hope Tree is quite simply amazing in every aspect possible’.

“Pupils build trusting relationships with adults. They know leaders have high expectations of what they can achieve.

“The school’s curriculum for developing pupils’ personal skills is effective. However, this is not the same for pupils’ academic learning.

“Leaders are still developing their subject plans. This means that pupils are not achieving consistently well across the curriculum.”

The report added that the school leaders were developing the curriculum with “impressive determination” and have recognised where they need to “refine” their plans.

Inspectors said the teachers “carefully” consider how they deliver the curriculum plans, in light of pupils’ past experiences making them “anxious about learning”.

The report highlighted how teachers adapt their plans to give pupils time to deal with their concerns and anxieties, helping pupils to regulate their emotions and return to their work.

Fiona D’Arcy, head of pastoral care at Hope Tree School, said: “Whilst we are pleased with much of the content of the report we were disappointed to be inspected after only 15 weeks of being operational.

“Having such an early inspection has meant that not all our plans could be in place before the inspection.

“We have purposefully concentrated on relationship building and ensuring that our students feel safe and secure and are settled in their new placements.

“As a result it wasn’t possible to meet as much of the Ofsted framework criteria as we would have liked, or will be able to once we have been operational for longer.

“Although Ofsted commented throughout the report on all the things we have achieved in a short space of time, criteria are criteria.

“We remain very proud of all our students and how they coped through the inspection and being able to demonstrate what is possible in the right environment with the right support.”



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