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Ofsted 2023

28 and 29 November 2023

Direct link to Ofsted Report


There has been no change to this school’s overall judgement of good as a result of this ungraded (section 8) inspection. However, the evidence gathered suggests that the inspection grade might be outstanding if a graded (section 5) inspection were carried out now. The school’s next inspection will be a graded inspection.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils are happy to attend this welcoming and friendly school. They feel safe and they like their lessons. The school expects all pupils to do their best and to work hard. At times, pupils need extra help and support to stay focused and achieve their best. Adults provide this support in a calm and nurturing way, allowing pupils time and space to be as independent as possible, and to concentrate on their work. The school’s top priority is developing pupils’ communication. This is threaded through the curriculum at every stage. Leaders and staff have put in place a curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils. It is highly personalised because every pupil has unique learning needs.

Parents and carers have a say in what their child will focus on in school, and they appreciate this. As well as academic learning, pupils learn how to develop their social and emotional skills and to do things for themselves. The curriculum teaches pupils how to communicate their feelings, including if they are unhappy or worried about anything. Pupils said that the school creates a culture where kindness is the norm, and bullying is not tolerated. School staff are expert in noticing if a pupil needs extra help, and leaders follow any concerns up quickly.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

The school has put in place a carefully thought out and ambitious curriculum, from Year 7 all the way through to the sixth form. It lays out, in detail, the specific knowledge and skills that pupils should learn and remember in a broad range of subjects. All pupils at the school have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), and the curriculum pays particular attention to the vital communication skills that pupils will need throughout their life.

The curriculum is highly specialised, and the school makes sure that staff have comprehensive training and support to understand and deliver the curriculum well. The Inspection report: Mapledown School 28 and 29 November 2023 2 work of the school is strengthened by specialist input from therapists and nurses. Staff and specialists work in a planned and joined-up way to ensure that all aspects of pupils’ learning are supported very well. Most of the time, lessons take place without interruption. Some pupils need extra help to access learning and to stay calm and behave well. This additional support is provided expertly, both through the curriculum and through a skilled staff team. The curriculum develops pupils’ social and emotional skills. This includes teaching pupils how to manage their behaviour and to find positive ways to communicate what they want and need. Staff know pupils’ needs very well, and they quickly spot any signs that a pupil might need extra help. Relationships between pupils and adults are warm and positive. Pupils enjoy their lessons, and they attend school regularly. Pupils learn to read in a planned way, which is tailored to the specific stage at which pupils are working. Some pupils are at the very early stages of literacy development, and the school adapts work for these pupils using an appropriate and well-thought-out approach.

Pupils are taught important knowledge and skills, such as the physical and emotional changes that occur as pupils develop into adults, through the school’s personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum. The curriculum also covers other topics, such as how to behave in public places, going shopping and cooking meals. Pupils learn about the world of work and how to keep safe in the community. These topics help pupils to be ready for the next stage of their lives and to be as independent as possible. Through the PSHE curriculum, pupils are also taught about the importance of tolerance and respect and about the different ways that people live their lives. Pupils learn about safe and healthy relationships.

The school has established a rich programme of activities to support pupils’ social and cultural development, including in the sixth form. This includes trips to museums and country parks and visits to the local community, such as to sports events with other schools. Various groups and individuals visit the school to enrich pupils’ school experience, including a Paralympian, ballet companies and regular visits from dance and drama companies. Staff enjoy working at the school. They feel that leaders consider their well-being and that they have the training and support they need to do their job well.

For the full report please download it below or go straight to the Ofsted website