18 May 2011

A school where new students are supplied with alarm clocks in a welcome pack and the curriculum ranges from basic literacy to boat building has been judged outstanding by education watchdog Ofsted.

Northamptonshire County Council’s pupil referral unit, which is based in several centres across the county, has received a glowing report from Ofsted inspectors who found that it provides pupils with an outstanding education and has an outstanding capacity for sustained improvement.

The school provides education for students who have been permanently excluded from mainstream school as well dedicated services for school-aged mothers.

The Ofsted report mentions many areas of excellence, including:

  • Outstanding teaching and a rich and varied curriculum that helps students to make exceptional progress
  • Excellent and inspirational leadership from the headteacher, whose drive and dedication is highlighted
  • Committed staff who are excellent at responding promptly and skilfully to any change in a student’s mood or behaviour or signs of anxiety.

The report paints a picture of a school where students are motivated and challenged to achieve their best in their learning and who respond to the excellent teaching and leadership by improving their behaviour and attendance. The report cites as examples the students’ fundraising work for the provision of toilets for families in Burundi and the cleaning up of a nearby street that had been subject to vandalism.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is a fantastic endorsement of the pupil referral unit. It’s a great example of how the principle that every child matters can be successfully applied, with each student attending the school having an individual plan that matches their learning needs and skills to their coursework. The result is that they’re very well prepared to return to mainstream education or to enter the workplace.”

The report makes two recommendations for further improvement:

  • Ensure that all students are more involved in the self-assessment of their progress and in identifying what they need to do to improve their work further
  • Sustain the concerted effort to improve the attendance of the small minority of students with low attendance rates

The school incorporates seven different venues across the county:

  • Poole Street and the school-aged mothers service in Northampton
  • Fairlawn in Wellingborough
  • Forest Gate and Oaklands in Corby
  • William Knibb Centre and London Road in Kettering

The report can be viewed on Ofsted's website.