PUPILS and staff at a York school are celebrating getting an Ofsted report that has ranked the school as good.

Applefields School the city’s special secondary school in Bad Bargain Lane, Burnholme, has been judged as good at their first inspection since they were last graded in March 2015 when they also got a ‘good’ rating.

The school is a special school with 151 pupils aged 11-19 and has a satellite at Manor CE Academy as well as a college facitlity at Askham Bryan.

In a letter to head teacher, Adam Booker, inspector, Tricia Stevens, said: “At the time of the last inspection, opportunities were being missed to develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding, particularly within the teaching and curriculum for maths. You have ensured that the curriculum, not only in maths but as a whole, has been reviewed and developed. The newly introduced curriculum is more pupil-centred and supports individual planning and assessment effectively. As a result, most pupils are making strong progress against their individual targets in all subjects.”

She outlined several key areas where the school is good:

◼ Teachers and leaders know individual pupils extremely well. They can clearly articulate each pupil’s needs, the progress they are making over time and any barriers to learning they have. The targets set for what pupils should achieve are linked to both their individual education, health and care (EHC) plans and teachers’ assessment of their academic and social needs.

◼ Pupils who attend the Applefields School satellite site at Manor CE Academy value the provision and education that they receive. Pupils a have a strong sense of belonging to both schools. One pupil said, ‘The balance is just right.’ Strong teaching focuses on what each pupil can do and needs to know next to continue to successfully access the mainstream curriculum.

◼ The Pip Stop Cafe excellently showcases the school’s real-life approach towards learning. Pupils take part in activities such as baking and serving and handling money, practising their skills on one another. Pupils, staff and parents are all, rightly, proud of this provision. Parents who visit the cafe say it is a ‘great opportunity for parents to support each other’.

Mr Booker, who has been head since September 2015, said: "We're absolutely over the moon. What we have done is move the place forward again. It's been down to the team work between staff, pupils, parents and governors working together to do new things."

◼ Leaders ensure that, when pupils join the school, their skills, knowledge and understanding are accurately assessed. From this, learning is planned so that it builds effectively from this starting point. Each individual pupil’s progress is measured effectively through the school’s assessment systems and targets within their EHC plan. Although leaders make accurate judgements regarding the progress of individual pupils, this system does not provide leaders with an overarching, whole-school picture of pupils’ progress. Doing so is now an important next step.

◼ Inspectors also looked at pupils’ behaviour and attendance. Across the school, in the main, pupils behave well. Classrooms are calm learning environments. Pupils are encouraged and supported to engage with their learning. Parents and staff report that behaviour is managed well and pupils also say that behaviour is good. While leaders ensure that any incidents of poor behaviour are appropriately recorded, these are not yet effectively reviewed to establish a clear and accurate whole-school picture.

◼ Most pupils attend school regularly. Leaders have developed effective systems to encourage good attendance. In this school, persistent absence is often due to the complex medical needs of pupils. Sometimes, this involves long-term hospital

stays. Leaders have taken effective steps to reduce the number of absences due to illness, such as providing visual reminders to parents and flu vaccinations for staff. When pupils are absent for long periods, staff continue to provide effective support for pupils, and their families, up until they are well enough to return to school.

◼ Improvements in senior and middle leadership have been a focus for you since coming into post. You have brought together committed and passionate individuals who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience into the leadership team. You continue to work on developing a team approach and a shared vision

The report also found that the school needs to keep working on:

◼ senior and middle leadership is further developed into a cohesive team with a shared vision

◼ arrangements to check pupil progress and behaviour are further developed to provide a more accurate picture across the school.