Ofsted Outstanding

Ofsted Report 2020

30 March 2020


Ofsted undertook a Social Care Inspection of the William Henry Smith School on the 2nd and 3rd March this year and the school was judged ‘Outstanding’. This is the 15th consecutive outstanding judgement.

The school is a residential special school, providing care, education, health and therapy for children and young people who face social, emotional and mental health challenges between the ages of 5-19. Students may also have additional needs that relate to specific learning difficulties, including Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism.

Ofsted inspected the school under the three focus areas and recorded their judgements:

Overall experiences and progress of children and young people-Outstanding

How well children and young people are helped and protected-Outstanding

The effectiveness of leaders and managers-Outstanding

The school stands out and practices are ground breaking.

‘’At its heart, the school celebrates the importance of increasingly safe, happy and healthy children. The residential special school provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the school contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people. The school stands out in its provision of flexible weekend support and outreach work to pupils and their families during the holiday periods. This is ground breaking.’’

Parents are fulsome of their praise of how much progress their children have made.  

’The extra support families receive with regards to the outreach work offered and the regular contact with the school supports them and this enables their child to have positive relationships with the school and has made a significant difference to their whole family life’’. One carer said ‘I feel extremely lucky that my child can come here. I feel sorry for all the children who cannot come. Every town should have such a school’’. The school works in partnership with families, providing opportunities to share updates and strategies and learn alongside and from each other’s experiences. In the last 6 months, there have been topics relating to improving sleep, positive behaviour support, keeping safe on line and quality of life.     

Children continuously improve from their starting points.

‘’Staff expertly lay the foundations that help children to make progress. Staff identify children’s unique, complex and challenging needs. A highly motivated, experienced and coordinated multi-disciplinary team is on site. It offers children a wealth of resources to help them to negotiate any barrier to success and the on-site therapy team trains and supports staff, and work directly with children and with their families’’.

Staff promote an innovative programme of care.

‘’The school centres its work on creating a good quality of life and staff capture and describe children’s challenges and triumphs with affection and skill. They are supporting children to learn from positive regard and natural consequences. This drives positive change as children learn to be responsible for their choices. Staff share their experiences with the children, this helps them to make exceptional progress as staff often say, ‘We can do this together’ this gives the students the confidence to learn about their past. The approach is an electric mix of research-based theories and the school’s own ideology’’.

A real difference to the children’s long-term outcomes is how the school offers a unique framework for children’s safety, and their mental and emotional health.

‘’Children continually learn the skills to recognise when they need help and how to ask for it. Staff respond to meet their needs. This creates a positive cycle of learning and change. One child told the inspectors, ‘I have come out from behind the curtain. I can do things I never dared before. I can take on challenge. This is going to help me have a better job.’ Another young person studying at College told the inspectors, ‘Staff stuck with me through the early days. It is because of them I can go to college, and they got me a job I love. They listen to me. They help me to work out what I want for my future.’’

‘’Leaders encourage staff to be brave’’.

A well-crafted induction programme develops into specialist training opportunities according to Ofsted’s 2-day inspection. ‘’The school equips staff to provide effective care for children and leaders encourage staff to be brave and try new or experimental ways of working with the boys. They provide regular updates on children’s progress through extraordinarily detailed reports’’.

’Leaders share their expertise within the national residential special school arena’’.

The work does not stop at the school gates. Last year the school worked with over 146 schools regionally and nationally, delivering training, and supporting new Heads, sharing good practice with visits to the school and conferences, and providing school improvement consultations to organisations requiring a specialist eye. The school are actively involved in two national organisations, NASS and Engage, and senior leaders hold pivotal roles, helping to ensure that schools like William Henry Smith provide exceptional care, education, health and therapy for all young people. Locally, the school chairs the Specialist Provision Cluster, which consists of five special schools including Wood Bank, Ravenscliffe, Whitley AP Academy, Highbury and William Henry Smith, providing support, training and specialist help to all schools across Calderdale, reaching out to over 70% this last 12 months.  

Sue Ackroyd, Principal, said, ‘’we are naturally over the moon with Ofsted’s judgement. Our whole community work tirelessly to help improve the quality of life of our children and their families. We make a commitment to them and our staff team. Our belief is that everything is possible. We have a wealth and depth of creative and inventive resources and that includes our highly skilled residential, education, health and therapy, and support teams. Children start to believe that they can succeed and their health, happiness and safety improves, families begin to get their lives back. Thanks must go to our strong school community, our resourceful and courageous staff team, our children, and our determined and supportive families’’.