School etc

Highcroft School

Highcroft School
The Green
Bishop Auckland
County Durham

phone: 077 02916189

headed by: Mr David Laheney

school holidays: via Durham council

9 pupils aged 13—15y mixed gender
16 pupils capacity: 56% full

10 girls 111%


Last updated: June 24, 2014

— Other Independent Special School

Establishment type
Other Independent Special School
Establishment #
Open date
May 24, 2011
Reason open
New Provision
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 412590, Northing: 524180
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 54.613, Longitude: -1.8066
Accepting pupils
11—16 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Region › Const. › Ward
North East › Bishop Auckland › Evenwood
Town and Fringe - less sparse
SEN priorities
BESD - Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulty

rooms to rent in Bishop Auckland

Schools nearby

  1. 0.2 miles Cockfield Primary School DL135EN (112 pupils)
  2. 1.4 mile Butterknowle Primary School DL135PB (33 pupils)
  3. 1.7 mile Evenwood CofE Primary School DL149QZ (98 pupils)
  4. 1.9 mile Ramshaw Primary School DL149SD (72 pupils)
  5. 2.3 miles Staindrop CofE (Controlled) Primary School DL23NL (180 pupils)
  6. 2.4 miles Staindrop School A Business and Enterprise College DL23JU
  7. 2.4 miles Staindrop School An Academy DL23JU (540 pupils)
  8. 3.4 miles Toft Hill Primary School DL140JA (160 pupils)
  9. 3.4 miles Copeland Road Primary School DL149JJ (147 pupils)
  10. 3.6 miles Oakley Cross Primary School and Nursery DL149UD (159 pupils)
  11. 3.6 miles Woodland Primary School DL135RF (50 pupils)
  12. 3.6 miles Ingleton CofE Primary School DL23JE (78 pupils)
  13. 4.1 miles St Helen Auckland Community Primary School DL149EN (166 pupils)
  14. 4.3 miles Hamsterley Primary School DL133QF (30 pupils)
  15. 4.4 miles St Chad's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School DL140EP (95 pupils)
  16. 4.7 miles Witton-le-Wear Primary School DL140BG (95 pupils)
  17. 4.9 miles Escomb Primary School DL147SR (191 pupils)
  18. 5.1 miles Woodhouse Close Junior School DL146QW
  19. 5.1 miles Woodhouse Community Primary School DL146QW (207 pupils)
  20. 5.2 miles Woodhouse Close Infant School DL146QW
  21. 5.2 miles Bishop Auckland College DL146JZ
  22. 5.3 miles Gainford CofE Primary School DL23DR (93 pupils)
  23. 5.3 miles St John's Catholic School & Sixth Form Centre DL146JT
  24. 5.3 miles St John's School & Sixth Form College - A Catholic Academy DL146JT (1372 pupils)

List of schools in Bishop Auckland

Highcroft School

Independent school standard inspection report

DfE registration number 840/6012
Unique Reference Number (URN) 136748
Inspection number 393245
Inspection dates 2-3 May 2012
Reporting inspector Christine Inkster HMI

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Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

T: 0300 123 1231
Textphone: 0161 618 8524
E: reveal email: enqu…
No. 090070

Independent school standard inspection report


Purpose and scope of the inspection

This inspection was carried out by Ofsted under Section 162A of the Education Act
2002, as amended by schedule 8 of the Education Act 2005, the purpose of which is

to advise the Secretary of State for Education about the school’s suitability for

continued registration as an independent school.

1, 2

Information about the school

Highcroft School is a small independent special school for pupils with social,
emotional and behavioural difficulties. It is registered for 12 girls and boys aged from
11 to 16 years. There are currently five girls on roll aged from 13 to 15 years. Pupils
are referred by the local authority or by individual schools. Two pupils have a
statement of special educational needs and all five are in the care of a local
authority. The school is part of Keys Childcare, which is a national provider of special
education and residential accommodation.

The school’s mission statement states that the school aims to ‘establish a culture that

promotes excellence, equality and high achievement for all by striving for

unconditional regard for everyone’. Through small class sizes and a high staff-to-

pupil ratio, it aims to allow young people with complex problems who have failed in
the mainstream school setting to achieve their potential and succeed both

academically and socially. Particular emphasis is therefore put on fostering pupils’

social and inter-personal skills, as well as encouraging them to develop a positive
attitude towards study. The school opened in March 2011 and this is its first

Evaluation of the school

The school provides a good quality of education and meets its aims. The curriculum,
teaching and assessment are good and this enables pupils to make good progress in

their learning. The provision for pupils’ welfare, health and safety is good, including

the arrangements for safeguarding which are rigorous. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social

and cultural development and their behaviour are good and this does much to

promote pupils’ confidence, self-esteem and self-respect. The school meets all of the

regulations for continued registration as an independent school.

Quality of education

The quality of the curriculum is good. It is broad and balanced and covers the
National Curriculum programmes of study and all required areas of learning. There
are effective long-term, medium-term and short-term plans in place for these



Independent school standard inspection report


subjects and they are adapted to meet the specific needs of each pupil. Pupils are
given the opportunity to achieve Entry Level Certificates and some are following
courses leading to GCSE qualifications. The curriculum also incorporates work on the

Prince’s Trust programme and provides good opportunities for outdoor education.

Pupils participate in a wide range of activities which help them to develop effective
team-building and social skills including walking, personal fitness training, outdoor
survival, field cooking, abseiling, climbing and developing navigation skills. These
activities take place in a range of local venues, such as in Teesdale or Hamsterley
Forest. Pupils say they particularly enjoy their work in art and design and they have
produced some good work including in textiles, clay work, digital photography and
making jewellery and masks. There is a good range of educational visits, for example
to museums to promote learning in history and to the coast to study geographical
features. There is regular contact with pupils from the other settings in the Keys

Group and a number of joint activities take place, such as Open Days when pupils’

learning is celebrated. Personal, social, health (PSHE) and citizenship education is

taught in discrete lessons as well as throughout the curriculum and the Prince’s Trust
programme and this does much to promote pupils’ good personal development.

Careers education is provided on post-16 options and the school has effective links
with the Connexions service. Pupils enjoy a range of activities such as horse riding,
dancing, swimming, cheer leading and attending army cadets.
Teaching and assessment are good, enabling pupils to make good progress. Staff
have good subject knowledge and plan lessons carefully to ensure the needs of
individual pupils are met. They have a particularly good understanding of the needs
of disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs and ensure these
pupils have challenging but realistic targets which they can achieve. Staff work hard
to engage pupils who are sometimes reluctant to participate in learning and are
sensitive to the changing moods of pupils. Teachers ensure they adapt their teaching
to keep pupils interested and engaged. Teachers know pupils well and there are very

good relationships between staff and pupils. Teachers promote pupils’ speaking and

listening skills well by encouraging them to participate in a range of activities such as

when one pupil read out their description of a ‘Superhero’ and a partner had to draw
the ‘Superhero’ based on these details. Information and communication technology
(ICT) is used well to promote pupils’ learning, particularly when they are able to

carry out their own research. Staff make good use of practical activities to support
learning, for example, during a mathematics lesson they went to the nearby
recreation area to measure the speed at which a football was kicked across the field.
Pupils are ambitious and most have high expectations of themselves and what they
can achieve. More-able pupils are challenged effectively to ensure they reach their
full potential.
The quality of assessment is good. Regular assessments are carried out and recorded

in pupils’ individual files so that their progress can be traced. However, there is not

an overall tracking system which readily identifies how much progress the pupil
group has made over time from their individual starting points. Marking and
feedback are effective and pupils have a good understanding of how to improve their
work. At the end of each lesson, teachers evaluate how well each pupil has learned

Independent school standard inspection report


and identify in their planning the ‘next steps’ in learning, including further challenge
or support. The evidence seen in lessons, in pupils’ work and in their individual

record files shows that they are making good progress.

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils

Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Pupils’ understanding

of faiths and cultures other than their own is promoted well through aspects of the
curriculum such as religious education, PSHE and citizenship and through food
technology, where pupils prepare foods from different countries. They celebrate

different festivals and religions through particular ‘topic based’ weeks, such as those

with a focus on Chinese New Year or to celebrate Eid. Pupils have also participated in

a ‘Show Racism the red card’ project. However, opportunities are missed at the

beginning and end of the school day for pupils to develop aspects of their spiritual,
moral, social and cultural development as the tutorial sessions are not always used
as purposefully as they could be and pupils are sometimes late. Pupils say they enjoy
coming to school and their attendance is high, despite most pupils having
experienced a disrupted education previously. Most pupils are keen to learn and are
ambitious, knowing what future careers they wish to pursue and are aware of the
qualifications they will need to achieve their ambition. They participate in activities to
support their ambitions, for example, attending army cadets for one pupil who
wishes to join the army and dancing lessons for another pupil who wishes to pursue
a career in the performing arts. They are developing their social skills well through
participating in joint activities with pupils from other schools in the Keys Group.
Pupils learn about public institutions and services in England through PSHE and
citizenship lessons. For example, they were learning about members of the
government, local elections and which countries belong to the European Union in a
lesson seen during the inspection.

Pupils’ behaviour is good overall. Pupils respond well to rewards and achievement
assemblies each week and value the certificates they receive. Pupils’ behaviour is

improving and staff manage behaviour effectively, remaining calm and setting clear
expectations for pupils. Pupils are able to work and concentrate well for extended
periods of time although occasionally there are disagreements between pupils which
are quickly diffused by staff. There have been some incidents of bullying but these
have been appropriately dealt with by staff and pupils say they can talk to staff and
receive help when they need it. Pupils make a positive contribution to the
community, for example through growing vegetables in the allotment and sharing
them with local residents and through participating in an extended walk to raise
money for charity.

Welfare, health and safety of pupils

The provision for pupils’ welfare, health and safety is good. All staff have attended

the required safeguarding and child protection training and the headteacher has
completed safer recruitment training. All the required policies and procedures,
including those for anti-bullying, child protection, health and safety and first aid are

Independent school standard inspection report


in place and have regard to national guidance. Thorough risk assessments are
carried out, including for educational visits and outdoor education activities. Fire
safety requirements are met, fire plans are in place and regular fire drills and checks
on equipment are carried out. Pupils are closely supervised in school and on school
visits. Pupils greatly appreciate the positive behaviour management strategies
employed, including the presentation of certificates for good behaviour each week.
Pupils say teaching staff are approachable and care for them very well. There are
good opportunities to participate in sports and other physical activities such as dance
and horse riding. Pupils are encouraged to eat healthily and have healthy snacks and
meals throughout the day. Through the curriculum, pupils are encouraged to live
healthy lifestyles, for example, through shared sessions with pupils from another
school led by staff from the National Health Service. An up-to-date accessibility plan
shows how the school meets its obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors

All the required checks, including criminal records bureau checks, to confirm the
suitability of proprietors and staff are carried out and meet requirements. Evidence
of these checks and the dates when they were made are recorded appropriately in a
single central register.

Premises and accommodation at the school

The classrooms and other teaching areas, including an ICT suite and kitchen, are
attractive and well-equipped. Pupils have had the opportunity to choose the colours
for decoration and are encouraged to keep the classrooms clean and tidy. The
outdoor area is small and limits the opportunities for play outdoors, but there is a
recreation area very close to the school and this is regularly used for sports and play
activities and pupils also attend a local gymnasium.

Provision of information

All of the required information is provided, or made available to parents, carers and
others. There is an attractive prospectus and website which provide essential
information for parents, carers and others, including placing local authorities.
Informative termly reports are provided for parents, carers and others but annual
reports are not yet available as these will be completed at the end of the first
academic year of operation.

Manner in which complaints are to be handled

The complaints procedure and policy meet all the requirements. There is a separate
leaflet for pupils which can easily be followed.

Independent school standard inspection report


Compliance with regulatory requirements

The proprietor has ensured that the school meets The Education (Independent

School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010, schedule 1 (‘the Regulations’).

What the school could do to improve further

While not required by regulations, the school might wish to consider the following

points for development:

  • develop a whole-school tracking system to show more readily how much
    progress pupils have made over time from their starting points
  • ensure that tutorial sessions at the beginning and end of the school day
    have a particular purpose, for example, to promote pupils’ spiritual,
    moral, social and cultural development further.
    Independent school standard inspection report


Inspection judgements
good satisfactory inadequate

The quality of education

Overall quality of education
How well the curriculum and other activities meet the range of needs
and interests of pupils
How effective teaching and assessment are in meeting the full range
of pupils’ needs
How well pupils make progress in their learning

Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

Quality of provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural
The behaviour of pupils

Welfare, health and safety of pupils

The overall welfare, health and safety of pupils

Independent school standard inspection report


School details

School status Independent
Type of school Special school for pupils with social, emotional
and behavioural difficulties (SEBD)
Date school opened 17 March 2011
Age range of pupils 11-16
Gender of pupils Mixed
Number on roll (full-time pupils) Boys: 0 Girls: 5 Total: 5
Number on roll (part-time pupils) Boys: 0 Girls: 0 Total: 0
Number of pupils with a statement of
special educational needs
Boys: 0 Girls: 2 Total: 2
Number of pupils who are looked after Boys: 0 Girls: 5 Total: 5
Annual fees (day pupils) £24,000
Headteacher Mr David Laheney
Proprietor Mrs Heather Laffin

Independent school standard inspection report


4 May 2012
Dear Pupils

Inspection of Highcroft School

Thank you for the welcome I received when I visited your school recently and for
talking to me about your views of the school. I enjoyed my visit very much. I would
like to tell you what I found out.
Yours is a good school. You told me that you enjoy working with your teachers and
that they help you with your learning. You are making good progress with your work
because, as you told me, work is given at the right level for each of you. Teaching
and assessment are good and teachers plan a range of activities to interest you such
as developing your survival and outdoor skills. The curriculum covers a wide range of
subjects and some of you told me you particularly enjoy art and design. I was
impressed with the masks that you made. You have opportunities to participate in
activities which interest you, such as army cadets or dancing and you are aware that
these experiences may help you in your chosen careers. The staff care about you
and they work hard to ensure that they help each one of you as best they can to
keep you safe and healthy. Your behaviour is mainly good in lessons although
sometimes you say you would like other pupils to work more quietly so that you can
concentrate better.
All schools need to improve so I have asked that the teachers keep a whole-school
overview of how much progress you are making in all subjects from your starting
points when you first joined the school. I have also asked that tutorial sessions are
used for a particular purpose and it would help greatly if you could ensure that you
attend the session first thing in the morning on time, so that time is not wasted and
so you have a good start to the day. Thank you for your help. I wish you all much
success in the future.
Yours sincerely
Christine Inkster

Her Majesty’s Inspector

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