The inspection was carried out by an Additional Inspector.
Description of the school
Moving On provides for students with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. The majority have been permanently excluded from mainstream or special schools; some are returning to full time education after a period of custody in young offender institutions. A very small minority have statements of special educational need. A few students have not previously been excluded, but the local authority has found it hard to place them in mainstream schools. When the unit was inspected in 2006, it also provided for Year 12 students. Funding for this provision has since ended. It has been replaced by a pilot scheme to prevent the exclusion of some students who are still on the roll of mainstream schools. These students spend some time in the unit and some time on extended work placements. Students come from different ethnic groups, with the largest proportions being of White British or Black Caribbean background. A few students are looked-after children, in the care of the local authority.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Moving On provides students with a last chance to succeed in their final year of compulsory education. It does so very effectively. Despite the severe difficulties that they have experienced in mainstream education, most students successfully grasp the opportunities they are offered. This is partly because they recognise the outstanding care, guidance and support that staff provide. Staff know individual students well and provide a very good balance of vocational and academic courses to meet their needs. Although attendance remains below the average of mainstream schools, for the majority of students it improves significantly during their time in the unit. They begin to enjoy their education for the first time that they can remember. Students rightly say, 'It's because you can talk to staff about your problems at any time. We know we're doing better and want to carry on doing it.' Not surprisingly, given students' social and emotional difficulties, there are still occasional outbursts of challenging behaviour, especially when students first attend the unit. However, staff deal effectively with such incidents. Behaviour improves, students feel safe and there are very few incidents of bullying or racism. They respond well to opportunities to contribute to the community and to take responsibility in the unit itself. Excellent links with local training providers enable a large proportion of students to move into further education, training or employment after their year in the unit.
Students' excellent relationships with staff and much improved attitudes also enable them to achieve well. They benefit from good teaching, as teachers have good knowledge of their subjects, high expectations of their students and manage classes well. Standards are low by comparison with those expected nationally, but all groups of students make significantly better progress than they have done in their previous schools. They gain a range of qualifications, from unit awards to GCSE passes. The achievement of more able students has improved since the last inspection, when GCSE courses were not available, and several achieved well to reach grade C in English or mathematics.
Strong leadership from the headteacher, with good support from a newly-formed senior leadership team, has resulted in good improvement since the last inspection. In particular, a move to new premises has been managed efficiently. The new accommodation has boosted the self-esteem of staff and students. Students are proud of their new classrooms and facilities and look after them. However, they rightly point out that they have no outdoor recreation area and no classroom for food technology. This limits the extent to which they can learn about healthy eating and develop healthy lifestyles through more frequent exercise. Self-evaluation has improved and is now satisfactory. Regular monitoring of teaching and learning has eradicated any inadequate teaching, but it is not yet sufficiently focussed on specific areas for development. For example, senior staff have not concentrated enough on improving teachers' use of assessment in lessons, even though they have identified this as a comparative weakness in otherwise good teaching and learning. The unit now has a wealth of data with which senior and middle managers can evaluate the effectiveness of their work. However, this is not yet analysed rigorously enough to set precise targets for further improvement.
What the school should do to improve further
Achievement and standards
Students enter the unit with very low standards, because of the severe difficulties that they have experienced in their previous schools. Many have frequently been excluded before attending the unit, therefore missing a lot of their education. Few arrive with any completed coursework from their time in Year 10. As they only attend the unit for the final year of their education, there is little time in which teachers can help them to catch up. Despite this, students begin to make good progress, especially when they attend regularly. Since the last inspection, the unit has made good progress in meeting the needs of more able students, by enabling them to enter GCSE examinations and meet challenging targets. In 2007, several gained at least one GCSE pass, or an equivalent vocational qualification in English, mathematics or information and communications technology (ICT). Other students gained adult literacy and numeracy qualifications, entry level qualifications and unit awards in a wide range of subjects. Current standards are similar. Although they remain low by comparison with national figures, this represents good achievement for students who had little prospect of gaining nationally recognised qualifications before attending the unit. Students from different backgrounds achieve equally well.
Personal development and well-being
Students develop well, personally and socially, especially in view of the severe difficulties that they have previously experienced. They feel very safe in the unit as there are very few incidents of bullying and they clearly trust teachers and support staff. Their more positive attitudes and increasing enjoyment of education are shown by their improving attendance and behaviour. Although there remain some persistent absentees, attendance of the majority improves very significantly by comparison with their time in mainstream schools. Students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. They respond very well to opportunities to reflect on moral issues. For example, in a religious studies and citizenship lesson, students expressed mature views about the morality of fertility treatment to enable people to have children. An English class discussed relationships between characters in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with real insight. Students take responsibility in the unit by making constructive suggestions through the student council. They develop good literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. Along with their good experience of work related learning, this prepares them well for future employment and training. Students increase their awareness of how to lead healthy lifestyles. They are very enthusiastic about a forthcoming film that they have been involved in, highlighting the dangers of drug abuse.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The good quality of teaching and learning is based on the excellent relationships that teachers establish with students. This enables teachers to deal effectively with any challenging behaviour and keep students working hard. Students generally want to learn, as shown by their willingness to take part in class discussions and listen to each other's views. Teachers lead these discussions well, but miss opportunities to encourage students to take more responsibility for their own learning, by working in pairs or small groups. Teachers have high expectations and pitch work at the right level to challenge students. Along with teaching assistants, they also provide enough individual support to ensure that students can understand and complete work. The headteacher has rightly identified the need to improve the way in which teachers help students to assess their own learning in lessons. Teachers have started to do this and much of their marking is helpful and supportive. They usually explain objectives at the start of lessons. However, they do not always reinforce them enough during lessons, or return to them at the end. As a result, students are unsure about what they need to do to improve.
Curriculum and other activities
There are some very good features of the unit's curriculum. It provides a very good balance of vocational and academic opportunities for students. In the unit itself, there is an appropriate focus on the key skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT. A range of accreditation, from unit awards to entry-level qualifications and GCSE is available. This ensures that individual students' needs can be met, according to their levels of attainment on entry to the unit and the progress that they make. Courses in personal, social and health education (PSHE), religious studies and citizenship are also provided, which help students to reflect on moral issues and come to terms with their own social and emotional difficulties. A drama course has recently enabled students to investigate the dangers of the misuse of drugs by producing a short film, with support from professional actors and technicians. Close links with local work related learning providers significantly extend the range of opportunities that the unit can offer. These prepare students well for the world of work, extend the number of qualifications they gain and keep them interested and engaged.
The unit provides some off-site sports activities, such as gym sessions and kickboxing. These provide opportunities for physical activity but do not fully compensate for the unit's lack of sports facilities. This, and the lack of opportunities for food technology or cookery, limits the extent to which students can learn about and develop healthy lifestyles.
Care, guidance and support
The unit's outstanding care, guidance and support stems from the dedication of all staff to meeting students' needs. It is backed up by efficient systems to provide practical support. Through weekly reviews with staff who are designated as 'progress partners', students agree individual targets for improving their behaviour, attendance and work. Staff track students' progress closely and are aware of any who are underachieving. Where necessary, further support is available from pastoral support workers. Teachers provide extra lessons at the end of the day to boost some students' progress. As one student said, 'Everyone knows what their targets are. Lots of us go to after-school lessons because we want to improve.' A similar system, led by the unit's work related learning coordinator, ensures that students' attendance and progress on off-site courses is closely monitored and supported. Students respond very well to the clear system of rewards for improving their behaviour and attendance.
Excellent links with a range of outside agencies ensure professional support for students with more severe needs. Child protection procedures are thorough and the welfare of looked-after children is closely monitored. The unit provides excellent advice and support for students' future careers and further education. As a result, a high proportion of students gain places in further education colleges or with training providers when they leave.
Leadership and management
The headteacher provides very good leadership during a time of change for the unit. Since the last inspection, the unit has carried out a pilot scheme to meet the needs of Year 12 students. It is now successfully piloting a project to reduce the number of permanent exclusions from mainstream schools by providing part-time support for several pupils who remain on the roll of their secondary school. These initiatives have been well managed. The recent move into new accommodation has also been managed efficiently, with minimum disruption to students.
All staff work together as a dedicated team. They have responded well to areas for development that were identified by the previous inspection. The appointment of two permanent deputy headteachers has strengthened the management team and the unit has good capacity for further improvement. Procedures for evaluating the work of the unit have improved. Self-evaluation is now satisfactory. However, the senior leadership team recognises the need to analyse the wealth of data that it collects more rigorously. The unit previously had an advisory committee. This has now been properly constituted as a management committee and is well placed to provide greater support and challenge for the unit.