The Castle School
phone: 01635 42976
headteacher: Mr Jon Hewitt
150 pupils capacity: 94% full
105 boys 74%
35 girls 25%
Last updated: June 19, 2014
— Community Special School
- Establishment type
- Community Special School
- Establishment #
- OSGB coordinates
- Easting: 446772, Northing: 168794
- GPS coordinates
- Latitude: 51.416, Longitude: -1.3288
- Accepting pupils
- 2—19 years old
- Census date
- Jan. 16, 2014
- Ofsted last inspection
- July 11, 2012
- Region › Const. › Ward
- South East › Newbury › Speen
- Hamlet and Isolated Dwelling - less sparse
- Main specialism
- SEN communication and interaction (Operational)
- SEN priorities
- ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Special classes
- Has Special Classes
- Investor in People
- Committed IiP Status
- Sixth form
- Has a sixth form
- Free school meals %
- Learning provider ref #
- 0.2 miles Shaw-cum-Donnington C.E. Primary School RG142JG (83 pupils)
- 0.5 miles Winchcombe Nursery and Infant School RG141LN
- 0.5 miles Shaw House School RG142DU
- 0.5 miles Trinity School RG142DU
- 0.5 miles The Winchcombe School RG141LN (334 pupils)
- 0.5 miles Trinity School RG142DU (845 pupils)
- 0.6 miles Speenhamland Primary School RG141NU (272 pupils)
- 0.6 miles Winchcombe Junior School RG141LN
- 0.6 miles Robert Sandilands Primary School and Nursery RG141TS (244 pupils)
- 0.8 miles Victoria Park Nursery School & Children's Centre RG141EH (137 pupils)
- 0.9 miles St Joseph's Catholic Primary School RG142AW (199 pupils)
- 1.2 mile The Turnpike School RG142PS
- 1.3 mile St Nicolas C.E. Junior School RG147LU (254 pupils)
- 1.3 mile The Quay Rapid Response and Home Education RG142FG
- 1.3 mile Newbury Hall School RG146AD (37 pupils)
- 1.4 mile Mary Hare School RG143BQ (230 pupils)
- 1.4 mile Engaging Potential RG142PR (12 pupils)
- 1.5 mile Newbury Preparatory School RG146AN
- 1.6 mile Newbury Primary Day Unit RG147BT
- 1.6 mile Fir Tree Primary School and Nursery RG142RA
- 1.6 mile Greenwood School RG189EF
- 1.6 mile Alternative Curriculum 14-19 RG147BT (47 pupils)
- 1.6 mile Fir Tree Primary School and Nursery RG142RA (201 pupils)
- 1.7 mile St John the Evangelist C.E. Nursery and Infant Sch RG147DE (205 pupils)
The Castle School
Love Lane, Newbury. RG14 2JG
|Inspection dates||7–8 October 2014|
|Overall effectiveness||This inspection:||Outstanding||1|
|Leadership and management||Outstanding||1|
|Behaviour and safety of pupils||Outstanding||1|
|Quality of teaching||Outstanding||1|
|Achievement of pupils||Outstanding||1|
|Early years provision||Outstanding||1|
|Sixth form provision||Outstanding||1|
Summary of key findings for parents and pupils
This is an outstanding school because:
| Much of the teaching over time has been |
The pupils make outstanding progress particularly
Younger children in the Nursery and Reception
The sixth form is outstanding. Pupils make
Teachers know their pupils very well. They
Adults are well trained in the use of additional
consistently outstanding and has improved since
the previous inspection.
in communication, reading and number work.
classes are very well prepared for school life
through excellent teaching. Children make
outstanding progress in developing their academic
and personal skills.
exceptional progress both academically and in
preparing for further education at the local
carefully check their progress and adapt activities
with great skill so that activities are set at the
communication aids. They make excellent use of
these to help remove barriers to learning
experienced by pupils with complex needs.
| Pupils’ behaviour is outstanding. Pupils respond well |
The extremely high quality of personal care each
The headteacher has led the development of an
Governors are well informed about all aspects of
to the interesting and varied activities they
experience. They enjoy school and their attendance
is above average
pupil receives results in them feeling safe and
outstanding leadership team. Together, they
regularly check the quality of teaching and pupils’
progress. They also inspire teachers and other
adults to strive to help pupils achieve their best.
the school’s work. As a result, they bring a high
level of challenge and support to the school’s
Information about this inspection
- Inspectors observed 15 lessons and parts of lessons, all of which were joint observations with senior staff.
- Meetings were held with pupils, teachers, senior leaders, the Chair of the Governing Body, another
governor and a representative from the local authority.
- Inspectors took into account the school’s surveys of parents’ opinions about the school. There were
insufficient entries on Parent View (on-line questionnaire), to be considered. The inspection team also took
account of the 61 completed staff questionnaires.
- The inspection team observed the school’s work and looked at a range of documentation including self-
evaluation and development planning. Inspectors checked records of pupils’ progress and behaviour since
the previous inspection as well as monitoring reports on the quality of teaching and the range of subjects.
Pupils’ attendance records were analysed as well as all aspects of procedures relating to the safeguarding
of the children.
|Melvyn Blackband, Lead Inspector||Additional Inspector|
|Lynne Thoroughgood||Additional Inspector|
Information about this school
- The school caters for pupils with a wide range of special educational needs that include severe and
profound learning difficulties and those with a diagnosis of autism. All the pupils have a statement of
special educational needs.
- Almost all the pupils are of White British heritage. There are very few pupils from minority ethnic groups
and very few pupils speak English as an additional language. About two thirds of pupils are boys.
- The proportion of pupils eligible for additional government funding, known as the pupil premium is above
average. This is funding intended to support eligible pupils who are entitled to free school meals or are
who looked after by the local authority. All Year 7 pupils are eligible for additional government ‘Catch-up’
funding to improve their literacy and numeracy.
- The school does not enter pupils early for public examinations.
- The school is on three sites. The main school provides for pupils aged 5−16. There is a separate nursery,
where pupils attend part time and students in the sixth form are taught in specialist facilities at Newbury
What does the school need to do to improve further?
- Ensure that teachers and other staff record the small steps in progress made by pupils during lessons, in a
consistent format so that:
records can be more effectively shared with other teachers as pupils move through the school
senior leaders can access and make use of information on the pupils’ progress, more easily.
|The leadership and management||are outstanding|
- Senior leaders demonstrate an uncompromising drive to raise the quality of teaching and pupils’
achievement. They are very well led by the headteacher whose ambition to ensure all pupils fulfil their
potential is effectively supported by the governing body.
- The newly appointed middle leaders for English and mathematics have already beginning to have a
positive impact on improving teaching and pupils’ progress. The leadership of the Early Years Foundation
Stage and sixth form is outstanding. Staff morale is high. Many staff commented how proud they felt to be
part of ‘such a wonderful school’. There is a culture of high expectations of both pupils and staff to which
all members of the school’s community aspire.
- A key feature of the school’s success lies in the continual rigorous and comprehensive checking of every
aspect of its work. Self-evaluation is honest and accurate. Leaders are very well supported by the local
authority and monitored rigorously by governors, which demonstrates strong capacity to improve further.
- The school maintains detailed overall records of pupils’ achievement and well-being. The checking of each
pupil’s progress is a strength of the school. As a result, support is quickly put in place, should pupils not
perform as well as they should. However, not all teachers record pupils’ progress in the same format. This
means that sharing the information between classes take more time. Additional government funding, has
been used well to ensure disadvantaged pupils can achieve as well as their peers, especially in
communication and literacy.
- Pupils with complex learning difficulties and those with a diagnosis of autism receive skilled teaching and
as a result, achieve very well. The equal opportunities of every pupil are fully promoted. There is no
discrimination and this helps to ensure that the school is a cohesive community.
- The quality of teaching is checked regularly. There are very effective strategies in setting targets for
teachers clearly linked to pupils’ progress. There encourage and challenge teachers’ improvement and
reward good performance. The training and development of all staff has made a significant impact on
raising teaching standards.
- The school offers a wide range of subjects. Children in the Nursery and Reception Year make excellent
progress in all areas of learning and in their personal development. Pupils higher up the school experience
activities that are set at the right level, particularly in the areas of communication, literacy and
mathematics. Older pupils have the opportunity to follow a wide range of academic and work related
courses leading to qualifications at GCSE, or Entry Level. The courses are maintained and built on into the
sixth form in close liaison with Newbury College
- Reading, for instance, has been a priority in recent years and has been extremely successful in raising
standards throughout the school. Reading, writing and number are practised in every subject.
- The additional government sports funding has been well used to promote the well-being of primary aged
pupils through staff training in dance and gymnastics and through the purchase of equipment. Also, older
pupils studying sports leadership qualifications write about aspects of fitness and sporting activity.
- Pupils experience a range of cultural experiences designed to challenge them to achieve as highly as they
can. Pupils, for instance, are able to study for nationally recognised qualifications in playing musical
instruments, such as the tenor horn. A group of pupils performed with professionals in a concert at the
Royal Albert Hall. The curriculum has a positive impact on the pupils’ academic achievement. Their
behaviour and well-being contributes very well to their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development,
and they are well prepared for life in modern Britain.
- Parents are overwhelming very satisfied with the school’s work. They value the communication with school
and are confident that their children are taught well and effectively cared for.
- Safeguarding arrangements are secure and meet current statutory requirements
- The governance of the school:
Governors are very well informed and have a good understanding of information on pupils’ progress,
how it compares with similar schools, and the management of teachers’ performance. They effectively
oversee financial control including the salary arrangements for teaching. They maintain close
supervision of additional government funding and regularly check the impact on the pupils’ progress
and well-being. They often visit the school, informally observing teaching and speaking with staff.
There are regular health and safety checks. Consequently, governors are able to challenge school
leaders very effectively. They take part in regular training, such as in aspects of child protection and
safeguarding and in the use of performance information on pupils’ progress. They ensure that current
statutory requirements are met.
|The behaviour and safety of pupils||is outstanding|
- The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. Pupils love their school. They have very positive attitudes to all
their learning and enjoy taking part in all their activities. Their attendance is well above national
expectations. As a result, they make excellent progress.
- The school is a calm and harmonious place of learning. The pupils’ behaviour in the dining room and
outside is outstanding. Pupils are supportive of each other, they share play equipment without fuss and
they are very responsive to adults looking after them. Over time, they gain a good understanding of how
their behaviour affects others and gradually learn to take responsibility for their own conduct.
- Bullying is almost unknown. The pupils try very hard to get along with everyone. One pupil said that, ‘The
bully would be very unpopular’. The school’s records confirm that there are very few incidents.
- Pupils gain a good understanding of different forms of bullying, including internet safety. There have been
no incidents of racist or homophobic language.
- The staff manage behaviour extremely well. There are exemplary policies and written procedures which
are consistently followed as a result of on-going training for all staff. When on occasion, a pupil becomes
upset or confused and behaviour becomes challenging, incidents are dealt with professionally and
positively. Pupils quickly calm down and continue their learning.
- The school’s comprehensive records show a significant decrease in incidents since the previous inspection.
Any incidents are carefully recorded and specific action taken. Tailored very precisely for the individual
pupil and based on the detailed knowledge adults have of their pupils’ personal development.
- All adults are very well trained in providing for the needs of the pupils. Adults communicate extremely
effectively with the pupils on a level and in a way best suited to the individual pupil. They make sure that
pupils understand clearly what to do and what to expect in each situation. This has a significant positive
impact in helping to reduce the pupils’ anxiety and ensuring both lessons and less formal situations are
calm and purposeful.
- Parents, staff and pupils are very positive about the management of behaviour.
- The school’s work to keep pupils safe and secure is outstanding. Statutory safeguarding requirements are
met and scrupulously followed. The protection of all the pupils is the major priority of the school staff. The
pupils are very well supervised at all times. Adults manage the pupils’ care effectively, for instance in
moving and hoisting pupils with severe disabilities. Risk assessments for all aspects of the pupils’ care are
detailed and thorough and very well monitored.
|The quality of teaching||is outstanding|
- The quality of teaching over time is outstanding. It has improved significantly since the previous inspection
because of regular and rigorous monitoring by senior staff, accompanied by extensive and supportive
training. As a result, pupils’ progress is outstanding.
- Teachers have very high expectations of their pupils’ achievement. Pupils’ progress in each session is
scrupulously checked and recorded. This leads to targets which are reviewed on a daily basis and which
effectively challenge the pupils to make the best progress that they can. Each teacher maintains excellent
records but there is no uniform system for this procedure across the school. This can on occasion make
the transfer of records between teachers more difficult and can be a hindrance to senior staff as they
check on the pupils’ progress.
- Teachers are very successful in providing interesting activities in English and mathematics, which are set
at the right level, which build effectively on what they have already learned.
- Adults are skilled in responding to the needs of all the pupils. They use structured language well and
precisely with individual pupils to promote their vocabulary and understanding. Additional communication
aids such as symbols and pictures are used effectively to help pupils understand their learning and what is
expected of them. Pupils with additional complex physical and learning disabilities are carefully helped to
make sense of their world through very well designed sensory experiences.
- The most able pupils are set more challenging activities tailored to their ability and interests, which helps
them to make excellent progress.
- There are very effective teams of adults. Support staff have been very well trained and provide high
quality teaching, under the teacher’s direction, for individual pupils. Adults use their very good
understanding of their pupils to adapt work throughout the lesson in order to accelerate their
progress.Pupils consistently are made aware of when they have done well and how they can make their
|The achievement of pupils||is outstanding|
- Pupils, including the smaller proportion of girls, make sustained progress throughout the school,
including in the Nursery, Reception year and the sixth form. Their attainment remains low but from their
different starting points almost every pupil makes good or better progress when compared with similar
- Pupils’ progress in communication and in reading is exceptional. Their progress in writing and
mathematics, while still outstanding is slightly below this. As a result of skilled teaching in
communication, including reading, pupils achieve very well. The school’s records show impressive gains in
reading ability over a sustained period.
- Pupils with complex needs achieve very well as a result of excellent teaching, using a range of additional
communication aids. Communication, at a variety of levels, is taught very successfully in the Nursery and
Reception Year and this prepares pupils well to make further progress. As pupils move through the school
they make outstanding progress in identifying shapes then letters, and using the sounds letters make.
The most able pupils successfully go on to read increasingly complex texts and reading books. This
prepares them very well for success in gaining accreditation in Year 11 and through the sixth form.
- Pupils who are eligible for additional government funding, including pupil premium and ‘catch-up’ funding,
make equally good progress. The school’s detailed tracking records clearly show that there are no
differences in the attainment of these pupils in English or mathematics, to the rest of the school and they
achieve more highly than pupils nationally with similar learning disabilities.
- More able pupils are successfully challenged to achieve as highly as they can, with some taking GCSEs.
- Older pupils without exception gain a range of qualifications suitable to their abilities. On occasion, pupils
are successful in GCSE mathematics. The most able pupils achieve a variety of Entry Level qualifications
in English and mathematics, science and other more work related subjects.
- Students in sixth form continue these courses at higher levels, in partnership with Newbury College. The
students are well prepared for the transition to further college education. For instance, in recent years, all
students have gone on to further education or training. A few of the most able students have been
successfully encouraged and supported into full-time work placements and later employment.
|The early years provision||is outstanding|
- Most children enter the provision with low levels of attainment. From these starting points, they make
excellent progress in all areas of their learning. Teachers and other adults carefully analyse their needs
and abilities and provide personalised learning. This enables them to make outstanding progress and
prepares them very well for their life in school.
- The children thrive in a very well resourced and stimulating environment, shared with other mainstream
children. They are highly motivated, demonstrate good levels of curiosity and concentration and are
responsive to adults and each other. As a result, children make excellent progress in their personal skills
and in their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- Teaching by all adults is outstanding. A variety of communication strategies, are used to ensure clear and
consistent modelling of behaviour. Adults encourage children to take part in a rich variety of ‘free’ and
more formal learning activities.
- Adults very effectively check on the childrens’ learning and progress. The childrens’ ‘learning journals’
contain regular, detailed observations of their progress, accompanied by photographic records. There are
excellent partnerships with parents. They greatly appreciate the way they are welcomed into the nursery
and most are successfully involved in checking the progress of their child.
- The childrens’ behaviour is outstanding. They quickly learn to take turns and to interact socially. For
example during ‘free flow activities’, they integrate well with mainstream children. They eat and drink
their snacks sensibly and demonstrate ‘good manners’, because of the high expectations of adults.
- The children are kept very safe and secure. There are robust policies and procedures to guarantee their
- The provision is managed outstandingly well. There are very high expectations of the performance of
staff. The high levels of expertise are well supported by regular further training.
|The sixth form provision||is outstanding|
- Students achieve highly because of excellent teaching and courses which are very well adapted to the
students’ abilities and interests. The curriculum ensures students gain basic skills of reading, writing and
mathematics across a range of academic, work related and leisure activities. Almost all students
successfully gain qualifications in basic skills and in subjects such as catering, agriculture, animal care
and sports leadership.
- Courses are very well adapted to the abilities of the students. Students with profound and complex needs
make excellent progress in communication, in learning to make choices and in personal and social
development. The most able students are given outstanding encouragement and guidance in choosing
the most appropriate programmes of study to meet their future needs and ambitions. The school ensures
that parents are fully involved in making these choices.
- There are excellent links with local business. Students have valuable opportunities to take part in a range
of work related learning and work experience. As a result, some students have successfully made the
transition to full-time employment.
- Teaching is outstanding. Adults regard the students as partners in their learning and fully involve them in
self assessment of their work and in discussing their progress. Students are confident in knowing how
well they are doing and how to improve their work. Teachers have very high expectations of their
students’ work and conduct. Students respond very well to the challenges they are given and this has a
significant impact on their outstanding progress.
- There are generally seamless links into college life. When students are judged to be ready for full-time
college attendance, they move onto related courses. All the students complete their courses. All students
over the past few years have successfully gained further qualifications at either Newbury or other local
- The leadership and management of the sixth form are outstanding. Leaders ensure that students follow a
curriculum which is effectively tailored to their individual needs. They rigorously check on teaching
standards and make sure that students receive very high quality careers advice and guidance. Leaders
effectively ensure the students’ safety.
What inspection judgements mean
|Grade 1||Outstanding||An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes that |
provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures that pupils
are very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or
|Grade 2||Good||A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well for all |
its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their
education, training or employment.
|Grade 3||Requires |
|A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it is not |
inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within 24 months
from the date of this inspection.
|Grade 4||Inadequate||A school that requires special measures is one where the school is failing |
to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the school’s
leaders, managers or governors have not demonstrated that they have
the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school. This
school will receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.
A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and requires
significant improvement but leadership and management are judged to
be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular monitoring by
|Unique reference number||110182|
|Local authority||West Berkshire|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||Special|
|School category||Community special|
|Age range of pupils||3–19|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Gender of pupils in the sixth form||mixed|
|Number of pupils on the school roll||149|
|Of which, number on roll in sixth form||30|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Date of previous school inspection||11–12 July 2012|
|Telephone number||01635 42976|
|Fax number||01635 51725|