‘Outstanding’ success story as Oak Bank School in Leighton Buzzard wows Ofsted inspectors

Oak Bank School, a special school based in Leighton Buzzard School, has been judged as ‘Outstanding’ following its recent Ofsted inspection,

Catering specifically for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs , the highest ranking follows on from its previous ‘Outstanding’ judgement in July 2015.

'Outstanding' Oak Bank School

'Outstanding' Oak Bank School

Inspectors Kim Hall and Lynda Walker visited Oak Bank School in Sandy Lane in March and their findings have now been published.

Since the last inspection in 2015, the number of pupils attending the school has grown significantly from 73 to 105, and the age range has increased to include a 6th form.

The latest report shows that the school received an ‘outstanding’ rating in all areas – effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; outcomes for pupils and 16-19 study programmes.

To enable the growth in pupil numbers, the school has benefitted from successful capital build bids to provide additional teaching spaces and a sports hall. The school has also received generous support from the Connolly Foundation that has enabled an amazing climbing wall to be fitted in the new sports hall.

The climbing wall at Oak Bank School

The climbing wall at Oak Bank School

The report said: “Pupils achieve so impressively, because leaders and teachers are skilled at finding ways to help pupils re-engage with education.”

Teaching was praised as ‘outstanding’ with the report saying: “The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is consistently strong within all subjects and for the different key stages. Teachers and support staff have highly positive relationships with pupils, built on mutual respect. In both academic and vocational subjects, adults have created purposeful learning environments built on pupils working hard and making good progress.”

The support staff were also recognised: “Support staff are deployed effectively and make a strong contribution to how well pupils learn in lessons.

“They are skilled and help pupils understand the activities and expectations.”

The school says it values highly the positive relationships that are built with parents and carers of its pupils. This was highlighted during the inspection: “Parents speak enthusiastically about the wealth of assistance that staff provide to families. Many parents reported that staff go above and beyond what is expected. They value the care and guidance their children receive.”

The report went on to say: “The quality of careers education and guidance is exceptional. Pupils are provided with a wide range of external provision that is carefully and thoughtfully considered with pupils’ interests in mind. Consequently, by the time they leave school, pupils mostly have clear pathways into work, college, the sixth form or occasionally apprenticeships.”

Executive headteacher, Peter Cohen, said he was delighted that the continued dedication and hard work of the staff team has again been recognised during the inspection.

He said: “This report reflects an amazing team effort. The school benefits greatly from highly effective support from its governors (many of whom are local Rotarians) who have provided the depth of commercial and business experience and challenge necessary to ensure the school has continued to develop.

“It is also essential that the pupils are praised for affirming to the inspectors their pride in attending Oak Bank.”

He added: “Oak Bank believes that every child has a right to achieve, which is why the staff work closely with parents and carers, as well as the community and local businesses, to create opportunities that challenge and guide the pupils.

“The aim for all our pupils is for a full and fulfilling independent life, where they are equipped to make positive contributions to their community.

“I am delighted for everyone involved with the school and look forward to the next chapter in the school’s future. We are already planning for an additional ten pupils from September 2019 and hope to be able to continue developing the resources available for the pupils that are part of our ‘Outstanding’ school.”