Inspectors find pupils 'enjoy' going to lessons at Wigan special school

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A special school where pupils “feel safe” and enjoy going to lessons has been given top marks by education inspectors.

Ofsted found that Willow Grove Primary in Ashton was still “outstanding”, the same high score it was given in its last full inspection in 2011.

Lead inspector Simon Hunter wrote: “Pupils said that they enjoy coming to Willow Grove. They told inspectors that staff make learning interesting. They also said that they feel safe at school, and know that staff care about them.”

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He found that parents and were “overwhelmingly positive” about the school, which teaches pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Ofsted reported that Willow Grove pupils feel safeOfsted reported that Willow Grove pupils feel safe
Ofsted reported that Willow Grove pupils feel safe
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There were a “wide range” of clubs and activities for youngsters before the pandemic, which will return soon, and pupils took “very seriously” their responsibilities on committees such as the school council.

Leaders were said to be “ambitious” and have “high expectations” of all of the pupils, with a “broad and balanced curriculum” in place.

They were “skilled” at identifying the needs of pupils and the personal, social and health education (PHSE) curriculum had been developed specifically for them.

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Ofsted found pupils built on what they already knew and staff used assessment information to identify any gaps in learning, with reading made a high priority due to gaps in children’s skills when they joined the school.

Governors were said to take their responsibilities seriously and safeguarding arrangements were “effective”.

Mr Hunter wrote: “Pupils learn to respect different cultures and religions through lessons, visits, visitors and assemblies. They particularly value the residential trips that develop teamwork and resilience. They respond well to the consistent routines of the school. The atmosphere in school is calm and productive. This helps pupils to behave well, work hard and concentrate in lessons.”

Ofsted recommended that the school could improve by ensuring new subject leaders have a greater influence over the quality of education in their areas of responsibility and that staff have the necessary subject-specific knowledge to deliver the full curriculum with confidence.

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A full inspection of the school will be carried out in the next year or two, as the inspectors felt “the evidence gathered suggests that the inspection grade might not be as high if a full inspection were carried out now”.

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