West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College in Leeds for pupils aged 2-19 is celebrating its third outstanding OFSTED inspection in the last decade. Graded outstanding in both 2007 and 2012, the inspection on April 19th 2017 further validated the excellent practice and outstanding progress of the 234 pupils. The school is based on two main sites in Boston Spa and Woodhouse areas of Leeds and educates pupils who have complex special educational needs.

The school is particularly proud of the outcome as the Woodhouse Learning site was newly built and opened in 2015 to complement their existing provision. The OFSTED inspectors acknowledged that the leadership team “had maintained the outstanding quality of education in the school despite the challenges faced.”

Principal, Andrew Hodkinson said “I am proud and very pleased with the outcome as it accurately reflects the consistent, daily hard work undertaken by all staff and those associated with the school. The highly skilled staff team works very effectively to match individual pupil need closely with provision and our pupils continue to make excellent progress and enjoy school.”

Andrew Hodkinson also paid tribute to the leadership group and the governing body but particularly Sue Towers, Vice-Principal/Head of School (Boston Spa) and Keeley Murray, Head of School at Woodhouse Learning for the clarity of purpose they brought to the role of leadership at West Oaks.

“It is very much a team effort” he stated.

Sue Towers stated that she “was delighted that the inspection team were able to identify the excellent practice in our organisation so readily. An inspection is just part of our day job but helps us to highlight the hard work, care and commitment given by all our staff …every day, every hour… towards ensuring our pupils are reaching their full potential. This outcome is a great validation of the team around our pupils, from home to school”.

Keeley Murray, Head of woodhouse Learning added “It’s a real pleasure to be part of West Oaks, I am very proud of the fantastic work that happens here on a daily basis and I am thrilled with the outcome for all involved with the school. I am particularly pleased that the excellent practice and high quality provision was recognised and praised at Woodhouse Learning, less than 2 years after opening, this is a great achievement for all!”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said: “To be judged ‘Outstanding’ once by Ofsted is a stunning achievement, but to receive that judgement three times is absolutely fantastic.

“We are delighted for all the staff, governors, students and parents at West Oaks as this is so well deserved and a very fitting acknowledgement of all their hard work and commitment to supporting the children and young people in their care to fulfil their potentials. They should be very proud, as we are, of what they have achieved.”

In their letter, OFSTED inspectors drew attention to 16+ provision as a strength, through the well-established “WeCanDoCo” enterprise initiative and the pioneering work the school have undertaken with LCC Library service. There was a recognition that pupils’ life choices were greatly enhanced as a result of these initiatives.

In addition:

The “well-run and high quality early years provision” at Woodhouse was singled out for praise as the provision “ensures children make an excellent start in an environment where their complex needs are well understood”.

Parents and carers rated the school highly and were almost unanimous in their view that the school offers their children an excellent standard of education.

Safeguarding is effective and given a very high priority within the school and is the golden thread which is woven into all that West Oaks do.

Leadership, Governance and the staff team were praised for working exceptionally closely. Noting that the school is aware of their strengths and weaknesses and this was apparent right from the outset of the inspection.

The Governors led by Chair of Governors, Margaret Burgess are supportive but are also not afraid to challenge the leaders and seek further improvements.

West Oaks staff and pupils are now planning and looking forward to celebrating the school’s 40th Anniversary in September 2017. It will also continue to increase its pupil population to 285 pupils by September 2018 and will be recruiting more staff to join its highly skilled teams. Amongst many other initiatives, creating a vibrant and purposeful 16+ College is next in their sights.

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