'Rapid improvements' hailed at Dudley school
A pupil referral unit in Dudley that deals with some of the hardest to help youngsters has been hailed for making "rapid improvements" in its latest Ofsted inspection.
Sycamore Short Stay School was graded 'good' across the board, with inspectors saying pupil conduct and self-discipline were "strengths" and praising teaching and learning.
The Dudley Council-run school caters for 27 pupils aged 5-14, all of whom have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools.
Inspectors visited the school's Old Park Farm estate site in October. In their report they gave the four key areas of leadership and management, teaching and learning, behaviour and pupil outcomes 'good' ratings.
The school was previously inspected in September 2016 and was told it 'requires improvement'.
In her report lead inspector Lesley Yates said that "committed leadership and decisive action" by headteacher Steve Derham had resulted in "rapid improvements" since the previous inspection.
Staff and governors were said to have "high ambitions" for pupils, while teachers and teaching assistants were praised for "working well together to plan activities that meet pupils needs effectively".
Pupil behaviour was "good", the report said, with inspectors noting "little disruption" to learning. "Pupils enjoy school and take pride in their work," it added.
Safeguarding was said to be a strength, while pupils and staff had built up "strong" relationships based on "mutual respect".
Inspectors also noted good progress in English and maths, and concluded that most pupils successfully progress to either mainstream or specialist schools appropriate to their needs.
A lack of specialist facilities in science was said to limit pupil progress, while attendance was rated as "well below the national average but steadily improving".
Mr Derham said: "Since our last inspection we have come a long way, through a clear vision and high expectations for pupils and staff.
"As a result we have managed to raise the standards and expectations, which has made a real impact.
"Our focus is on teaching and learning rather than behaviour.
"A lot of PRUs nationally are getting negative publicity, but I hope in Dudley it is recognised that pupils who attend a short stay school can be successful learners.
"Thanks to the efforts of staff, parents, carers, the council, the school's management committee and other agencies, the school is a very strong 'good' and in position to improve standards even further.
"There are always areas for improvement, and the actions Ofsted identified are already being addressed."