Walsall school slammed for ‘muddled’ curriculum leaving pupil's ‘ill-equipped for life'

An independent specialist school has got the lowest possible grade from Ofsted.

West Midlands Education & Skills, Blue Lane, Walsall
West Midlands Education & Skills, Blue Lane, Walsall

Inspectors said that the West Midlands Education and Skills in Walsall had a curriculum which was ‘muddled’ and left pupils ‘ill-equipped for life in modern Britain’.

The school offers specialist provision for students aged 11-19, often dealing with students who have faced difficulties in mainstream education.

The school, which was founded 35 years ago and had previously rated ‘good’ in its 2020 inspection, has now been given a long list of improvements to make.

The latest Ofsted report, undertaken in February, said that leaders at the school only offer a small range of subjects.

Ian Tustian, lead inspector said: “Most pupils are educated one to one by tutors at settings in the community.

“They learn in a range of local venues, public spaces and cafes. Leaders have set the school up in this way to help pupils engage with their education.

“However, leaders offer pupils a limited range and depth of subjects. For instance, pupils do not study science, geography or history beyond entry-level.

“For sixth-form students, some tutors do not have the expertise to teach at a higher level. The curriculum lacks ambition.

“They then try and ‘plug the gaps’ rather than helping pupils develop the knowledge and skills they need. This means that pupils’ knowledge does not build cumulatively.

“As a result, pupils learn isolated concepts and ideas. This does not prepare pupils for future study, employment or training. They are ill-equipped for life in modern Britain.”

The report did praise the ability of the staff to create positive relationships with the students as well as ensure their safety.

It added:  “Tutors are adept at keeping pupils safe. They have had extensive training and know the signs that a pupil may be at risk.

“Tutors develop positive relationships with pupils. Pupils appreciate their efforts and work well with them. They treat tutors with respect and are usually willing to engage with their learning."

West Midlands Education and Skills were asked to comment on the report but did not reply.

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