The school was last inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectors in December 2019. South Molton Community College was awarded Good.
Our last Ofsted Report: ‘The behaviour of pupils is good. They show very positive attitudes to learning. Pupils’ conduct around the school is particularly impressive’
FULL REPORT: 50143207 (ofsted.gov.uk)
Inspection dates: 10–11 December 2019
Outcome: South Molton Community College continues to be a good school.
What is it like to attend this school?
The principal has a clear vision for this school. He wants pupils to try new things with a positive attitude. He encourages pupils to think: ‘I can do it, just not yet.’ The school’s motto of ‘be ready, be resilient, be respectful’ reflects this attitude. A committed, enthusiastic staff team provides good support to the principal.
Pupils are very well behaved, respectful and keen to learn. In lessons, pupils are attentive. Teachers know the pupils well. This means that pupils get the support they need. Pupils say they feel safe and know that there are staff who will listen to them if they have any concerns. If bullying happens, staff deal with it quickly.
Parents and carers value the quality of care their children receive. One parent spoke for many in saying: ‘Staff respond to the children with grace and respect. Staff are caring and kind across the board from caretakers to kitchen staff, receptionists to the principal.’
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The quality of education remains good. Leaders have established a curriculum that is well thought out. It provides pupils with the skills and knowledge they need to become productive members of the local community. It encourages them to be aspirational about their futures. Leaders ensure that curriculum plans show what pupils need to learn. Some subject plans are more detailed than others. Where plans are clear and precise, for example in English and geography, pupils know, understand and remember more. In a small minority of subjects, plans are not well written. In these subjects, pupils are not consistently able to make connections in what they learn.
A key strength of the school is how well staff know individual pupils. The school has a strong ethos of respect and tolerance. Pupils are clear about the need to treat everyone equally. High levels of appreciation of others are evident across the school. Pupils want to learn, and they work hard in lessons. Staff have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour, and low-level disruption is rare. Teachers establish clear routines in lessons. This, combined with well-planned lessons, results in excellent behaviour in class.
The number of pupils undertaking the English Baccalaureate qualification is below the national average. This is largely due to low take-up of modern foreign languages in key stage 4. Leaders are aware of the need to improve the curriculum in this department at key stage 3. Currently, pupils do not have enough confidence to choose languages as an option in key stage 4.
Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) do well. Most teachers plan appropriate learning experiences to support them effectively. Staff use the personalised plans for pupils with SEND to make sure that the curriculum meets their needs.
Provision for pupils’ personal development is effective. Personal, social and health education (PSHE) has a high priority in the school. Pupils learn about PSHE through timetabled lessons, registration periods and assemblies. This helps pupils to take a responsible interest in the world around them. Pastoral support for pupils is effective.
A member of staff has a dedicated role to support pupils’ mental health. Pupils say that staff cater for their mental health well.
Leaders and governors know the school’s strengths and weaknesses. The school’s governors work alongside leaders to offer appropriate support and challenge. School leaders are highly visible around the school. They know the pupils and staff individually.
Staff are highly motivated and report that they like working at the school. They say they feel valued and that leaders work with them to ensure that their workload is manageable.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
The training of staff and governors in safeguarding policies and procedures is comprehensive. Leaders make sure that all staff refresh their training regularly. Training enables staff to recognise the signs and symptoms of abuse and to identify a child at risk.
Staff are fully aware of their responsibilities and take them very seriously. As a result, there is a strong culture of safeguarding.
School leaders work effectively with parents, carers and external agencies.
Leaders provide effective early help to pupils and families to prevent problems from escalating. They work closely with outside agencies by raising any child protection issues swiftly.
What does the school need to do to improve?
In a small number of subjects, the curriculum is not planned well enough. In these subjects, there is no clear sequence to learning. There is also a lack of precision about the knowledge and key concepts that teachers want pupils to gain. Where this is the case, pupils find it hard to connect their learning. This prevents them from building on what they already know. Leaders need to share strong practice in other subjects so that there is a consistently effective curriculum across all subjects