Chapel Road School loses “outstanding” rating as expansion plans “detract” from leaders’ rigorous analysis

Headteacher Karin Heap said she was disappointed by Ofsted's verdict on Chapel Road School. Photo: B

Headteacher Karin Heap said she was disappointed by Ofsted's verdict on Chapel Road School. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

A school for children with special educational needs or disabilities has lost its 'outstanding' rating after a report said its planned expansion on a larger site detracted from its leaders' rigorous analysis.

Chapel Road School, in Attleborough, was rated 'requires improvement' following its Ofsted inspection on November 26-27, although the inspectors said the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils was 'good'.

Headteacher Karin Heap said she was 'disappointed' by the verdict, which leaves it as Norfolk's only special school not rated 'good' or better, but noted the report included a number of positives.

The school, which currently has 61 pupils, is due to double in size when it moves into a new £11.8m new building in Old Buckenham in summer 2017.

The report, due to be published today, said: 'Leaders are experienced and knowledgeable; they have carefully extended the leadership team to manage the move to the new building and the larger school roll. In some respects, this has detracted from the rigour of their analysis so that some key aspects of the school's provision have not remained outstanding.'

The report also said not all pupils make the progress they should, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment varies too much, and teachers' expectations of pupils are not always high enough.

However, it also said: 'The headteacher and senior leaders have very effectively established a positive ethos throughout the school. The care and welfare of pupils is a key priority for all staff.'

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It also praised the school's work to prepare children for life after school, citing its charity shop on Attleborough High Street, which it said 'enables them to develop important life skills'.

Chair of governors Terry Hickman Smith said: 'We have a new cohort of more able students who have different learning needs.

'The inspection outcome confirms the urgency for a new site to enable the school to further enhance the curriculum and teaching to meet pupils' needs.'

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman supported the school, saying that to him, and parents he had met, 'what Chapel Road School achieves is outstanding'.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk