New Acorn Education and Care team takes the school’s two residential homes based in Rutland from Requires Improvement to Outstanding in just 18 months
The Grange Therapeutic School, Rutland, Leicestershire – an independent residential special school for students who have social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs or high functioning autism – rated Good by Ofsted in its ‘education’ inspection, has just been ranked Outstanding in its Ofsted inspection for ‘residential care’ provision1. Ofsted Inspectors praised its new team – who took residential care provision from Requires Improvement to Outstanding in just 18 months – for “the highly effective services it delivers and its actions that contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people.”
Charlotte Niekerk, Head of Care at The Grange, who was appointed in 2020, was also praised as a highly competent leader responsible for “the rapid and marked improvement of the residential provision since the last Ofsted inspection.” The Inspectors said, “The residential provision’s leadership team is inspirational, confident and ambitious for children in their care. Meticulous management systems are in place which provide good analysis of the impact of the care provision and the progression of each child. This ensures that all children are supported to achieve the best outcomes.”
The Grange was rated Outstanding for the overall experience and progress of children, how well children are helped and protected, and the effectiveness of the school’s leaders and managers.
Inspectors reported that, “Strong, stable and trusting relationships mean that children thrive in the residential provision and are extremely positive about the care they receive.” One child quoted in the report said, “The staff have been fantastic. The team leader is amazing. No matter what I needed it would get done, they have always been there for me.” Another child said, “The amount of support I get is unreal.”
The Inspectors went on to say, “Staff help children to regulate their emotions so that they learn to interact well with others. Behaviour management strategies are well thought through and ensure that children receive consistent responses from school and care staff. As children’s behaviour improves, they make significant progress at school. They are able to focus on learning and have fewer incidents. Children who were not engaged in education prior to attending the school are now fully engaged.”
They were also impressed by the quality of the relationships between staff and children, stating that they enable clear routines and boundaries to be set, which in turn helps the children to feel safe and secure. They commented, “Staff support children to understand risks at school, at home, in the community and online and a ‘no question too silly’ box in the house enables staff to respond to questions through shared group discussions and peer group learning. Innovative training has helped staff to have a better understanding of safeguarding and child protection and the Head of Care [Charlotte Niekerk] has delivered good-quality training for staff about safeguarding processes.
“Governance and external monitoring are also strong and the School Governors’ oversight ensures a high degree of scrutiny and high quality of care provided to children. The Chair of Governors works closely with the Head of Care, empowering her to improve the service. Managers have made a determined effort to improve the skills and knowledge of care staff and have provided staff with extensive training. As a result, staff are highly skilled practitioners who are empathetic and nurturing.”
Commenting on the school’s new Ofsted grading, Charlotte Niekerk, Head of Care said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have been evaluated Outstanding by Ofsted – the highest possible rating – and I would like to thank my team for their exceptional work and students for their lovely positive comments about life at the school.”
- Ofsted conducted the inspection in July 2021 but have only recently published the report until after the summer break when the school reopened in September.