February 23, 2024

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Improvements at Powys special school after Estyn inspection

2 min read

School inspectors Estyn raised issues last year with the quality of education provided at Summergil House, as well as a failure to comply with regulations concerning the welfare, and health and safety of its pupils.

Summergil House is an independent special school situated in Womaston, between Walton and Presteigne, which cares for around 20 children with complex needs associated with autism.

Owned by Orbis Education and Care, the school cares for 20 pupils, aged five to 19, who of whom half are day pupils, and the rest live on site.

The school had received glowing reports from Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) since opening its new facility in 2017 – but a March 2022 inspection by Estyn found it was not complying fully with the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003.

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Issues were raised with the school’s quality of education, the welfare, health and safety of the pupils, and the suitability of the premises and accommodation.

But after a follow-up visit, the school has been praised for improving the quality and consistency of planning and assessment.

Dyfrig Ellis, Estyn’s assistant director, said: “Teaching staff now show a good understanding of the aptitudes, needs and prior attainment of the pupils and take these into account when planning lessons.

“Classroom resources have been improved and additional space is now available for teaching which is used effectively. The school has strengthened the policies relating to safeguarding, including having a robust traffic management policy and guidance for staff on the use of mobile phones.

“In addition, the school accurately records attendance and punctuality and has a clear rationale for engaging pupils in their learning.

“As a result, the school is judged to have met the requirements for standards 1,3 and 5 of the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003.”

Lucy Pottinger, director of education for Orbis, said: “Following some disappointing comments in the 2022 inspection report for our school at Summergil House, we have worked hard to ensure that the issues raised have been resolved and that our education standards are once again as high as ever.

“At Summergil House, we offer a bright, warm and stimulating place for learning, for children with complex learning needs, and it is our priority to ensure that all the young people we teach are engaged, progressing and, above all, enjoying their education with us as they move towards a more independent life beyond school.

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“We are very proud of the high standards of education we offer at Summergil House, as well as our team of positive and creative teaching professionals who work alongside the pupils every day.”

Estyn made a number of recommendations including compliance with the 2003 regulations, changes to the registration of the school to cover the temporary use of additional teaching space, planning for literacy teaching, and numeracy and digital skills.

It alo offered recommendations around the size and number of classrooms and arrangements for governance focusing on school improvement and improving the quality of teaching.

To read the original report and see the outcome of the follow-up visit, click


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