Ofsted says South Tyneside pupil referral unit requires improvement as rating downgraded

A new-in-post South Tyneside headteacher has been praised by Ofsted for strengthening her specialist school but more improvements are needed

Ofsted said Katherine Walton had developed a broad and balanced curriculum at The Beacon Centre, in South Shields, a 98-space pupil referral unit for children with complex behavioural needs.

In its latest report, it found learners in the primary section were making good progress due to well-structured learning, high expectations and an improving environment.

Inspectors also confirmed all pupils moved into further education, training or employment upon leaving the Temple Park Road school.

And they accepted improvements identified in a short inspection in October had been hampered by funding difficulties and a yet-to-be completed staff restructuring.


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Lastly, Ofsted noted the school had properly used additional funding to support disadvantaged pupils.

But Ms Walton, who took over as head last September, was told improvement had yet to happen in secondary provision, meaning pupils were not receiving a consistently good standard of education.

The quality of teaching was criticised as being ‘variable’ and they also said too few teachers were ensuring pupils improved their work, and highlighted the significant number of temporary staff in place.

And Ofsted identified poor behaviour among some pupils.


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It led the inspectorate to downgrade the school from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

Headteacher Katherine Walton said: “We are pleased with some of the positive findings of the report such as the recognition by inspectors that the school offers a broad and balanced curriculum which plays to pupils’ strengths and that the leadership and management of the school have the capacity for positive change.

“They also found significant improvement in the primary phase of the school, additional funding was well used to support disadvantaged children and praised the fact that all pupils leave the school with a place in further education, training or employment.

“However, we accept the inspectors’ findings that there are areas for improvement and we are already working on an action plan to address these concerns.


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“The entire school community is committed to working with pupils, parents and the Local Authority to drive up standards and levels of attendance so that pupils receive the best possible education.”

Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families at South Tyneside Council, said: "We are committed to improving those areas raised."