Director of Young People’s Services, Nathan Singleton said,
I have always believed that the best place for the vast majority of young people to learn is in mainstream school. Where that is not possible, young people need high quality alternative provision (AP) that urges them forward. I am pleased that Ofsted have recognised that SW!TCH Expeditions achieves this.
Over the last year we have taken a decision to simply do what is right for the students. I understand how tempting it could be to ‘put on a show’ for Ofsted. But this result is a testament to the hard work of the staff and results from the principle-based decisions we have taken.
As we now move towards becoming an outstanding provision for the students in our care, we have to make sure that we continue in this vein, focusing on the students, not Ofsted. We are committed to becoming an AP free school that caters for larger numbers of students who will benefit from our tailored, unique approach.
There was a lot riding on this inspection as a ‘good’ grading was required to be able to set up an AP free school. But we were determined – not to put on a show – but to show the inspector what daily life is really like for these students and their teaching staff.
During the inspection we had to make a significant safeguarding referral. When the consequences of the referral became evident to the student, they became very upset and irate, storming out of the building.
Instead of hiding it, I chose to actively draw the Inspector’s attention to it to enable him to understand our pupil profile and to demonstrate the ability of our staff to support the students. I wanted the Inspector to see that the importance of what we do isn’t just in academic achievement, but also in shaping character in the students so they can deal with life’s storms.
Inevitably, the next lesson was disrupted; I’d pre-warned the inspector about this too. I actually stopped the conversation with the inspector so I could hear what was going on. I wasn’t disappointed. My staff dealt with the disruption very skilfully and effectively.
Following the inspection, I had the opportunity to meet with the student involved in the safeguarding disclosure. I took the opportunity to give them a tour through our offices, demonstrating that I valued them as I introduced them to all of the staff. I also talked about the importance of forgiveness. The student responded positively, understanding the concept, why it was important and how it wasn’t just simply letting someone off the hook, but that choosing to forgive would benefit the forgiver personally. A major light bulb moment!