The South Downs School

Name The South Downs School
Ofsted Inspections
Address Beechy Avenue, Eastbourne, BN20 8NU
Phone Number 01323730302
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 4-11
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 158 (71.5% boys 28.5% girls)
Academy Sponsor The Southfield Trust
Local Authority East Sussex
Percentage Free School Meals 35.7%
Percentage English is Not First Language 6.3%
Persistent Absence 19.3%
Pupils with SEN Support 11.4%%
Catchment Area Indicator Available No
Last Distance Offered Available No
Highlights from Latest Inspection

Information about this school

The school provides for pupils who have autistic spectrum conditions, communication and associated learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Many also have complex learning difficulties, which include those with moderate, complex, severe, profound or multiple needs. A small minority has a medical treatment protocol in place.

The school is on two sites some four miles apart. Early Years Foundation Stage provision is at the West site and primary-aged pupils are based at the East site. There are specialist classes for pupils on the autistic spectrum.

The school has an outreach service working with 32 mainstream schools. This supports the needs of learners with speech, language and communication difficulties in mainstream schools. Currently, the large majority of pupils are boys.

Most are of White British backgrounds. A few are from mixed backgrounds and a very few are of Black or Black British backgrounds. A few are from homes where English is not the home language.

All pupils have a statement of special educational needs; although, at different times during the year, some will be assessed for a statement. The proportion of pupils at the school eligible for the pupil premium, which provides additional government funding to support those known to be eligible for free school meals and children in local authority care, is above the national average. Currently, there are very few students in local authority care.

Pupils new to the school are usually admitted in September, but there are also admissions and departures throughout the year, including a few who transfer to mainstream schools. Pupils travel from a very large catchment area, some spending over two hours travelling by taxi each day. The school is part of a hard federation with a secondary special school in Eastbourne.

Both schools share the same governing body and the executive headteacher of South Downs.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. The school provides a happy, caring and stimulating learning environment where pupils achieve outstandingly well.

They are prepared very well for the next stage of their education. Pupils make excellent progress from their starting points to the end of Key Stage 2, particularly in literacy and numeracy, as well as in their communication skills. Children attending the Early Years Foundation Stage make outstanding progress.

They are prepared particularly well for learning. This eases their transition to the next stage of their education at the school. South Downs School is an orderly establishment, where high standards, hard work and sensible behaviour are the expected norm.

This results in a very safe and happy environment. Pupils themselves say the school is a very safe place to be. Pupils’ behaviour in and around the school is excellent.

Their attitudes to learning are outstanding because of interesting learning and the high level of quality support the pupils receive from all adults in the room. The executive headteacher’s leadership and vision for the school underpin the high quality teamwork evident throughout. All staff are committed to making sure pupils achieve the best outcomes possible.

The school’s outreach service is valued highly by the schools it supports. The highly experienced Chair of the Governing Body and her governors know the school really well. They are highly effective in holding the school to account, checking pupils’ achievements and progress, as well as the quality of teaching.