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Silverbank shines during Ofsted inspection

Date: 20/03/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

Media invite: Wednesday, 26 March. 2.15pm. Silverbank Centre, Churchill Avenue, Chatham. “Doing a very difficult job well.” That’s the feeling of one parent whose child attends the Silverbank Centre pupil referral unit in Chatham. Osfted inspectors have told pupils, parents and staff that the school provides a good quality education, which has improved greatly since the last inspection in November 2004. The Silverbank Centre provides education for 86 pupils aged 11 to 16 who, for a variety of reasons, are currently not attending either mainstream or special schools. Most pupils are placed at the centre because they have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion from mainstream schools. All the pupils are identified as having learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and more than half have statements of special educational needs. Permanently excluded pupils make good progress both in their studies and in their behaviour and attitudes. The centre is successful in nearly all cases in re-integrating these pupils back into mainstream or special schools. The strong and clear leadership of headteacher Deborah Braithwaite was noted for the school’s chance in success, particularly in helping pupils achieve in further education and work placements. Inspector Tim Feast said: “The headteacher provides a very good role model for centre leaders. She has established a clear vision for the role of the centre since the last inspection, which is shared by all staff. Staff are focused strongly on developing pupils’ personal and academic strengths so that all groups are prepared well for a return to mainstream schooling or to education and work beyond school.” Pupils often come to the centre with low self-esteem but the staff are successful in raising this through good care and support. Pupils’ interest is also engaged by a good and exciting curriculum that is broad, relevant and taught well. As a result, pupils acquire new skills and knowledge quickly and demonstrate their successes through an extensive range of accredited courses. Whilst at the centre, nearly all pupils regain their enthusiasm for learning because each individual’s programme is tailored to meet their specific needs. One pupil said: ‘It helps you to control your inner self and anger’ and ‘makes you not be so argumentative.’ Inspectors also noted the school’s ‘outstanding’ partnership work with agencies such as the Education Welfare Service to encourage regular attendance and promote pupils’ learning. Pupils’ good moral and social development is demonstrated by the positive way they behave and work together. Headteacher Deborah Braithwaite praised her staff for the good report. She said: “I am very pleased that the hard work and commitment of all staff has been recognised by Ofsted. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the parents and carers for their continued support.” Medway Council’s Director of Children’s Services Rose Collinson said: “I’m delighted that the Ofsted team rightly recognised the quality of leadership and commitment at Silverbank to support vulnerable young people. “Students at Silverbank are very well supported to be positive about themselves, their learning and their future.” Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Les Wicks extended the praise. He added: “Everyone at Silverbank should feel incredibly proud of this glowing report.”