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Ofsted Residential Care Reports

Latest Inspection report - November 2023

Judged Ofsted 'Outstanding'

Highlights from the report:

  • The residential provision has a profound impact on the lives of children and their families.
  • Children feel valued and speak very positively about their residential experiences.
  • Parents are extremely complimentary about the residential provision and refer to the support provided as a ‘lifeline’. They say that "children make excellent progress because of the actions of the staff who work with them and their experiences while staying there."
  • One parent said that "the provision gives their child a chance to experience a different aspect of life, to develop their social skills and make friends." Children’s life opportunities are enhanced because of their extended day and overnight stays at the house.
  • Children’s views and feelings are a priority. They are threaded through their care and support plans.
  • The opportunities for children to develop their independence skills are worthy of wider dissemination. 
  • As part of promoting their independence, the staff team Inspection report for residential special school - West Kirby School and College 3 supports children to take safe risks to develop their resilience and to prepare them for adulthood.
  • Provision of activities on and off the school site is excellent. There are lots of opportunities for children to take part in, including fundraising and charity work. Activities are child-led and in line with their interests and hobbies.
  • Safeguarding is of paramount importance in this school. 
  • The safety and well-being of children is a central ethos of the residential provision. Children confirm they feel safe and have a strong sense of security.
  • One parent said that the best thing the residential provision offers to children is how it helps them feel safe, secure and understood.
  • The management of children’s behaviour is exceptional.
  • Children enjoy a harmonious experience at the provision.
  • Team leaders have an exceptional understanding of the children and their needs. They have high aspirations for the children
  • There is a stable and experienced staff team in place.


February 2023

Please find below the full report from our latest Residential inspection 

Highlights from the report are:

  • Children enjoy their experiences at the residential provision.
  • They build secure and trusting relationships with the staff. 
  • Additionally, the staff team has positive relationships with parents
  • Children access various recreational and leisure activities, according to their interests or hobbies. They also play an active part in the community
  • Children make good progress because of the time that they spend in the residential provision. Parents saidthat their children have developed their independence skills and improved their social skills.
  • Children are involved in the life skills enterprise, and they have worked on the school’senterprise market stall and the school bakery. Children have also been involved in charity work. 
  • The staff team works hard to promote children’s well-being. Staff use their positive and nurturing relationships with children to help them build resilience and to develop their confidence. 
  • Children enjoy their education. They are supported to aspire and make plans for their future.
  • Children are listened to, and their views prioritised. Children have been part of the school’s council. childrenHeading 3 to make suggestions to improve their experiences.
  • Children are treated with dignity and respect. They benefit from experiencing an environment in which their individual needs, disabilities and identities are fully accepted. 
  • Older children can experience living semi-independently in an attached self-contained flat. This enables children to practise key skills such as budgeting, cooking and travel before they leave the service.
  • Children and their parents say that children feel safe and are kept safe during their stay at the residential provision.
  • Leaders and managers are proactive in their response to safeguarding within the residential service.
  • Safer recruitment is robust.
  • The head of care and the residential manager work collaboratively and have a shared vision for the residential provision.
  • Staff have undertaken a wide range of training to meet the needs of children.


Inspection report June 2021


Please find below the Residential inspection report - June 2021.

Ofsted Residential report June 2021 highlights:

Overall experiences and progress: Good

  • Residential children benefit from having their individual needs recognised. Plans, strategies and targets are shared between departments within the school, providing children with a consistency of care that links to their school day. Monitoring undertaken by the school clearly evidences the positive impact that residency has on pupils’ lives, particularly with their behaviour, communication and social skills.
  • All children who experience the residential provision receive a good quality of care. An experienced, dedicated residential staff team cares for them well.
  • The relationships created between staff, children and parents are strong, which promotes trust.
  • One parent told the inspector, ‘The staff are always available, and I can talk to them about any concerns that I may have or just for a general chat.’ Another said about staff, ‘They go that extra mile when supporting the children and their families.’
  • Children enjoy the residential experience and look forward to the time that they spend there.
  • A parent said, ‘What he has achieved over the last year was thought impossible a year ago.’ 
  • Another child told the inspector, ‘I am quite new to the residential home, but so far it has been brilliant.’
  • Residential staff contribute to multidisciplinary meetings and discussions about children. This means that children experience consistent support that meets their needs, as staff carefully assess their starting points, support their development and respond to any difficulties.
  • Residential children along with day pupils have a strong voice within the school due to the excellent levels of communication and consultation that exists.
  • An outstanding feature is how the school remained in contact with children throughout the COVID-19 restrictions. Also, some children helped to record the sessions, interviewed teachers and showed their work to the wider audience.
  • Residential children benefit from experiencing an environment in which individual needs, disabilities and identities are fully accepted.
  • Activities are well planned and designed to meet the children’s needs. Full use of community facilities plays a prominent role in the activities taking place.
  • Activities promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle as well as providing enjoyment. The development of social skills and social networks improve children’s awareness of what local communities have to offer, as well as promoting greater independence.
  • Activities for children is an area of strength.
  • There have been some recent changes in the overall residential accommodation for the children. This is of an exceptional standard. The accommodation provided for children is spacious, comfortable and well maintained. 
  • An outstanding area within the residential setting is how children are prepared for their independence. Targets are set and monitored, and these are adapted in accordance with the child’s progress. Transition plans show how semi-independence places and colleges have been identified and the visits that have been completed.
  • Children learn to travel independently, budget for food, pay bills and to have enough money to socialise. Parents say that they are fully included in the plans and that residential staff make a difference in helping children plan for their futures. 

How well children and young people are helped and protected: Good

  • Safety is prioritised and promoted well. 
  • Safety is prioritised and promoted well. As a result, children feel safe and valued.
  • Staff balance risks with the need to allow children freedom to develop independence skills.
  • Behaviour management is well managed and monitored throughout the school. Good behaviour support plans are individual to each child. The plans work alongside school staff to help them understand the individual needs and requirements of children. This joint working promotes a greater consistency of care. As a result, the children’s behaviour is very good.

The effectiveness of leaders and managers: Good

  • The principal of the school is also the head of care. There is a manager of the residential setting and a well-qualified, experienced and long-standing staff team. They work closely together so that there is a seamless transition between school and the residential provision. All parties demonstrated that the children were at the heart of the service.
  • The head of care is well respected by her colleagues, parents and professionals. Without exception, all comment positively on her knowledge and professionalism. She understands the children well and promotes close working partnerships to ensure that the whole school and families work together. This provides the best possible, all-round support for children to thrive.
  • Governors support new initiatives to improve children’s lives
  • The residential provision remains an integral part of the services provided by the school.


Previous Ofsted reports and feedback comments

October 2020 - Ofsted assurance visit 

Please find below our Ofsted care visit report. Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), an ‘assurance visit’ is the current name for an Ofsted visit, carried out under the social care common inspection framework (SCCIF). 

Care of the children

  • Children learn and socialise in a tolerant and cooperative community where positive and affectionate relationships help them to thrive.
  • Children say that their progress at school is made possible because of the support from residential staff.
  • Parents say that their children enjoy school, and really look forward to staying in the residence because they have fun, make friends and learn so much about living in society.
  • Children and their families enthusiastically work together with staff to understand and limit the impact of any barriers to their success.
  • Staff use a cohesive, multi-disciplinary approach to supporting pupils. This builds a foundation of strong, child centred intervention, education and guidance. This is a strength of the school.
  • Staff listen well to children’s dreams and aspirations.
  • Children receive consistent support because residential, education and health staff work from a shared but appropriately differentiated care and education plan. This helps residential pupils to make good progress against the goals of their education, health and care plans.
  • Children experience high levels of pastoral care.
  • Children learn about how to keep safe and healthy during the pandemic. This helps your pupil to manage the anxiety he feels about the risk of infection, so that he can enjoy being able to socialise after a long period of being isolated at home.
  • Children say that staff are great at helping them to plan for their lives after school.
  • Weekly online assemblies are a source of joy and support to children and families. Many testimonies to the positive impact of this include parents who said this was a lifeline.
  • Staff recognise, foster and facilitate each child’s unique personality, skills and aspirations.

The safety of children

  • Staff promote positive choice and emotional regulation, and respond effectively to any difficulties and setbacks.
  • Positive behaviour support underpins the whole school approach to supporting children who have complex needs.
  • Highly effective safeguarding and child protection measures and systems mean that staff are alert to children’s behaviour and conversation as an indicator that all is not well.

Leaders and managers

  • Capable, energetic and enthusiastic leaders are driving positive change and development of the residential provision.
  • Leaders have children’s well-being and safety at the centre of all they do.
  • The principal is promoting a culture of compassion and nurture. Staff describe her as child-centred, accessible, aspirational and inspirational.
  • Staff say the principal’s leadership is building an open and cooperative culture where all are equally valued.
  • Leaders recruit governors and advisers with key specialisms such as safeguarding or residential care.

November 2019 Residential Care inspection

Our November 2019 Residential Care inspection was judged as 'Requires Improvement to be good

Feedback we're proud of:

Child summary comments:

  • I like your bedrooms and the way you can choose how they look. 
  • You all told me that staff make you happy and that you like all the staff.
  • You all feel safe and comfortable. You get to take part in activities that you like. It was great to hear these things. They made me smile.
  • You also told me of the things that you have learned while staying at school. You have all done some great things that will help you to enjoy life more.
  • Staff do a great job looking after you. 
  • Your families say that they they like the help that you get at school because it is good help. I agree with them.

Report feedback

  • Young people are happy at school and make confident progress in their communication skills, social skills and understanding of the world. This is because they are supported well by residential staff who care about them. The staff build positive relationships with them and help them feel safe
  • The young people's views are well represented in the control that they have over their lives. They have to plan their targets and think about their futures
  • The staff have a good understanding of how young people are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Young people enthusiastically described the progress that they have made because of their residential experience
  • Parents said that their children have improved their independence, well-being and sociability. 
  • Young people enjoy friendships in the residence, because staff help them appreciate the wishes and feelings of others. 
  • Young people use community-based activity to improve their understanding and experience of the world.
  • Young people have regular sessions with their keyworkers that help them learn about a wide range of topics.
  • The senior leadership team, including the board of directors, has undergone significant change this year. The new principal is taking immediate action to improve matters.
  • Young people are the focus of staff activity and attention. 
  • An area of strength is how young people are supported  to understand and manage the impact of Autism Spectrum Disorders on their emotional, social and learning capacity.

February 2019 Residential Care inspection

Our February 2019 Residential Care inspection report was judged as 'Good' across all areas. 

Feedback we're proud of:

  • Young people are happy at school and make confident progress in their communication skills, social skills and understanding of the world. This is because they are supported well by residential staff who care about them. The staff build positive relationships with them and help them to feel safe
  • The young people’s views are well represented in the control that they have over their lives. They help to plan their targets and think about their futures
  • The staff have a good understanding of how young people are affected by autism spectrum disorders. The school uses a national accredited approach to work with young people with autism spectrum disorders more effectively
  • Young people enthusiastically described the progress that they have made because of their residential experience
  • Parents said that their children have improved their independence, well-being and sociability. They say that staff keep in touch regularly and that this open approach gives them confidence and trust in the staff to keep their children safe and happy
  • Young people enjoy friendships in the residence, because staff help them to appreciate the wishes and feelings of others
  • Young people use community-based activity to improve their understanding and experience of the world. They have fun and develop new skills that enhance their quality of life
  • Staff sensitively help young people to manage change. Young people are involved in decisions about their futures
  • They have lots of opportunities to develop independence skills, and this is something that they value. For example, they shop and cook, follow domestic routines and increase their confidence in the local community, including independent travel from the residence to school
  • Staff are sensitive to any ups and downs that young people experience. By seeking and offering the right help, staff promote young people’s choices, well-being and confidence as they develop into young adults
  • Care staff continue to provide good-quality care to young people. They are supported within a clear team structure. They are appropriately qualified. New staff enrol promptly for a residential care qualification and have a structured induction that includes autism-specific training

2018 Residential Care inspection

Our 2018 Residential Care inspection report was judged as 'Requires improvement'. 

Ofsted say our strengths are:

  • Education and care staff work well together to ensure that residential pupils have consistency between school and the residential provision
  • Residential pupils are supported by a well-resourced and efficient therapy service which supports young people in their progress
  • Residential pupils are supported to develop independence skills which will help prepare them for adulthood
  • Behaviour management practices are robust and effective
  • Staff receive a good level of support and training to ensure that they can meet the needs of the residential pupils they are looking after

Other positive comments made we're proud of are:

"Residential pupils are making good progress in their education. This is because education and care staff work well together to ensure consistency for residential pupils between the residential provision and school. Care staff support residential pupils at school during the day and some school staff support the care staff in the residential provision. There are daily morning meetings at which residential pupils are discussed. As a result, residential pupils make good progress in their education. Some are going on to college and university and school data shows that residential pupils make progress academically. They demonstrate the positive impact that living at the school has on residential pupils’ progress."

"The school has speech and language therapists on site and they work effectively with care staff to ensure that residential pupils can actively participate in decisions about their lives. Staff use picture exchange communication systems and social stories with residential pupils to aid their understanding of situations and behaviour. There is good evidence that the speech and language team support care staff through training to use these methods effectively. Overall, the school is well resourced in terms of therapeutic support available for residential pupils."

"Staff are effective in safeguarding practice and have a strong feeling of shared ownership to keep residential pupils safe. Staff adopt a whole-school approach to understanding the importance of safeguarding."

"Behaviour management practices and effective. These promote residential pupils’ positive behaviours."

"Staff like working in the residential provision and feel that they work well with education staff in the school. Staff receive supervision and feel well supported in their role."

2017 Residential Care inspection

Our 2017 Residential Care inspection report was judged as 'Good' with Quality of Care and Support judged as 'Outstanding'. 

Ofsted say our residential provision is good because: 

  • Young people are safe and feel safe here.
  • They are making very good progress in relation to their starting points in all aspects of their development.
  • Young people have a good relationship with the staff. They enjoy spending time with them and are increasingly able to talk to them about how they are feeling.
  • The leadership and management of the residential provision are sound. As a result, the residence is an intrinsic part of the school.
  • All staff work together effectively to support the young people.
  • Parents and carers are supportive of the setting and said that, as a result of their child’s stay, ‘they now have their child back’. They are happier and better able to manage challenging situations, such as going out in the community. 
  • The school is well led and managed by the Principal, who is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for all young people, regardless of their starting points.

Other Ofsted feedback includes:

"Young people engage better with education because of their stay. School data demonstrates that residential pupils are achieving 100% in their targets in a number of subjects in school."

"Young people thoroughly enjoy spending time with their friends in residence and on trips in the community. They take part in an extensive range of activities that incorporate their individual needs, preferences and interests."

"Parents talked about the changes that their child's attendance have brought about for them 'She loves school and going out with us. She is now able to engage in all of her classes, because they understand her sensory issues and are continually addressing these.' Another parent said 'The decision to send their child here was huge and not what we wanted. However this has been 'massive' for us. His anxieties have greatly reduced, meaning that we can go out as a family. he is much happier and he now has friends."

The quality of the care and support is 'Outstanding'

"The interaction between school and care staff is seamless. Care staff said 'We are not care staff and school staff; we are one staff team, and we all work together to support the young people."

"Supporting young people's independence is at the heart of everything the staff do. Consequently, all young people are making excellent progress across all areas of their development."

2016 Residential Care inspection

Our 2016 Residential Care inspection report was judged as 'Good' with 'Quality of Care and Support' judged as 'Outstanding'. 

Ofsted say our residential provision is good because

  • The school provides outstanding levels of care and support for children and young people.
  • Staff across the school work closely and collaboratively and are aware of the individual needs of pupils. Relationships between staff and young people are strong and respectful.
  • The children and young people make sustained progress, both academically and personally during their time at the school. They make effective use of the wide ranging opportunities offered to develop their skills and interests. As a result, they build their self-esteem and grow in confidence.
  • Safeguarding policies and practice operate effectively to keep children and young people safe. The school has a robust training programme and works closely with other authorities to ensure that children and young people are safe. 
  • The senior leadership team, governors and staff are all committed to improving the lives of the children and young people in their care. Staff feel well supported in their role through a wide range of training events. 
  • Relationships with parents and carers are strong. Parents are positive about the care they receive with one saying ‘The boarding experience my son gets is excellent, the staff are wonderful and go above and beyond to help him.’ 

2015 Residential Care inspection

Residential Care inspection in March 2015, West Kirby School was judged “Good” with “Outstanding Features”.

The report stated “Residential pupils significantly improve their self-esteem and confidence because of their residential experience...  They live in a caring social community where they develop trust in each other… Pupils enjoy their time in the residential unit and feel comfortable in the safe surroundings of the wider school. They show an exceptional improvement in independence and self-esteem, according to their starting points. ”

With regard to the care provided to residential pupil’s, Ofsted comment “The care provided to the residential pupils is of an exceptionally high standard. Pupils have access to an experienced and very stable team of care staff who know them very well. The staff are responsible for the pastoral care of the pupils. This means that the pupils are able to share their personal thoughts and any concerns at any time. They say that staff always listen to them. Care staff demonstrate a positive enthusiasm for their work… They are very active in supporting the residential pupils to enjoy life at the school”.

Other previous Ofsted feedback comments

Here's some other previous Ofsted feedback:

  • Comments from parents included, ‘I wouldn’t want him anywhere else’, ‘she has achieved things I never thought she would achieve’ and ‘communication is excellent’
  • Residential pupils are looked after by a longstanding and experienced team of staff who are consistently child-centred in their approach
  • Staff have an innovative approach to behaviour management, which is effective in helping young people learn to manage their own feelings and behaviour
  • Residential pupils identify trusted relationships with staff and these relationships support young people’s progress
  • The key-worker system is a real strength
  • Residential pupils feel that staff help keep them safe and help them with their behaviour. This view is mirrored by parents
  • Leaders and managers have a good understanding of residential pupils and their plans
  • A real strength is effective working relationships that support residential pupil’s progress
  • Residential pupils make good progress in all areas of their development, due to the care and support that they receive from staff
  • Residential pupils make good progress at school. This is because there is good partnership working between residential and school staff
  • Residential pupils receive consistency across both settings and this supports their educational progress
  • Multi-agency work within the setting is a strength and contributes to residential pupils making progress
  • The therapy service, education, health and residential staff communicate effectively to ensure that residential pupils receive a holistic approach to their care
  • The school has a highly effective health department that supports residential healthcare practice, where it is necessary to do so regarding specialist support, and, more generally, with emotional well-being
  • Transitions are managed well



West Kirby School and College, Meols Drive, West Kirby, Wirral, CH48 5DH

0151 632 3201