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Staff at Bristol’s Snowdon Village family of schools have been praised for their ‘dedication and expertise’ by Ofsted inspectors who have rated the school ‘good’ for the first time.

Snowdon Village – which includes The Nest, Engage, Bristol Futures Academy and City School – is an alternative provision for students who have been excluded from mainstream schools or whose learning needs which make it hard to cope in a mainstream setting.

But despite the difficulties many of these students have faced in previous schools, Ofsted says Snowdon Village’s skilled staff are proving adept at encouraging pupils to ‘re-engage with learning in a positive way’.

Inspectors say the school’s focus on students’ social and emotional needs has been a ‘great success’, while the personal development offering is an ‘impressive’ strength.

As a result, they rated Snowdon Village as ‘good’ – a signal of the substantial improvement made since they graded it as ‘requires improvement’ in their previous inspection.

The Ofsted inspector’s report said, ‘Pupils come to Snowdon Village with previous negative experiences of education. They have often had significant periods of non-attendance.

‘Leaders prioritise building strong, trusting relationships between pupils and staff. As a result, pupils attend school increasingly well and re-engage with learning in a positive way.

‘Pupils are keen to describe the impact that staff have on them. They value the commitment that staff have to securing the very best for them. Parents agree. They are greatly appreciative of the dedication, expertise and communication they have with staff to achieve goals that they never thought would be possible, for example pupils sitting GCSEs and attending school full time.

‘Leaders provide a wealth of opportunities for pupils to experience success and increase their resilience. Pupils learn how to manage their emotions in response to demands placed on them. They are well prepared for their next steps and to become active members of their community.’

Snowdon Village – part of the Cabot Learning Federation – earned further praise in areas such as safeguarding, leadership and personal development.

On safeguarding, Ofsted said:

‘Leaders have ensured that safeguarding is high priority. Staff know pupils very well. They are alert to the risks that pupils face. Leaders use this knowledge to plan relevant safeguarding training. Staff know how to identify and report concerns. Leaders take prompt action to follow up any concerns. They are tenacious in securing appropriate support for vulnerable families.’

On leadership, Ofsted said: “

‘The school has recovered from a period of significant staff turbulence at the point of, and immediately following, the previous inspection. The leadership of the school has stabilised. This has had a considerable impact on pupils’ education. It has been fully supported by a well-informed, knowledgeable academy council and the wider trust. Each of the five sites have established their vision and purpose.’

And on personal development, Ofsted said:

‘The personal development of pupils is a strength of the school. It capitalises on the relational approach, and high expectations prioritised by staff. The breadth of the offer is impressive. For example, younger pupils have outdoor learning and participate in a range of trips and visits to increase their social skills and learn about the world around them. Older pupils have access to vocational activities matched to personal interests. This develops their confidence, resilience and future aspirations.’

Snowdon Village Principal Alex Davies said,We are all thrilled with the outcome and have been working incredibly hard over the last four years to secure this – a judgement our children deserve. I’m delighted for our school community and particularly the families and children we serve.

“It’s really important for the sector that Alternative Provisions are recognised for the crucial part they play in supporting some of our most vulnerable families and helping children obtain the outcomes they are capable of. The HMI described the inspection as unprecedented due to the complex nature of the school, but the lead inspector and her team were brilliant at understanding the work we do and the complexities of the different sites.

“The team was fantastic but the real showstoppers were the children. So proud of their school and keen to show it off. That is what it’s all about.”

Education Director Sally Apps added, “This is a richly deserved ‘Good’ outcome for a school that plays an important role in the education landscape in Bristol and beyond. We are delighted that the children, parents, staff and volunteers at the school have been recognised for the excellent community they have built together over time.

“Our trust is extremely proud of our ‘Village serving a City’ and we are excited about what the future holds for the young people who attend.”