A rapidly improving Wolverhampton special school which is enabling its pupils to achieve has been rated Good by Ofsted.

Inspectors visited Penn Fields School earlier this year and found leaders 'want all pupils to achieve their very best'. Leaders, together with governors, have taken 'effective steps to improve the quality of education' at the school and have 'established a high expectation' for what pupils should learn and when.

They say that 'respectful and kind relationships underpin all that is good at Penn Fields'. Pupils 'develop trusting and positive relationships' with staff and each other and staff are 'caring, kind and supportive' and 'take the time to get to know pupils well'. Staff work with parents and carers to understand pupils' individual learning, physical, sensory and communication needs and 'use this information carefully to remove barriers to learning and enable pupils to achieve'.

Pupils learn a broad range of subjects, and most are able to learn these subjects in depth. Subject leaders make sure that pupils learn the right things in the right order and teachers put measures in place to make lessons more understandable, such as working closely with speech and language therapists to adapt lessons where required.

Leaders 'promote reading well', make regular checks on pupils’ phonics knowledge and provide support to pupils who are not keeping up with the school’s reading programme. Children have access to a wide variety of books and spoke enthusiastically with inspectors about story time and the books they have read.

Attention is paid to developing pupils’ independence and preparing them for their next stages of their life and education. They take part in a range of activities outside of the classroom, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, residential trips and running the coffee shop.

Students in the sixth form gain qualifications in English and mathematics and study a wide range of courses which include animal care, mechanics, food technology, carpentry, horticulture, and hair and beauty. Students benefit from 'quality and timely careers advice', helping give them a 'clear idea of what they would like to do in the future'. Inspectors say this support means 'students are actively developing the knowledge and skills they need to be successful'.

The school environment is described as 'calm and orderly', with pupils socialising well together during break and lunchtimes. Adults help pupils with 'well thought out therapeutic approaches' and some pupils also relish the chance to care for the school’s chickens, helping them 'remain settled and focused throughout the day'.

Staff say they are proud to work at Penn Fields, and say that leaders care about their wellbeing and are considerate of their workload. 

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Leaders and staff understand that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities often have significant and complex vulnerabilities, and staff receive regular training to keep pupils safe. They also 'know their pupils well, so that they can spot when anything may be wrong or is worrying' the young person. There are also good links between the school’s welfare team and the pupils’ families.

Inspectors judged the overall effectiveness of Penn Fields School to be Good, with the school also rated Good in each of the 5 inspection areas: the quality of education; behaviour and attitudes; personal development; leadership and management; and sixth form provision.

Headteacher Laura Thackaberry said: “It has been a long journey to get where we are today and has only been possible due to the continued support from the council’s Education Excellence team, our school governors, our parents and most importantly our pupils. 

“Our whole staffing body have shown nothing but passion, enthusiasm and commitment to the improvement of the school and I am proud to be part of our Penn Fields community.” 

Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Work, said: "This is a wonderful inspection report for Penn Fields School, which has rightly moved from a Requires Improvement rating to a well deserved Good outcome. 

"I would like to congratulate Laura and her leadership team, staff, pupils and families for all their hard work which has led to rapid improvements at Penn Fields and wish them well as they continue their journey of improvement in the months and years ahead."

Latest figures show 89% of schools in Wolverhampton with a current Ofsted grade are rated either Good or Outstanding, the highest ever.