A SCHOOL has been found to require improvement after an inspection by Ofsted.

Progress School - an alternative provision school on Victoria Place in Carlisle - underwent a standard inspection in April last year in which it was graded 'requires improvement', and an additional inspection on December 13 last year saw the watchdog repeat this grade.

In an inspection report published on Friday, the school faced scrutiny regarding its 'adherence to independent school standards'. The overall outcome of the inspection reported that the school does not meet all the standards checked.

One of the aspects scrutinized was the quality of education provided.

The inspection highlighted concerns about the curriculum not meeting the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Weaknesses in the curriculum development for key stage 3 and pupils struggling with reading hindered their ability to build and deepen knowledge effectively, the report said.

The school submitted an action plan in August 2023, but the Department for Education (DfE) rejected it on the grounds that the plan 'lacked clarity' on the focus subjects for improvement and failed to explain adequately how the curriculum would address the needs of key stage 3 pupils and those with SEND.

During the progress monitoring inspection, improvements were noted in plans and schemes of work in English, mathematics, and science.

However, incomplete curriculum development in other subjects posed challenges.

Insufficient clarity on key knowledge and the order of learning hindered effective teaching and learning, especially for pupils with education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

While progress was observed in addressing early-stage reading curriculum issues, the impact on pupils remained limited, according to Ofsted.

The inspection also delved into teaching effectiveness.

In the standard inspection of April 2023, shortcomings were identified including 'inadequate subject knowledge' among staff and a 'lack of adaptability in curriculum delivery'.

The progress monitoring inspection revealed that curriculum development and staff training were insufficient, failing to address pupils' misconceptions and missing knowledge in some lessons.

The inspection raised concerns about the quality of leadership and management.

Despite a curriculum review and some improvements, the leadership had not taken adequate action to meet all the unmet standards from the previous inspection, and the overall quality of education remained poor, the report stated.

Ofsted said the school does not meet the requirements of the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014.

The challenges identified in the inspection call for a comprehensive review of the school's approach to curriculum development, teaching effectiveness, and leadership strategies to ensure compliance with independent school standards, the report said.

'We remain committed to providing the very best education'

Charlotte Barton, managing director of Progress Schools, said in a statement: "We have worked incredibly hard to address the concerns raised by the previous Ofsted inspection and were pleased to see some recognition that progress had been made across several areas.

"We have overhauled our curriculum for example, which includes planning five academic years’ worth of the skills and knowledge for our students.

"But unfortunately, because we had not yet finalised all activities for lessons in the summer term in some subjects, this area could not be regarded as being fully met. As such, Part 8 (leadership and Management) also remained unmet as the inspection handbook dictates that if you have any unmet standards in parts 1-7 you are also not meeting part 8.

"As a provider of alternative provision, we place significant emphasis on providing the appropriate level of support for all our students, so we were disappointed that Ofsted did not see enough evidence of us supporting those students with EHCPs.

"Supporting a student’s individual needs is what our whole approach is based on, but we will now work to strengthen how we evidence our support of all students, with an emphasis on those with an EHCP.

"We remain committed to providing the very best education to all students.”