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NDSOPA: Frequently Asked Questions

What does your syllabus look like prior to GCSE?

Curriculum from KS3 to GCSE follows the National Curriculum. As an Independent School we don’t have to follow the National Curriculum, however we made the decision to do so as both of our academic teachers have delivered National Curriculum prior to joining us at NDSOPA.  


How many GCSE’s do the students take?

The students will take 9 GCSE’s: English Literature, English Language, Mathematics, Science (Dual Award), History or Geography, RE, Art, Dance and Drama. 


How many staff do you have?

Currently, the students have two teachers: Dr Tidbury for Science, Mathematics, IT and Music and Mrs Payne for English, Geography, History, PHSE, Art and French. From September 2022 we will have additional members of staff who will be brought in to teach French and Art as a specialism. Dr Tidbury completed his Secondary Teacher Training at Liverpool College before joining us in September 2021. Prior to that he lectured at The University of Liverpool which is where he also completed his MRes and PhD. Mrs Payne qualified as a solicitor at university before venturing into teaching in 1999. She has been involved in Mainstream schools and also heavily involved in the set up and management of a PRU school in Milton Keynes. Mrs Payne moved to Antigua in 2012 and taught from ages 3 – 19 and moved back to the UK in July 2021 to join us at NDSOPA. Mrs Payne is also our SENCO. 


How is academic progress measured?

When students first commence Year 7, they will sit a range of initial assessments to determine the level that they are currently working at. Students also complete formal formative assessments throughout each half term to measure their progress. These are set in line with the National Curriculum and students are marked against this and given a level within the national average. All of our current students are working either at or above the national average for their age group. This is discussed at Parents’ Evening. As HoE, I also complete a weekly report that oversees the development of the children. Academic and Performing Arts staff contribute to this, and I complete an overarching comment. It is from these reports that I can monitor and assess if there are any areas that require more focus for the students. 


Where are classes held?

Our Academic and Performing Arts classes are held in the same building/s. We have a multi-functional studio space that we adapt to the timetable. Students tend to sit in a ‘U’ shape for academic classes. (Deliberate decision by SLT to reflect humanist learning theories and build student’s level of contribution to classes). We are also able to spread tables out for academic assessments. As you can imagine, students and staff have access to the resources they require for lessons, and we are currently in the process of renovating the unit next door to our current location. This will become the school’s home and will house 3 academic classrooms and 1 studio in addition to our 2 existing studios in our current building. 


How do you deliver science?

The students are currently taught science on site. They complete small scale practical experiments here. For larger experiments, we travel to a link school to use their labs and technicians. 


How many breaks do the students have?

Students have a 15-minute mid-morning break, a 45-minute lunch break and an hour dinner break on site. They have the option to buy hot food, snacks and drinks from us on site or they can bring a packed lunch with them.


What is the outcome of your most recent inspection?

At this moment, we are awaiting our first Full Inspection from Ofsted. We have been through the Pre-Validation Inspection from Ofsted which looks at our processes, policies and procedures for the day to day running of the school. This also includes the curriculum design and the management processes. With being an Independent School, when we are inspected, we will be assessed on the Teaching, Learning and Assessment of the school in addition to the criteria from the Pre-Validation Inspection to ensure the school is running effectively behind the scenes, too. 


How do you manage pastoral care?

Pastoral care falls to SLT. We also have another member of staff who helps out around the school and studio who the children often approach for pastoral reasons. This member of staff Is Lead Safeguard trained in addition to the Principal, Nazene and Head of Education, Amber. 


What additional opportunities do the students have?

The children have quite a few extra-curricular opportunities. Since September 2021 they have completed a Break Out room, experienced a recording studio, filmed a music video, been to the theatre to support our college students in pantomime, currently taking part in pantomime with performances running 11th – 20th February and some students have taken part in auditions for West End roles (dependent upon age, height, features etc). 

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