Special school gets the thumbs up from inspectors

Head Teacher Carolyn Barker (centre) and happy pupils celebrate the good Ofsted report at Barbara Priestman School, Sunderland

Head Teacher Carolyn Barker (centre) and happy pupils celebrate the good Ofsted report at Barbara Priestman School, Sunderland

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EDUCATION chiefs have sent a Sunderland school to the top of the class.

Ofsted inspectors said Barbara Priestman School was good overall with outstanding features and an outstanding capacity to improve.

Carolyn Barker, headteacher at the Meadowside school, which caters for pupils with complex learning needs and autism, said everyone at the school was pleased with what the inspectors had to say about them.

She said: “The report was pretty stunning. It reads very, very well, but it is a little bit frustrating not to get outstanding overall.”

Yesterday, the Echo revealed how the school is set to become an academy in July as part of the new Ascent Multi-agency Trust.

In the report inspectors said: “This is a good school. The sixth form is also good. Leadership and management are outstanding and have improved dramatically since its last inspection.

“There is a crystal clear management structure outlining well-defined responsibilities, very high levels of continuing professional development to improve teaching and learning and a ceaseless focus on enhancing all students’ life opportunities.

“Students are increasingly reaping the benefits of the many developments that have taken place. However, this has not yet been sustained over a prolonged period of time, which is the main reason why the school is not outstanding.”

Inspectors said students make good progress in their learning, as well as in their behavioural and personal skills and benefit significantly from outstanding spiritual, moral, social and cultural opportunities and an excellent curriculum.

The report said: “They achieve well by the time they leave school and all groups of students make similar progress overall. The school’s focus on improving skills in mathematics, reading and communication is very effective.”

Inspectors said teaching is good and in some lessons it is outstanding.

They said: “Throughout the school, including the sixth form, behaviour is good and students have a good understanding of keeping safe.

“Students and their parents and carers hold highly-positive views of staff.

“They appreciate the good teaching and the safe, supportive and inclusive environment provided by the school.”

To improve further the school needs to sustain the accelerating rates of pupils’ progress and improved achievement over time and to improve the quality of all teaching to the standard of the best.

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