Sunderland autism school wins praise from Ofsted inspectors

Thornhill Park School, Sunderland
Thornhill Park School, Sunderland
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A specialised school in Sunderland has been praised by Ofsted inspectors.

The education watchdogs rated Thornhill Park, an independent school for children with autism, as good in all areas.

Thornhill Park, which is run by the North East Autism Society, caters for children aged five through to 19.

All aspects of the school including leadership, quality of teaching, personal development, outcomes, early years and sixth form, were rated as good by the inspectors.

The report into the school, where fees can reach up to £79,000 a year, said pupils enjoy good relationships with staff and feel safe and well cared for.

It said: “Pupils make good progress, from their different and typically low starting points, because of good teaching, learning and assessment.

“Staff are patient and skilled at managing pupils’ behaviour, often associated with their complex needs. Consequently, the school is calm and orderly.”

They said communication between home and school is effective at sharing successes and concerns and personalised learning programmes are a strong feature of the school’s work to prepare pupils for their lives beyond school.

The report said: “Pupils benefit from much individual care and attention.

“Trustees have high aspirations for the school and its pupils. They are aware of the school’s strengths and where improvement is needed.”

Sixth form pupils benefit from a broad curriculum that is based around developing both life and work-related skills.

To improve further the school needs to ensure teachers plan activities that challenge all pupils, particularly the most able, and that staff are more efficient at deciding when to allow pupils to complete tasks unaided and when to offer support.

The report went on to say: “Pupils, many of whom often enter the school with poor experiences of education or lack confidence, are welcomed into the school and benefit from a staff team who understand autism and provide a positive learning experience.”