Headlines: November 20th, 2009

A new Ofsted report looks at the factors needed for success in special schools. The report highlights 12 outstanding schools judged to have excelled at providing for vulnerable children and young people and, Ofsted says, presents a challenge to other special and mainstream schools.

Today’s report follows two similar documents earlier this year which identified the secrets of success for outstanding primary and secondary schools. It details how the special schools deal with complex special educational needs, behavioural difficulties, disabilities and working with pupils who have been excluded from mainstream schools. ‘Twelve outstanding special schools – Excelling through inclusion’, describes schools with the highest aspirations for every child and which enable pupils to go on to achieve after their schooling has been interrupted.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said the staff of the schools were exceptionally skilled as educators and carers and had a deep passion for their work and respect for the children they taught. She added: “I am sure what these schools do can be replicated by others. This report presents a challenge for those which are not yet outstanding. Mainstream schools also have much to learn from some of the approaches described.”

The report details how assessments for pupils with complex educational needs need particular expertise. It also shows how many of the schools respond to behavioural needs and difficulties and overcome them by providing engaging learning opportunities. Staff are also trained in avoiding confrontation and working in partnership with other schools and professionals. Including pupils, the report says, requires positive and thoughtful action and Ofsted adds that it is important to give pupils a voice.