Special school is a 'brilliant' place to learn

Special school is a 'brilliant' place to learn

4th December 2013


A VILLAGE school with a difference has won the highest praise as it continues to shape nationally education for students with special needs.

Students were more than happy to share with a team of Ofsted inspectors their views of The Dales School – that it is a ‘brilliant’ place to learn.

Inspectors awarded the school at Morton-on-Swale, between Bedale and Northallerton, the highest possible accolade of outstanding, for the second time running, for pupil achievement, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management.

They highlighted:

Early years foundation children make rapid progress in all areas as a result of excellent relationships and partnership work between staff, parents and health professionals.

Pupils are cared for exceptionally well and staff know their individual support needs and learning abilities very well.

Teachers, teaching assistants and health professionals work as highly effective teams.

Pupils behave extremely well and are keen to learn in lessons. They feel very safe and happy in school.

The head teacher and her senior managers provide outstanding leadership. They are always looking for ways to make the provision even better.

The governing body makes an outstanding contribution and supports and challenges senior leaders highly effectively.

The school is highly regarded in the community and has developed strong relationships with other providers to broaden the curriculum it can offer.

Inspectors chose a Wednesday to descend on the school, a day on which it opens its doors to the community for ‘scone shop’.

“We gave the inspectors the choice of gherkin or cheese scones and I told them that it is a brilliant place to come,” said student Thomas Cullen, 17, of Thirsk.

The Dales School provides teaching and learning for just 49 students aged from 2½ to 19, ranging from a high level of need to primary, secondary and post 16 education, from across North Yorkshire and Teesside.

But the school is also a leading authority in special needs education working with the Newcastle-based charity Equals, up to 30 schools in the region including Stockton and Middlesbrough, and with staff conducting training and speaking at events all over the country, including London and Manchester.

It has published MAPP – Mapping and Assessing Personal Progress – a system that personalises and monitors individual progress which is being adopted by schools across the country.

Dales School staff are also instrumental in writing special needs curriculum and rewriting assessments for early years.

Head teacher Hanne Barton said: “It was overwhelming reading the report and I take great pride in the fact that this has been a team effort including teaching assistants and colleagues in health.

“We want to get better all the time at what we do, for the sake of our students and their families, and that is not going to change or stop because we have received an outstanding report. We are proud of and passionate about what we do and we are happy to share our expertise if it can benefit students in our school or anywhere else.”

Chairman of governors Paul Chubb added: “We are delighted that the school has received the recognition it so richly deserves.”

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