Praise for special school where 'children flourish'

Children at The Priory School in Bury St Edmunds are celebrating their outstanding Ofsted rating

Children at The Priory School in Bury St Edmunds are celebrating their outstanding Ofsted rating - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A special school where "children flourish" and "make exceptional progress" has held onto its outstanding Ofsted rating for its residential provision.

Priory School in Bury St Edmunds has been praised by the inspecting body for being a setting where "children feel valued and that their efforts are rewarded" and they develop social and independence skills.

The school, which is a residential special academy, received the top rating in every area following the full inspection in May this year.

The report said: "Children make exceptional progress from their starting points at this school because of their shared experiences and as a direct result of staying in a stimulating and learning-oriented residential provision."

It added: "The children flourish and make good progress in their education. The whole staff team uses an approach that improves attitudes to learning by helping children to experience success."

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The inspector also commended staff for how they have adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report said: "The staff communicate with parents and external professionals well. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, staff have kept in regular contact with children and families via telephone calls or doorstep visits.

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"Parents said that staff are approachable and non-judgemental, which helps parents and carers to feel comfortable to discuss any concerns."

And while the pandemic has meant children have been unable to participate in activities in the community, "staff have been creative in providing opportunities that continue to give children new experiences and develop their social interactions".

Children say that they feel safe at the school because they can talk to staff and the staff help them, the report said, and there is a "sophisticated" risk assessment process. 

School leaders and managers were hailed as being "exceptional" and demonstrated "their continued commitment to giving children the best possible experiences".

Lawrence Chapman, chief executive of the Priory School's trust, SENDAT, said: "We are delighted that the Ofsted report of Priory's residential provision recognises the hard work of all the staff and the positive outcomes for young people.

"To remain outstanding is hard work as you constantly have to seek ways to improve further.

"Usually this inspection is annual, but due to the pandemic there was no inspection last year. It's rightly a rigorous process where the inspector spent three days at Priory and arrived with just 30 minutes' notice.

"The inspection noted the considerable changes from two years ago and made no recommendations."

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