A Teesside specialist school has been praised by Ofsted for giving autistic children another chance at education after months or even years out of the classroom.

Kiora Hall, which is run by the North East Autism Society in partnership with Stockton Council, has been open for just over a year – but already it has turned around the lives of many of its pupils.

One parent told Ofsted inspectors: “My child is finally happy in education after years of anxiety about school.”

Another said: “My child is fully appreciated here and encouraged in absolutely everything they do, even things they find very difficult.”

Ofsted rated the school as good in all areas. Its report said: “Pupils thrive at this school. Pupils are happy and safe.

“Many pupils who join have missed a lot of education. Some have been highly anxious about going into any school. Once settled at Kiora Hall, however, pupils attend very well.”

Kiora Hall has 35 autistic and neurodivergent pupils aged between five and 19. Some of the children had spent years out of education before starting at the school.

Tracey Train, school principal, says: “Parents describe the move here as life-changing. Some of the children hadn’t left the house for a long time or attended school before they started.

“We are able to adapt our education offer to their needs and slowly build up their trust and make them feel safe. Once the barriers are down, we can work with them on their learning.

Families say they see a big change in their children. They see them take part in things they never thought possible.

Ofsted inspectors said the school was ambitious for its pupils. “Pupils enjoy their lessons and make progress quickly,” the report said. “Staff are skilled at using strategies that support pupils’ sensory and communication needs.” 

Preparing pupils for adulthood and building up their independence is another strength of the school, inspectors said, with activities such as shopping, swimming and horse-riding in the local community.

The report added: “Pupils are considerate of others. Bullying is extremely rare. Pupils build positive relationships with staff.”

Tracey said she was “delighted” with the Ofsted report, and put the school’s success down to the staff team’s expertise and hard work, as well as its personalised approach to pupils.

She’s now planning to celebrate Kiora’s success with the pupils, parents and staff after the half-term holidays.

Find out more about Kiora Hall