PUPILS at Thornhill Park School in Sunderland were praised for their “exemplary” behaviour by Ofsted inspectors.

The inspectors’ report on the specialist school said: “Pupils are kind, respectful and considerate.”

That, together with skilled and supportive staff, resulted in “exemplary behaviour across the school,” it said.

Thornhill Park was rated as good overall with outstanding behaviour and attitudes. Inspectors who visited the school in June highlighted its engaging curriculum and “highly effective” individualised support for pupils.

They also praised the way leaders and teachers helped pupils prepare for adulthood. “Leaders are determined that all pupils will be given every opportunity to succeed in life,” they said.

Nadine Horton, Principal, said she was “immensely proud” of the report and thrilled for staff and pupils.

She said: “The praise for the pupils was one of the things I’m most proud of. They are wonderful and the inspectors said they represented the school really positively.

We also had had an extremely positive response from parents who said some wonderful things about the school.

Thornhill Park School has 47 pupils aged four to 19 who are all autistic and/or neurodivergent. They have a wide range of academic, developmental and emotional needs, and Ofsted said teachers skilfully adapted the curriculum to meet them.

Nadine said this involved making subjects meaningful to every pupil and ensuring the curriculum was flexible and broad. “For example, we put the emphasis on reading in all its forms – including sensory stories and being read to,” she said.

“Just because we are providing education for neurodivergent pupils doesn’t mean we can’t be ambitious for every single one of them. We absolutely are.”

Ofsted inspectors visited the Sunderland Minster café that the older pupils help run, preparing food, serving customers and handling payments. 

They also talked to pupils about how happy and safe they felt at school. One pupil told them: “Bullying does not even get a chance to take root here, because staff do not tolerate it.”

Thornhill Park pupils and staff have celebrated the report with a certificate giving assembly, a prom and an end-of-term barbecue. Nadine said: “It’s a wonderful way to end the year.”

Find out more about Thornhill Park School