STAFF and pupils at Thornhill Park School are celebrating this week after Ofsted inspectors gave the North East Autism Society school the thumbs up!

The report, published this week, included praise for good leadership and management, trustees with high aspirations, excellent opportunities for work experience and particularly noted how every pupil over recent years has gone on to further education and training – a virtual unknown for learners with autism.

Achieving ‘good’ across the board, the inspection, which took place with just one day’s notice in December, recorded no areas of weakness with just three minor adjustments pinpointed to take the already successful school to outstanding.

The news of the school’s successful inspection report is no surprise to parents of children and young people who access Thornhill Park School.
Jean Garner, mum to 16-year-old Alicia, who has been attending the school for more than two years, said: “Of course it got a great report – that school, and the Society, has changed our lives.

“When Alicia started there we had issues over her behaviour, her anxiety and countless other things but now she is happy and settled. I never once imagined a future for her. There was really no light at the end of the tunnel, but since she’s been at Thornhill Park she’s started really enjoying arts and crafts and we can even see her using that, maybe becoming an artist in the future.

“I couldn’t praise the staff, and the people who look after her, more.”

r her, more.”

Jean’s experience matches the inspector’s observations.

The lead inspector, said: “School records, along with discussions with parents and pupils, show that most pupils make significant improvements to their behaviour during their time at school.”

It was also noted that bullying was not an issue at the school and that as well as the teaching being ‘effective’ the school was also shown to make good provision for pupils’ social development and promoted equality and diversity.

Currently the school, under the guidance of head teacher Christine Cave, has 26 pupils from early years to sixth form on its register.

Director of Education for the North East Autism Society, Chris Dempster, said: “We are thrilled with this report because it acknowledges what we already know – pupils are making very good progress and the team there are doing an amazing job.

“I’m really pleased Ofsted took special note of our person centred provision because that’s something we really work hard on. No two people with autism are the same and all pupils benefit from learning programmes tailored to meet their assessed need. I’m really pleased they mentioned that staff training is one of our strengths as well.”

In summarising the key strengths of the school, the inspector, commented: “Personalised learning programmes are a strong feature of the school’s work to prepare pupils for their lives beyond school. Pupils benefit from much individual care and attention.”

Moving forward teachers have been asked to make sure targets remain challenging for pupils of all abilities.

Chris Dempster added: “We already have plans in place, preceding the inspection; because we regularly assess the work we do and constantly look for ways to improve. Our improvement plans and the areas for development identified in the inspection report reflect our own self-assessment report so I’m satisfied, and we will continue to work to maintain and further improve our school.”

Click here to read a copy of the full report