Ofsted inspectors give Blyth Special Needs school full marks

Pupils and staff at a Special Needs school in Northumberland are celebrating after they were rated outstanding in all areas by inspectors

The Dales school on Cowpen Road, Blyth, who have recieved a great Ofsted report
The Dales school on Cowpen Road, Blyth, who have recieved a great Ofsted report

Pupils and staff are celebrating after their school was given top marks across the board.

The Dales School in Northumberland is for primary age children who have Special Needs.

And after a recent visit Ofsted inspectors have rated it outstanding in all areas – the highest accolade possible.

The school relocated to Blyth from east Hartford, near Cramlington in 2010 and was graded good with some outstanding features when it was inspected just three weeks later.

But when the Ofsted team returned last month they were impressed with the changes that had been made, describing pupil behaviour as “superb” and leadership as “inspirational”.

The report said: “Children start school with skills which are well below those typically expected for their age due to their disabilities and special educational needs. The vast majority of pupils make outstanding progress during their time at The Dales.”

Simon Greener Liam Barnes enjoying a cooking class at The Dales school
Liam Barnes enjoying a cooking class at The Dales school

It added: “The Dales has continued to improve markedly since its last inspection. There is a constant drive for excellence from the headteacher, senior leaders and from all staff.”

Headteacher Hugh Steele said: “We are ecstatic about this report, especially to have achieved the outstanding grade across all four areas. It shows we have the whole package.

“The commitment of the staff is incredible and this is the result of their extremely hard work, supported by the parents and carers to provide an individualised learning opportunity for each child in school.

“In the past schools for children with special need have found it exceptionally difficult, if not impossible to achieve the ‘outstanding’ grade. This is because an indicator of success, used by Ofsted has been ’Achievement’. However, ‘progress’ is now a key indicator.”

When the school first moved to Blyth it had 28 children on the roll, but now has 70 pupils who travel from across Northumberland. Their disabilities include Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, emotional and social Difficulties, and; a range of other complex needs including: Downs Syndrome; Cerebral Palsy, and Epilepsy.

A large amount of money has been spent on altering and developing the school but fundraising is still ongoing with plans for a hydrotherapy pool.


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