Special school near Haverhill turns things around to impress Ofsted
A school for boys with special educational needs has turned things around to earn a ‘Good’ with ‘outstanding’ aspects rating from Ofsted, less than three years after being deemed ‘inadequate.’
The critical report for Broadlands Hall, in Haverhill Road, Little Wratting, followed an inspection in November 2014, when its overall effectiveness was judged as inadequate.
An action plan submitted in March 2015 failed to impress Ofsted, but another action plan six months later was deemed good enough, culminating in the impressive rating awarded last summer.
Hazel Simmons, who took over as the head teacher at the 19-pupil independent special school, in September 2015, said: “To go from inadequate to good with outstanding in two years, only a tiny number of schools do that.
“It normally takes three to eight years to turn things around. It’s an incredibly short time.”
The school specialises in educating 11 to 18-year-olds, most of whom have autism, sometimes severely so. All have special needs.
Pupils have been referred from local authorities across the country, such as Kent, Oxfordshire, Merton and Essex.
“They come here from very difficult circumstances and they come here and maybe they’ve not been treated very well so therefore they are outside of society and they’ve invariably been excluded from schools,” said Ms Simmons.
Broadlands Hall has ten teaching staff; five qualified teachers and five LSAs (learning support assistants), enabling students to receive very personalised lessons.
A national trainer in Makaton also works at the boarding school and a Forest School is currently being set up.
Two of the students were nonverbal when they arrived there - both are now speaking, a measure of the school’s positive impact on their lives.
The school also works closely with the local community.
Some pupils attend mainstream classes at Castle Manor Academy and Thomas Gainsborough School, while some have work experience placements.
There is a regular link up with the Hundon Bowling Club and Hundon Over 70s Choir too, with visits made to the school.
Ms Simmons said: “We are driven by this whole community cohesion. Integrating these boys into the community and giving something back to the community.”