SMALL class sizes, investing in teachers and caring for every child are the ingredients for success at a special school in Portsmouth that has been graded outstanding by Ofsted.
Redwood Park School in Cosham is celebrating a glowing report which praises everything from pupil behaviour and achievement to consistent teaching and a ‘highly relevant’ curriculum.
It is a great achievement for a school that caters for pupils with a wide range of difficulties – from those who don’t speak, to others with physical and emotional problems, and many with mild to extreme autism.
Headteacher Tony Cox said: ‘I’m delighted for the children and for the parents.
‘The success of the school could not be achieved without the passion and dedication of all our staff.
‘We all share the ambition for every single child to do the best they can. Ultimately, we want them to be independent, contributing members of society.
‘No-one leaves this school without post-16 provision in place and we follow up on all our children.’
At Redwood Park, almost all class sizes are 10 or less, and each lesson is led by a minimum of one teacher and a teaching assistant.
At the school 92 per cent of the budget is spent on staffing and there are 40 staff to 140 children.
No classroom teaching goes on – only individual work which focuses on each child.
Mr Cox said: ‘The trick is to discover where the pupils succeed, and then to show them their own success and build on that for other subjects.
‘Our starting point is not numeracy and literacy – it’s what the child is good at.
‘If that is art or sports, we encourage them to do more of it, because that will lead them on to enjoying other parts of the curriculum.’
Redwood Park’s Ofsted means three out of four special education providers in the city are rated outstanding.
Portsmouth education boss Rob Wood believes this places the authority in the top 10 per cent of the country for special schools provision.
And now he wants heads of mainstream schools to look closely at how schools like Redwood Park bring the best out of children with behavioural problems.
Cllr Wood said: ‘I think headteachers of mainstream schools have something to learn from our special schools.’