Special school in Purbrook ranked ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

Riverside Community Special School headteacher Catherine Marsh celebrates with some of the children''Picture: Sarah Standing (161591-3401)
Riverside Community Special School headteacher Catherine Marsh celebrates with some of the children''Picture: Sarah Standing (161591-3401)
Wellington Vale care home residents Sandra Smith (in blue and white) and Eve Campion (in pink) and Berewood Primary School's school council at the unveiling of a bench in Newlands Walk play area that the residents helped to design. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Waterlooville care home residents unveil bench they designed for play park

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STAFF at a special school are celebrating a gleaming report from Ofsted.

Riverside Community Special School in Purbrook was named ‘outstanding’ after its latest inspection.

The report praised the ‘highly effective quality of teaching, learning and assessment’, and ‘stunning provision’ for the youngest pupils.

Headteacher Catherine Marsh believes that the report ‘shows the true dedication’ of her staff.

She said: ‘We come into the school every day and we enjoy our job, but more importantly we aim to make sure that the children are catered for.

‘I really like how the report recognised our strong sense of community, and how our staff know all of the children very well.’

The school houses 105 students aged three to 11 with moderate to severe learning difficulties such as autism.

The school was graded as ‘good’ in 2012, but Ofsted has identified ‘carefully chosen strategies for improvement’.

Catherine said: ‘We knew that there were improvements that needed to be made but my aim is never just for that tick in the box. It’s for making sure that the children always have the best outcome.’

‘We put a huge amount of time and energy into ensuring pupils are able to learn how to read and spell.

‘We also set about improving staff’s use of language so that children understand what we are saying and give the best responses they can.’

‘I think we’ve really improved our ways of preparing the children for moving onto the next stage of their education and for future life.’

Plans for three new outdoor areas at the school are already in place after the inspectors said that teachers ‘do not always make as much use of the outside environment’.

Catherine said: ‘These playground areas will enable pupils to transfer their learning experience outside, and offer the sensory experiences that some of our children require to learn.’

Cllr Peter Edgar, executive member for education at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘This is fantastic news for the school which does such a great job of ensuring young people are able to enjoy a good education and achieve develop important skills.

‘Ms Marsh and her staff’s dedication and commitment is to be congratulated.’