Independent school in Sutton is hailed for nurturing children with special needs

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Youngsters who have struggled within the mainstream education system are making good progress at an independent special school in Sutton, says Ofsted.

Westbourne School, which teaches 81 pupils, aged eight to 18, has been rated ‘Good’ in all categories after an inspection by the education watchdog.

The inspectors’ report said: “Pupils are engaging more now with their education than they did before joining the school.

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"The school has an ambitious vision to ensure that all pupils become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens by developing their self-belief and pride.

Westbourne School, an independent special school in Sutton that has been rated 'Good' by the education watchdog, OfstedWestbourne School, an independent special school in Sutton that has been rated 'Good' by the education watchdog, Ofsted
Westbourne School, an independent special school in Sutton that has been rated 'Good' by the education watchdog, Ofsted

"It achieves this through a nurture-based approach that enables pupils to catch up on lost learning and achieve well.”

Westbourne is one of 36 schools run by the Bolton-based company, Acorn Care and Education Ltd, a leading provider of specialist education.

The Huthwaite Road school commands annual fees of between £60,000 and £86,000 and is mainly made up of children who have been referred by Nottinghamshire County Council and who have specific educational needs or support.

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They may have social, emotional, mental health or behavioural difficulties or learning conditions such as dyslexia, and they are likely to be the subject of an education, health and care plan (ECHP), which usually means the council must fund their place at the school.

The Ofsted inspectors praised Westbourne staff for being “very caring and supportive”. Their report said: “They understand pupils’ individual needs well., and are very aware of the difficulties pupils experience.

"Pupils know staff will look after them and encourage them to achieve their best. Most pupils say staff are helping them to manage their emotions.”

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The inspection found that the school has an “ambitious curriculum”, which prioritises developing a love for reading, leading to “success in recognised qualifications”.

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"Teachers use their good subject knowledge to present information clearly and engage pupils in interesting learning activities,” the report went on. "Staff are proud to work at the school.”

There had also been “rapid improvements to the teaching of maths”, while the personal development of pupils had been enriched by work experience, courses in engineering, catering and hair and beauty, and life-skills lessons to prepare pupils for adulthood.

Areas pinpointed for improvement included providing teachers with more precise information to help pupils achieve well, and ensuring a consistent policy to address pupils’ behaviour.