Twelve outstanding special schools - excelling through inclusion

An Ofsted report published today (20 November) showcases 12 outstanding special schools that excel at providing for very vulnerable children and young people. It shows how these schools deal with complex special educational needs, behavioural difficulties, disabilities and pupils excluded from mainstream schools.

Twelve outstanding special schools - Excelling through inclusion describes schools that have the highest aspirations for every child and aim never to give up on them. These schools enable pupils whose schooling has been interrupted by obstacles and traumatic events to go on to achieve remarkable things.

The 12 schools, from across England, are all successful at helping children with the greatest learning and behavioural difficulties or other special needs. Their staff are exceptionally skilled as educators and carers, with a deep passion for their work and respect for the children they teach.

I am sure what these schools do can be replicated by others. This report presents a challenge for those which are not yet outstanding. Mainstream schools also have much to learn from some of the approaches described.

Christine Gilbert

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector

Twelve outstanding special schools - Excelling through inclusion follows two reports launched earlier this year that identified the secrets of success for outstanding primary schools and outstanding secondary schools.

Educational practice at its best

There are many ways in which the outstanding special and related schools exhibit educational practice at its best. These include:

  • high expectations and aspirations and a profound and well-justified belief that every child and young person can learn and achieve
  • refined skill in finding and applying the most effective approaches to communicating with, relating to and teaching children and young people with special needs and challenges
  • exceptional expertise in assessing progress and recognising the smallest steps as well as large jumps in learning, and in using assessment to guide teaching directly
  • highly effective and indispensable teamwork across the school workforce in which varied skills combine and best practice is readily shared n strong partnerships with other professionals and providers, not least in reintegration and transition
  • the provision of ambitious and exciting opportunities through well-designed and individualised curriculum arrangements
  • respect for individual children, young people and their parents, with the power to bring cheer and self-belief to children, and relief, optimism and support to parents
  • unremittingly committed, inspirational and forward-looking leadership which believes that every professional challenge has a solution.

Visit page two for pictures, more reading and links to each school's inspection report

Read the press release