Stone Bay School in Broadstairs has received an outstanding grading and a glowing report following an inspection of its social care residential provision by education watchdog Ofsted.
The school offers day and residential provision for children aged between four and 19 who have been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder and have severe and complex learning needs. There are 102 youngsters on the role with 12 of those boarding at the school
An inspector visited the Stone Road school in September and has now published her report which grades residential provision as outstanding in all three areas of overall experience and progress of students, effectiveness of leaders and managers and how well students are protected.
The report notes: “The residential special school provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the school contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people.”
The inspector praises the care of youngsters, saying: “Children are looked after by staff who are deeply committed to providing them with high-quality and loving care. Children feel safe and secure and make exceptional progress as a result of their residential experience.
“Across the school, there is a deep-rooted ethos of treating children with dignity and respect. Staff give children sensitive and nurturing support while allowing them the freedom to follow their daily routines in their own way. The result is a relaxed atmosphere enabling children to live up to staff’s high expectations that they will do their very best.”
The inspector also noted that children are taught life skills as well as practical skills and dedicated staff help the youngsters to make great progress.
The report says: “Children make extremely good progress in relation to their communication skills. In one example, a child who found it difficult to tolerate being spoken to when they first arrived can now hold conversations with familiar staff. This child has made extraordinary progress as a result of the careful support he has received from a highly skilled and extremely experienced residential staff team.”
The school was noted for its well-being plans for students and the high priority that well-being and safety is given.
New headteacher Jane Hatwell has recently taken up the post at the school and the inspector noted the support given by senior members, including: “the head of care, who is deeply committed to improving children’s life chances.”
Describing staff retention as ‘remarkable’ the inspector said this gave stability and was the basis of trusting relationships. The school has many long-serving staff, some who have been in their role for more than 30 years.
The inspector noted some minor redecoration of the school was needed and, because the staff provide extra support for children receiving respite care, some further guidelines would need drawing up for staff.
Head of care, Martyn Nash said the school team is “over the moon” with the outstanding grading and report.
He said the excellent care for pupils was aided by being involved with families and supporting them whenever it was needed.
He added: “It is almost like one big family network. We do whatever we can to help our children succeed. Where parents might struggle for things like taking children to appointments, we support them.
“We have an incredible team of staff, lots are long-serving and some have been here 30 plus years. They are so passionate about caring for the kids. It is really good for a manager like myself to have a team like this. Everybody is over the moon with the outcome.”