Sketchley School and Forest House in Leicestershire has been rated outstanding" by Ofsted. The school, based in Burbage, received the highest rating across all areas inspected including pupils’ achievement, pupils’ behaviour and personal development, quality of teaching, quality of curriculum, pupils’ welfare, health and safety and leadership and management.
Sketchely Horizon is an independent specialist day school with provision for up to 30 students who have autistic spectrum disorders.
The report praised the "outstanding and inspirational leadership provided by the head teacher, with very effective support from the proprietor’. It noted that ‘the students make exceptional progress, particularly as many of them have had very disturbed experiences in their previous school placements."
The students’ behaviour is described as "outstanding" and the inspector commented that they "develop a very good understanding of the difficulties and frustrations associated with their conditions" and are "very effectively supported by staff to devise and carry out strategies to reduce the frequency and limit the impact of any outbursts and incidents."
The school’s teaching was praised for "enabling students to make exceptional gains in learning in lessons" and addressing "the requirements of students’ statements of special educational needs very well in respect of students’ personal and academic needs".
The school’s environment is also singled out as providing "high quality accommodation" with "appropriate and well resourced classrooms and specialist teaching areas".
The impact of the school’s outstanding activities are demonstrated by current student Jonathan’s* experience. He started at Sketchley Horizon School in 2009 having attended at least four different schools and spending a significant time out of education. He had previous exclusions from specialist education establishments and had not been in a sustained school placement for a number of years.
Jonathan had sensory issues and was unable to tolerate long trousers, socks or shoes and displayed enduring challenging behavioural difficulties. After an initial ‘settling in’ period Jonathan has thrived at Sketchley Horizon. At his 2012 annual review he was studying for GCSEs in English, Maths and Science and working towards his ambition of becoming a chef with a placement in the school’s catering kitchen, working in food preparation and cooking.
With support from school staff, Jonathan has made significant strides in combating his social interaction difficulties and his sensory issues to enable him to cope with the heat in the kitchen, wearing chef’s whites and serving food. Jonathan is now eloquent, focussed and has a determination to progress to college for a supported placement to study catering.
Sketchley Horizon School Principal Sarah-Jane Astbury said; "We are absolutely delighted that Ofsted has given this independent verification of the quality of our school.
"This report is testament to the staff, who have a genuine passion to ensure that the educational and social needs of the pupils are appropriately met.
"However, we will not rest on our laurels but will continue to look for innovative ways to enhance our provision even further. Jonathan is just one example of the very many positive outcomes being achieved by our students, who are being enabled and supported to reach their full potential and lead as independent and fulfilling life as possible."
*Name changed to protect the student’s identity
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