AN OUTSTANDING rating has been given to a school for children with severe learning difficulties.

Hexham Priory School received the Ofsted rating in February 2023.

Headteacher Louise Burns commented: "The whole school community is delighted with the result. It is a true reflection of the hard work and professionalism of all the staff, and of the ambition and passion our whole school team have for our children and young people." 

The report described pupils’ behaviour and attitudes to learning as 'wonderful'.

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Ofsted's report said: "Leaders have created a warm and welcoming place. Pupils enjoy attending school. They care about each other and form positive relationships with their peers and adults. There is a sense of calm all around school. Pupils feel safe and happy and make the most of the opportunities they are given. Pupils thrive in this environment."

The report adds: "Communication and interaction lie at the heart of the curriculum. Leaders have implemented communication bands. Pupils are placed into a ‘band’ that is determined by their individual communication ability and comprehension of language.

"These bands span the three pathways. As a result, staff support small groups of pupils with content and strategies to meet pupils’ needs. This includes using eye-gaze technology for pupils in pre-formal bands, picture exchange communication systems and a symbols and sign programme, together with phonics for pupils accessing the formal pathway."

Staff are said to have 'dramatically improved post-16 destination opportunities'.

More students are accessing work-related opportunities, college, internships and further training.