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Praise for residential provision at Norfolk special school where children enjoy staying 'immensely'

Sidestrand Hall School's residential provision has been rated good. Headteacher Sarah Young. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Sidestrand Hall School's residential provision has been rated good. Headteacher Sarah Young. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Archant Norfolk 2015

Residential provision at a Norfolk special school - where children enjoy staying "immensely" - has been praised by a watchdog.

Sidestrand Hall School, near Cromer, was given a good rating for its residential provision by Ofsted after a visit in January.

It is a fall from its previous rating of outstanding, which was awarded last February.

But inspectors painted a rosy picture of life at the school, and said: “The children and young people make progress in all areas of their development. They enjoy their stays in the residential provision immensely.”

They said the residential provision worked “cohesively” with the school to support development and removed “any barriers to learning”.

“The good rapport between the children and young people and the staff is evident,” inspectors noted.

“The children and young people are relaxed and at ease with the staff. The staff provide excellent role models.”

At the time of the inspection, there were 27 residential pupils, and 172 pupils on the school roll in total.

Residential Ofsted visits take place once a year, compared to ones assessing a school’s education, which are, roughly, every three or four.

The watchdog said staff provide “security, stability and consistent support to the children and young people while they are away from home”.

While inspectors said risks are “managed effectively”, they cited an example of a serious child protection concern not being reported as required, which did not “consider the potential impact on the child”.

But they said response to an incident in which a child managed to briefly leave the school, by climbing two gates, was “reflective” and showed that “lessons have been learned”.

Headteacher Sarah Young, who has been at the school for 15 years, said she was pleased with the overall result, and that verbal feedback from Ofsted, including that given to the watchdog by parents, had been positive.

She said praise given to the school’s staff - who were described as “exceptionally skilled” - was brilliant, but not a surprise.

“We are very lucky because we have got very good staff that stay with us, and they just know the children inside out. They are just amazing - I feel so lucky to have them,” she said.

The school educates children with complex needs, and offers residential provision during term time to help pupils develop independence and social skills.

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