Holloway special needs school The Courtyard turns around fortunes with latest Ofsted inspection

The Courtyard, a special needs school in Holloway Road, has been given a "good" Ofsted rating across

The Courtyard, a special needs school in Holloway Road, has been given a "good" Ofsted rating across the board. Credit: The Courtyard. - Credit: Archant

A headteacher is “incredibly pleased” after her Holloway Road special needs school successfully shrugged off a lingering negative Ofsted report.

The Courtyard, a branch of St Mary Magdalene Academy, has got rid of a “requires improvement” tag after receiving its first “good” Ofsted report across the board from its May inspection.

Opening in 2013, the school provides for 36 pupils aged 14 to 19 with autism and/or speech and communication difficulties, with most joining at the beginning of Year 9 or in the sixth form.

Picked out for particular praise in the report was the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare, which was marked out as being “outstanding”, while the school’s leadership was deemed to be “strong”.

Headteacher Deborah Shepherd told the Gazette: “It was a hugely positive report so everyone involved with the school is incredibly pleased. “The inspectors recognised that children come to us at a difficult stage due to what they have experienced at mainstream schools before joining us. We are often playing catch-up as they can be at a deficit, academically.

“It is great that the report picked up on the students’ confidence and maturity both in and out of the classroom, as well as their improvement as a whole.”

Governors at the school came under fire last year after a monitoring inspection found the body had not done enough to turn around the fortunes of The Courtyard around, after it received the “requires improvement” grade in 2015.

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The latest report said governors had been “galvanised into action” in the past year, but Mrs Shepherd insisted the “good” rating came as no surprise to her.

“It has been difficult to have the ‘requires improvement’ banner hanging over us because we didn’t feel it was a true reflection of all the positive things happening at the school,” she said. “The latest report was a confirmation of what we already knew.

“I am very thankful to all the students, staff and parents for helping make this happen.”

Inspectors noted that in order for the school to develop further it needs to enhance its students’ progress in writing and tostrengthen leadership by making further improvements to teaching and achievements in individual subjects.