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Praise for deaf school

The Edinburgh-based national school for the deaf which went through turbulent times amid bullying allegations a few years ago and received a damning HMI report has been praised for its high expectations of pupils and its "very effective leadership".

Janet Allan, principal of Donaldson's College, says the commendation in a joint report this week from HMI and the Care Commission reflects the hard work of staff in rebuilding the school after its reputation was seriously undermined following an inspection in 1998 - the first in more than 15 years.

Inspectors severely criticised David Scott, the then principal, for "important weaknesses" in his management style and practice. Mr Scott and two other members of staff were suspended following abuse claims by pupils.

He subsequently resigned and was given an absolute discharge in the sheriff court four years ago despite being convicted of assaulting a pupil.

By contrast, the college, which had 75 pupils from 18 Scottish authorities at the time of the latest inspection, is now said to have very good relationships between staff and pupils. "Children felt safe and supported," the report states. Staff were very responsive to any concerns about bullying.

The inspection heaped high praise on the college's senior management who were said to work well together to provide very good leadership and direction. As a result, "significant improvements in the quality of education and care had been achieved".

The report concludes: "The school provided a safe and stimulating environment for children and young people, and made very good provision for their educational and communication needs.

"It provided its deaf pupils with a positive identity, and prepared them well for the future. It had successfully broadened the range of pupils to include hearing pupils with communication difficulties at the early stages.

The school is well-placed to build on recent improvements."

Among these tasks, the management is urged to continue working with staff "to ensure that they feel valued and that their views are heard".

Inspectors had found that a small number felt their training was insufficient to meet the range of pupil needs.

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