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Special praise for a very special school

Clippens School in Linwood, a special school for 5-18s, has received the highest ratings of any school in any sector since HMIE adopted its six-point quality scale.

The school, which teaches youngsters with complex learning difficulties, sensory impairments, physical disabilities and autism, received 10 excellent grades and six very goods out of a possible 16 - better than the HMIE score card for St Andrew's Secondary in Glasgow, which also hit the headlines this week (page four).

Clippens, which currently has a roll of 58, is described as providing "an excellent educational experience for its pupils within an inclusive learning environment".

Inspectors stated: "Pupils were making very good progress in their learning within a stimulating and challenging curriculum. They experienced a range of innovative and creative learning experiences and were encouraged to be active participants in the learning process. Staff had very high expectations of pupils."

The quality of leadership was judged excellent, with particular praise given to Olwynne Clark, the headteacher, who was described as "an inspirational leader, highly respected by parents, pupils and staff and the wider community".

Mrs Clark was also commended for being highly supportive of staff and their professional development. She helped to "motivate and empower" them, and continued to challenge them to improve.

Staff from senior management down were praised for their commitment and skills, including support staff whose attention to pupils' personal intimate care respected their rights to dignity and privacy. The quality of personal and social education was described as excellent, with pupils demonstrating "a very sound understanding of daily routines" and developing confidence, independence and self-esteem.

"At all stages, pupils were acquiring essential skills in forming relationships and caring for others, appropriate social behaviour and skills in looking after themselves," the report said.

Inspectors said that the school had identified the "very best practice across the UK and used this to develop a framework for the curriculum which very effectively met the needs of all pupils".

Their report continued: "Particular needs of individual pupils were met by providing motivating multisensory experiences and aromatherapy. Written guidance on courses was very clear and, along with the support of curriculum co-ordinators, ensured that teachers provided appropriate breadth, balance and progression in pupils' learning.

"Excellent links with local schools, nurseries and colleges of further education provided pupils with broad curricular experiences such as technology. At all stages, staff used ICT such as interactive screens and switches to motivate pupils and enhance learning."

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