In January 1993, Quince Tree School, for pupils with severe learning difficulties, was a pilot school for the new Office for Standards in Education inspection process. Despite a good report, which commended staff on their teaching, the management structure and the high achievements and behaviour of many pupils, the school wrote to you with our concerns that neither the framework nor the inspectors had considered the needs of pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). This left the school feeling angered that the successes of these pupils were devalued.
Three years on, Quince Tree has been inspected by a full OFSTED team from Capital Inspections, London, led by Denise Lynne, registered inspector, and we feel we need to address this situation and put the balance right. We have found the whole inspection process, from the initial visit, to receiving the final document, a two-way positive process.
This does not mean that it was stress free - inspections never can be, it was rigorous, demanding and challenging for staff and governors - but at the same time the inspectors were professional, knowledgeable and sensitive to all the pupils' needs and development, particularly those with PMLD. This meant that everyone felt valued.
To our colleagues in other special schools about to be OFSTEDed, we say: "Take heart. The process can be professionally exhilarating and enhance your school development. May your team be as professional as ours."
VICTORIA VERNON, headteacher AE BIRD, deputy headteacher Quince Tree School.