Queensmill Special School Gets Glowing Report from Ofsted

Inspector says: " Rarely does one go into a school as good as this one"

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Queensmill School in Shepherd's Bush

Jude Ragan with pupils

Queensmill School

Queensmill School Ofsted Report

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For the third time in a row, the Queensmill special school for children with autism aged two to 19 has gained an "outstanding" inspection report from Ofsted.

"One rarely goes into a school as good as this one," said the Ofsted inspector, leading to tears of joy from Queensmill headteacher Jude Ragan.

Ofsted Report on Queensmill School

This year’s achievement was even more poignant for Jude as it took place at their new specially-designed site in Askham Road, Shepherds Bush, following a £11 million council-funded project – and because it’s her final year as headteacher before retirement.

After relocating from Fulham, the high-tech school was designed to meet the needs of Queensmill’s children. It has spacious classrooms, a garden, playground, wet-room and state-of-the-art interactive sensory room. It also allows some students to attend an extended school day and offers overnight respite for families.

“The new school is heavenly," says Jude. " We started the term sharing the building with the builders, but the children could already sense how great a space it was going to be for them."

One of the most progressive elements of the building is that is calm, quiet and easy to navigate for autistic pupils. The inspectors noted this, and said: "The accommodation is outstanding. The new school decor, for example, minimises unwanted distractions of noise and colour and this contributes very well to the relaxed environment in which the pupils learn."

Jude, who qualified as a teacher in 1970, lives in Chelsea. When she arrived at Queensmill in 2005, the school had about 37 pupils. Today, the school has 152 children drawing from H&F as well as neighbouring boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. Jude was awarded the Order of the British Empire by The Queen in 2011 for her services to for her work in special education.

Next year, H&F Council has agreed to fund a one-year pilot school project for 19-25 year olds to expand the offer of education and support to help meet the needs of young people with autism.

" I’ve always tried to make sure we are an outstanding school, regardless of our size,” Jude adds. "I have a great team and we demand that our teachers love our children. If they can’t do that, they must go."

Additionally, Queensmill runs two units in local mainstream schools: a 30-place unit at Fulham Primary School, now in its third year, and a new unit based in Fulham College Boys with eight places in this, its first year.

Class numbers are small, generally no more than eight children in a class with one teacher and at least three support staff. Therapists support all classes.

School governor and Queensmill parent Fiona Mylchreest reacted to the school’s report by saying: I am not surprised, but very proud. Well done everyone and well done our amazing, different and exceptional children!"

November 28, 2014