“IT is a massive improvement.”

That was the view of a headteacher whose school has made an impressive leap up the Ofsted ratings.

Staff and pupils at St Francis Special School in Fareham are celebrating after inspectors graded it as good with an outstanding rating for the behaviour and safety of pupils.

This compares with a satisfactory rating just two years ago.

Headteacher Steve Hollinghurst believes the improvement is largely down to a focus on creativity.

Inspectors praised the atmosphere of the school as calm and welcoming and said the care and support for pupils was excellent.

The report said that staff showed they valued highly every pupil and gave them equal opportunities to succeed, so pupils achieve well in a good range of subjects.

It said teaching and learning has improved because senior staff were identifying weaknesses and providing good training.

“It is a massive improvement,” said Mr Hollinghurst, who has been in charge for the last four years.

“It’s a really great achievement for everybody, it’s particularly been possible because of the very creative curriculum we have had in place.”

To improve the school, which is in Patchway Drive, it needs to ensure changes to the curriculum, which had such a positive impact on achievement, were consistent across the school, and to make sure lessons move at a brisk pace and share teaching best practice.

Mr Hollinghurst said the school would strive to continue its improvement and look at the aspects highlighted.

The school, which caters for 86 pupils aged three to 19 with severe and complex learning difficulties, has used the arts and partnerships with different organisations to develop the curriculum and motivate the children to learn.

Professional artists and musicians have come in to carry out sessions, which the school said had proved really successful.

“It’s a multi-sensory approach, which is always effective for children with complex needs,” said Mr Hollinghurst.

“I’m very ambitious to get the best for the children because they deserve the best.”
Mr Hollinghurst said that he was particularly pleased with the outstanding rating for his pupils’ behaviour.

“What we try to do is get the children responsible for their own behaviour and to make decisions for themselves,” he added.

“I’m proud of them all, and as always they have proved that they are able to do things despite whatever their difficulties may be.”