Family & Education

Ofsted praise for 'unique' special school Side by Side

Inspectors find a calm and caring atmosphere at school which runs a nursery for both mainstream and special needs children


Ofsted has given a ringing endorsement to Side by Side, the Strictly Orthodox special school in Hackney, rating it good in every category.

Inspectors found a “calm, caring and pupil-centred ethos” throughout the school,with the behaviour of pupils  outstanding and a multi-disciplinary staff which “cared deeply” about them.

While Side by Side takes pupils from two to 19, it includes an integrated nursery where mainstream children learn alongside those with special needs or disabilities.

Ofsted praised headteacher Gerald Lebrett, who “leads this unique school for pupils who have a wide range of complex needs with passion and drive”.

Pupils loved their school and were eager to show inspectors their achievements.

The well-designed curriculum was “enhanced by trips such as recent visits to museums and a wildlife reserve and twice-weekly work-experience placements for the most able pupils,” Ofsted said.

The ablest pupils, usually in the 15 to 19 age group, have “achieved bronze accreditation in personal development and are excited and ambitious to achieve silver and gold. As part of their timetable, pupils have created a library from scratch, which they manage as a team on a weekly basis.”

The focus on Jewish education was balanced well with secular studies.

Mr Lebrett said, “Our school is a leader in the education of children with special needs and I am thrilled to be at the helm of this remarkable school community”.

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