Special needs school redefine ‘outstanding’

Frank Wise School, Banbury, outstanding Ofsted report. 3rd Family Group and staff, with deputy head, Lara Hughes, left. NNL-190406-110840009
Frank Wise School, Banbury, outstanding Ofsted report. 3rd Family Group and staff, with deputy head, Lara Hughes, left. NNL-190406-110840009

In a show of excellence few achieve, Banbury’s Frank Wise School has been classified by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ for the fourth consecutive time.

Spanning 13 years, from 2006 until March of this year, the government’s Office for Standards in Education has awarded the Hornbeam Close special needs school its highest rating.

During that time there have been three different head teachers, including the current joint head-teachership of Heidi Dennison and Simon Knight, which makes the continuity of excellence even more noteworthy,

Lara Hughes, deputy head teacher, said: “The thing that Ofsted acknowledged was that we all work together as a team.

“Heidi and Simon recognise that everything we do is a collaboration, nothing is imposed, it’s not top down, we decide as a whole team what we will change.”

The approach the school has to individualising each student’s need is another foundation the record of excellence has been built upon.

Lara said: “We are an increasingly unique special school in that we teach by age group and that value, that everyone is equal, is the stalwart of this school.

“It’s not about here’s your label and we’ll do it in this way, it’s very much about here’s an individual, this is your peer group and that’s what drives everything forward.

“We don’t jump on to bandwagons of this is the new thing.”

The school is not, however, resting on its laurels and was already in the process of defining its future when the inspection was announced.

Lara said: “There’s been significant changes that have happened this year. The school continues to develop and grow.

“The day the inspectors arrived we were in the process of writing our three year development plan, which everybody, including governors, families and schools that we work with gets to write ‘these are what we would like you to do within the next three years.’

“We then work together as a team and say ‘actually, that is achievable.’

Lara added: “We don’t think as we are outstanding that’s it and stop.”

The staff celebrated their achievement with cup cakes and sparkling water.