A SPECIAL school is helping pupils climb new heights according to its latest Ofsted report. Bensham Manor, in Thornton Heath, has moved from 'satisfactory' to 'good' following an inspection in March. Ofsted was particularly impressed with standards of behaviour which were described in the report published today (Monday) as 'outstanding'. Head teacher Phil Poulton told the Advertiser: "The school has been on a bit of a journey for the last few years but we seem to be coming out of it really strong." Each of Bensham Manor's 164 pupils, aged 11 to 16, has a statement of special educational needs. Around 40 per cent have moderate learning difficulties, with an increasing number who are autistic. Ofsted praised levels of attainment across the school, including those on the autistic spectrum, linked to teaching which consistently reaches the same level. Students were found to be making good progress in developing skills in literacy and numeracy, nurtured by well-planned lessons which feature a wide range of activities. Encouragingly Bensham Manor's sixth form has also been praised for "preparing students well for life beyond the school". Ofsted were particularly impressed by the standard of behaviour at the school. "Staff have a caring and supportive approach that enables students to feel safe, learn social skills and develop self-confidence," the report explained. The education watchdog said the passionate leadership of head teacher Phil Poulton is "driving rapid improvement in both learning and personal development". "I felt we were doing really well because we had built up our exam results both in 2011 to 2012," said Mr Poulton. "It's about the distance travelled. They come in at a low level and make very good progress. "Most of our children come from our sister school St Nicholas but those that don't can find the transition difficult. I think we've become a lot better at helping them to adjust. "I'm also really pleased our autistic provision has been recognised as really strong, that our middle managers have really stepped up and we now have fantastic governors who are genuinely interested in the kids." The stats make for impressive reading. Bensham Manor's attendance is 93 per cent, 90 per cent of its lessons are judged to be good or better and, in the past three years, every pupil who has left the school has gone on to a college course or post-16 provision. In order to become an outstanding school, Bensham Manor's teachers have to do more to understand how pupils perform in comparison with others elsewhere in the country and improve the standard of ICT lessons. Parent Frances Stanley, whose daughter is currently in Year 8, said: "I think the report is quite good. She has made good progress and enjoys going to school."
More Pages to Explore .....