AN ‘exceptional’ special school in Winsford where pupils feel ‘valued and empowered’ is celebrating after Ofsted rated it Outstanding.

Inspectors from the education watchdog visited Hebden Green Community School on March 12 and 13, where they were struck by the school’s ‘caring and harmonious’ atmosphere.

Hebden Green is one of only a handful of similar schools in the borough, where students, all aged between two and 19, have complex special needs. 

In the first whole-school, full inspection since July 2014, the school was awarded Ofsted’s highest possible rating, which head teacher, Helen Ashley, described as ‘a moment she will never forget’.

She added: “This report is a culmination of so many people’s and so many years' dedication, support, and love. 

“It’s not possible to truly sum up in words what a very special place Hebden Green is, but this report comes close. 

“It’s an honour and a privilege to lead our amazing school and to watch Team Hebden grow from strength to strength. Every day the team ensures our pupils get the very best.

"We are nothing without each other, and I want to take this opportunity to thank our pupils, our staff, our governors, our families, and our incredible community, especially those in Winsford, who support us and work together with us to ensure Hebden Green continues to deliver the very best in specialist education. 

“I could not be prouder of you all. 

“I don’t need Ofsted to tell us how amazing we are, but to be externally audited and recognised as delivering an exceptional provision, to the most incredible children I know, will be a moment I will never forget.”

Ofsted lead inspector, Ahmed Marikar, said in the report: “Hebden Green is a happy, caring, and harmonious community where pupils feel safe.

“The school prepares pupils, all of whom have complex special educational needs and/or disabilities, exceptionally well for their forthcoming journeys.

“The school has high expectations of what pupils can achieve. They learn exceptionally well.

“Staff forge strong and trusting relationships with pupils based on an acute understanding of their individual needs. This supports pupils to develop their self-regulation skills and their independence particularly well.

"Expert staff are sensitive and skilled in helping pupils to manage their own behaviour and emotions. Pupils develop their self-care skills well. For example, they settle quickly into routine tasks and use equipment safely.

“Pupils’ opinions are not only heard; they are cherished. For example, the school council influences the work of the school, such as by helping to improve the facilities in the dining hall.

“Pupils embrace a range of activities, such as swimming and football. These help to nurture pupils’ confidence and their physical endurance."