The Cavendish School - Autism School in Cambridgeshire

Pupils “flourish” at Cambridgeshire’s first state-maintained special autism school, says Ofsted

The co-educational school, which opened in September 2021, supports 100 autistic pupils using a holistic approach to ‘enable the self’. As one of three schools collaborating with the International Baccalaureate (IB) to develop and deliver the first IB programmes tailored to the needs of autistic pupils, it offers the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to pupils in Year 3 to Year 8, while its Year 9 pupils undertake a ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ year before studying for a suite of qualifications including GCSEs in Year 10.

Published on Friday 3 May, the report highlighted the individualised approach to pupils’ learning that incorporates specific Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) targets into each pupil’s daily timetable, enabling them to make “significant academic and personal progress within a short period of time”. As well as academic and personal progress, the report noted that pupils are “being well prepared for adult life in modern Britain”, crediting the “excellent career advice” and opportunities to develop life skills such as applying for “mini jobs” in school.

During their visit, the inspector praised the “uniquely individualised togetherness” of the school’s learning community, reporting that “everybody feels accepted for who they are”.

Commenting on Ofsted’s report, Head of School, Stephanie Smith, said: “It has been a real pleasure to lead The Cavendish School from its inception to this milestone in our journey. The report highlights and celebrates the excellent provision that I see across the school every day, and this is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, pupils, and whole school community.

“I am very proud to be the Head of such an inspiring and unique school, and am so pleased that the transformative impact that our approach has had on so many of our pupils’ educational experiences has been recognised so clearly. My thanks go to all members of staff, as well as our pupils, parents, and the wider team at Eastern Learning Alliance (ELA) who have provided invaluable support from the outset.”

An ELA spokesperson said: “The Cavendish School and the Eastern Learning Alliance were delighted to receive a finalised Ofsted report following the recent inspection which rightly recognises all the fantastic work that goes on at the school day to day. Our congratulations go to Stephanie Smith, Victoria Hearn, and the whole team at the school for their work in ensuring exceptional provision for their pupils. It is fantastic that the inspectors recognised the “relentless determination” the staff have for pupils to succeed, both in terms of academic outcomes and broader personal development.

“The vision for The Cavendish School has always been to ensure excellent academic and pastoral provision for autistic pupils, many of whom have experienced significant educational disruption prior to joining the school. The report’s comments regarding the school often being “the first positive school experience that pupils have”, emphatic recognition that “everyone is accepted for who they are”, and findings regarding pupils making “significant academic and social progress within a short period of time”, speak to the fact that this vision has been realised by the school’s team.”

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