Surrey school turns around Ofsted rating praised for 'polite and joyful' students

Three students pose together for the photo
-Credit: (Image: Orpheus)

A school in Surrey has made a major turnaround - going from Requires Improvement by Ofsted to 'Outstanding'. Orpheus Centre, in Godstone,has now been placed in the nations top 10 per cent best specialist schools for students with disabilities.

The school has come a long way since its first inspection in 2007, where it required improvement. Ofsted inspectors said the students were always polite and "aspire to make the world an inclusive and joyful place.”

The school takes students aged between 18 and 25, with a passion for learning, and the arts and currently has 64 attendees and 21 students who live there.

First established in 1998, the charity college was set up by Sir Richard Stilgoe for children to write and perform music. Today, students have many opportunities to take part in, particularly the arts. Many have performed at the London Coliseum, Windsor Castle and Sadler’s Wells.

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The glowing report reads: “From the start of their time at the college, learners thrive due to the exceptionally well-planned and implemented transition activities that prepare them well to move from school to college. Learners settle into the very supportive setting quickly and benefit significantly from staff who promote age-appropriate behaviours and independence.”

Additionally, the school was praised for polite and inclusive students, the report said: “They greatly enjoy their learning and become increasingly bold, inclusive and resilient. All learners are polite, encouraging and helpful to each other and staff during their lessons, on work experience and in their free time. They aspire to make the world an inclusive and joyful place.”

Events are hosted at the school with employers to help raise awareness on employing students with disabilities in the arts industry. It helps industry reach diversity goals, and improves conditions for disabled employees.

Staff are highly skilled in their subjects, and tailor their classes to student’s individual learning needs, Ofsted said. The report states that students make outstanding progress.

Core skills like English and maths are also at the heart of the curriculum, alongside employability skills. Students also receive technical training to help them, for example, putting together a stage performance, to practice performance, stage management and digital skills which they would need in real-life scenarios.

Orpheus Principal Chloe Smith said: “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff, students, supporters and our entire college community. Our mission has always been to empower the students to achieve their full potential, and this Outstanding rating confirms that we are succeeding in our goals.”

CEO for Orpheus, Dr Rachel Black, said: “Although times have thankfully moved on and opportunities for disabled people are greater now, we’re not there yet. Society still places too many obstacles in the way of finding a job and living the life they want for many people. We enable Orpheus students to develop their independence and confidence and learn the skills they need to live their best lives.

“With these brilliant young people, we are working to influence society to remove the obstacles in their paths so that they can plan for a brighter future. We want to grow to welcome even more learning disabled students in the future and rise to the challenge of welcoming more diverse cohorts in the years to come. ”

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