Gibside School

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About Gibside School

Name Gibside School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Angela Whistler
Address Shipcote Lane, Gateshead, NE8 4DE
Phone Number 01914336900
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 2-11
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 181
Local Authority Gateshead
Highlights from Latest Inspection


Gibside School continues to be an outstanding school.

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils thrive at Gibside School. They enjoy coming to this friendly and inspirational school. Leaders have the highest expectations and an unrelenting ambition for the pupils in their care.

Leaders have designed a curriculum that puts no ceiling on pupils' success. Pupils develop communication skills that help them to flourish. They are excited to share their achievements.

Leaders ensure that all pupils have a 'voice'. Pupils are taught a range of communication tools developed to meet their individual needs. As a result, pupils are able to express themselves and make choices, both school and beyond.

One parent's comment, representing the views of many, stated, 'The school is an amazing place. They make sure that our child is educated in a way they can cope with, considering their complex mental and physical needs.' Inspectors agree.

Pupils' behaviour is excellent. The school environment is calm and welcoming. Leaders have worked to establish clear routines.

These help to minimise pupils' anxiety. For example, pupils sing the 'transition song' when moving around the corridors. Pupils who have difficulty managing their emotions are quickly helped by skilled staff.

Bullying is rare. Pupils know that adults will deal with any bullying or unkind behaviour. As a consequence, pupils feel safe at school.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Leaders have designed a highly effective and bespoke curriculum for each pupil. They give careful consideration to pupils' education, health and care plans (EHC plan). Leaders have planned the curriculum in small steps to develop independence and communication as well as subject knowledge.

Teachers use pupils' EHC plan targets to expertly craft lessons.

Children start to learn communication methods as soon as they start the Nursery Year.Staff use a range of strategies to help pupils communicate.

For example, some children learn a picture-based communication system and other children begin to learn to read using phonics. Leaders have established a flexible curriculum that is adapted to meet individual pupils' needs. For example, staff include a popular visual signing system in reading lessons to support some pupils to correctly say sounds.

As pupils develop their communication strategies, their learning gathers pace. As a result, some pupils quickly learn to read fluently and confidently. They use expression and emotion when reading.

Pupils are keen to share books and read to adults.

Leaders ensure a safe and effective learning environment for all pupils. Morning and afternoon sessions start with circle time to greet and settle pupils.

This helps them to be ready for learning. Activities in lessons are multi-sensory, which stimulates pupils' curiosity. For example, in mathematics, pupils were seen fully engaged in counting to five by singing songs and using numbers that glowed in vivid colours.

Staff know their pupils well. They know when a pupil is ready for more challenge and when it is time to move on or change approach. Pupils are supported effectively and highly engaged in learning, which helps them to achieve well.

Leaders have developed a partnership with a local primary school. Some pupils attend lessons in this school to prepare them for the next stage of their education. These pupils experience activities such as team sports.

For example, pupils from Gibside play football matches as part of the primary school's team at lunchtime. This has inspired some pupils to join a community football team outside of school.

Leaders have established effective systems to improve the attendance of some pupils.

Leaders work with a range of health care professionals to this end. For example, pupils can access physiotherapy and medical care in school so that they do not need to take time out of school to attend appointments.

Leaders offer an impressive range of opportunities to develop pupils' social skills.

This prepares them for experiences outside school. For example, there is a school council for pupils to debate questions about the school design and the range of extra-curricular activities available. This is accessible to all pupils through communication boards and smart technology.

Pupils can take part in a wide range of activities such as boccia, yoga, gymnastics, cycling, fishing and horse-riding.

Governors and school leaders are conscious of the workload of staff. Staff feel supported and understood.

They feel that their well-being is a priority for leaders. Governors have an accurate view of the effectiveness of the school. Leaders encourage staff to work with teachers in other settings to better understand pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

There is a strong safeguarding culture throughout the school. Staff are well trained.

They know their pupils exceptionally well. They are vigilant for indications that pupils could be at risk of harm, especially those that are unable to communicate easily. Staff report concerns as soon as they spot them.

Leaders diligently follow up on any issues.

Safeguarding is woven into the curriculum. Governors and leaders review safeguarding arrangements.

Leaders adapt staff's training and the pupils' curriculum to build prevention and awareness of current safeguarding issues. Pupils use real-life examples to learn about the risks they might face online and outside school.


When we have judged a school to be outstanding, we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains outstanding.

This is called a section 8 inspection of a good or outstanding school, because it is carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005. We do not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection. However, if we find evidence that a school would now receive a higher or lower grade, then the next inspection will be a section 5 inspection.

Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the section 8 inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will deem the section 8 inspection as a section 5 inspection immediately.

This is the second section 8 inspection since we judged the school to be outstanding in October 2012.

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