Hatton Special School is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Find out how Headteacher Adrienne Wright depends on her governing board for the school’s continued success.

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“Hatton Special School is a large primary maintained special school in outer London with 191 pupils with complex needs. We had our last Ofsted inspection 12 months ago and were judged to remain outstanding. The majority of our pupils have autism, but we also have pupils with a wide variety of needs. The complexity of our pupils’ needs is increasing year on year.

We have 24 classes on site plus an additional two satellite classes based in local mainstream primary schools. We’re an outward facing school, working closely with other schools in the borough of Redbridge and with schools across London – through the Autism Schools Network and SSAT.

The school’s success is dependent on the governing board’s support. When it works well, the partnership between governors and senior leaders sets the strategic vision and direction for the school. Governors also provide the challenge and support the headteacher needs.

A strong governing board means school leaders are held accountable for the decisions they make. The governors can make sure public money is well spent and contributes to the progress and outcomes of all the pupils.

Hatton Special School, like many schools, faces a lot of challenges.

The building is old and costs a lot of money to maintain. It’s slow progress working on plans for a new building with the local authority. We have a lack of funding due to pressure on the High Needs Block, and we’re working on curriculum development in light of the new Ofsted framework. Then recruitment for all levels and roles is a constant challenge, especially at the moment with both deputy heads going on maternity leave next term. Good school governors help us navigate these challenges and focus on providing the best education we can.

Being a school governor in a special school is a unique opportunity. You can make a difference to some of the most vulnerable children in the local community, who are often isolated and can face discrimination. Their education sets them on a pathway for their future into adulthood – so every decision governors make and every question they ask makes a difference to children’s lives, and their families.”