RACHEL Weldon has only been head of Winchelsea since January but she is already implementing big changes.

Just last year the special school was graded as “requires improvement” by government inspectors, and improving things is exactly what she intends to do.

With just 104 pupils and a dedicated staff, Winchelsea has the potential to receive more flattering Ofsted judgements.

And much is under way to ensure it does so in the future.

Life skills provision is at the top of the agenda, with staff determined that pupils will lead full and happy lives both at school and after they leave.

“Our pupils need to know how to keep themselves safe and clean and how to cook and look after themselves,” said Mrs Weldon.

“Their social skills also need to be good and we are currently in the process of creating a life skills curriculum.”

Pupils follow the national curriculum, which is tailored to meet the needs of each child, and teaching and learning is at the heart of everything they do.

But just as important is the wealth of therapy support available at the Guernsey Road, Poole school.

Pupils already benefit from physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and behaviour support and Mrs Weldon hopes all such therapy will soon take place in the classroom so learning is not disrupted.

Pupils with moderate learning difficulties travel to the school from all over Poole with some children from Bournemouth and Dorset council areas also on roll.

There are plans to extend the school to provide a sixth form, meaning pupils will not be forced to move on when they are 16.

“Some of them are just not ready to go,” said Mrs Weldon.

“We hope our sixth form will offer a range of vocational courses.”

Activities are plentiful and, on the day we visited, pupils were preparing for a trip to a party in a Bournemouth hotel.

Many are involved in residential trips and enjoy a variety of sports.


Winchelsea School, Guernsey Road, Parkstone, Poole, BH12 4LL.

Telephone: 01202 746240

Mixed Aged range: 4-16

Number of children: 105

Head teacher: Rachel Weldon

Ofsted report:

Overall grade: Requires improvement A monitoring inspection was carried out in July 2013. A report from the inspectors said: “It is clear that you have continued to build the structures and systems necessary to ensure that teaching and learning are consistently good.

“You have taken robust decisions and it is clear that there is strong vision and teamwork in place to drive improvement.

“Senior leaders and governors are taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the inspection.”