EVERY school aims to equip children with skills for life but nowhere is that more evident than at Montacute School.

The special school academy, which educates 75 pupils between the ages of two and 19 years with physical, health and learning difficulties, prides itself on the individual care and attention each student receives.

Each learner is unique and staff work hard to find the best way to support them in their learning and to ensure they learn skills that will enable them to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

The school works closely with students’ families too and many parents speak in glowing terms of the school’s nurturing ethos and dedicated staff.

The school offers students a range of varied experiences, including creative projects, trips abroad and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Students are encouraged to integrate into the local community and regularly travel out of school on trips and learning opportunities.

Students are taught in classes of around eight, and teachers are supported by teaching assistants and there are speech therapists and nurses on hand to assist where necessary.

Where children show a particular talent, they are encouraged to pursue that and there have been instances where students have sat GCSE art exams.

Deputy head Ginny Brown said: “We have to prepare them as much as possible for the outside world. That’s really what we’re all about, right from day one.

“It’s building up their confidence and self-esteem and developing new skills that will serve them well in later life.”

And Jill Owen, who started work at the school as a new teacher in 1985 and has now returned as head, said she felt enormously privileged to return.

“For me, Montacute is much more than a place where children and young people learn,” she said. “It is a place where people care about each other.

“It’s full of fabulous, unique children and young people – that’s what draws us all here.”

There are exciting times ahead for the school, which is finally getting a much-needed multi-million pound rebuild.

A new school and swimming pool will be built north of the current building and the school will increase in size to 80 pupils.

“Finally our pupils will get the learning environment they deserve,” said Jill. “It will be wonderful when it is all finished.”

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  • Montacute School, Canford Heath Road, Poole. BH17 9NG
  • Telephone: 01202 693239
  • Email: office@montacute.poole.sch.uk
  • Age range: 2 to 19
  • Mixed
  • Number of pupils: 75

Ofsted report

Overall rating: Outstanding

Inspectors said: “The school is a safe and welcoming environment and behaviour and relationships are excellent. It is evident that pupils really enjoy coming to school and the activities provided.

“From starting school they make excellent progress in their learning.”

“The majority of pupils by the end of both Year 11 and post 16 have exceeded the targets set and are achieving more highly than suggested by the national data the school benchmarks itself against.

“The overall quality of teaching is excellent.”