A school for autistic children has been told that it needs to improve, according to education inspectors.

Thames Valley School, which is a school reserved for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), has recently been rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by OFSTED assessors in an inspection.

Although staff have been praised for effective safeguarding measures and creating a culture of respect at the school, they have been criticised for the quality of education and pupil behaviour and attitudes.

Particularly, the school has struggled with “serious behaviour incidents” which has caused anxiety for pupils and staff.

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There were also problems with teaching planning, which did not always reflect what pupils already know and understand what they can already do.

The school caters for ASD pupils aged 4-16.

The inspectors judged that the teachers in secondary education do not know enough about what is being covered in the primary section.

They did acknowledge that the school had faced disruption and difficulties due to closures because of the coronavirus pandemic and changes to leadership and staff.

The inspectors also acknowledged that pupils have gaps in their knowledge and suffered bullying prior to attending Thames Valley School.

Staff were praised for understanding ASD well, tackling bullying, and identifying the difference between friendship issues and deliberate bullying behaviour.

Amanda Makoka, Principal of the National Autistic Society Academies Trust’s Thames Valley School, said “We strive for our school to be good or outstanding.

“While it was disappointing to fall short of this overall in our last Ofsted report, we’re pleased that the inspectors recognised the dedicated and caring nature of our staff team and rated us as ‘Good’ in the areas of leadership and management and personal development.

“It’s this passion and dedication that’s at the heart of what we do at Thames Valley School.

“We had a difficult couple of years, with coronavirus and issues recruiting and retaining staff disrupting our progress getting the school to where we should be.

“But we’re in a much better place now, particularly after bringing in some brilliant new teachers in the past few months and rolling out training to support the wider team.

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“We also updated our plans in light of the inspectors’ feedback to improve in the areas they’ve identified and build on strengths, like our efforts to encourage reading.

“We have high ambitions for all our pupils and, as part of our improvement plans, recently introduced a new curriculum which Ofsted says ‘in time, should raise aspirations and prepare pupils well for life beyond school’.

“We will continue on this journey, ensuring that we are offering the best education possible for our children and young people.”

The school was previously rated ‘Good’ at inspections in 2016 and 2019.

The inspection was conducted in December last year and published on the OFTSED website in January.