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Mum speaks out against inadequate Ofsted rating describing school as her son’s “happy place”

PUBLISHED: 11:36 25 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:44 25 February 2018

Sonnie Ferrari, five, who attends the Warren School in Lowestoft. Picture: Vickie Coakley.

Sonnie Ferrari, five, who attends the Warren School in Lowestoft. Picture: Vickie Coakley.

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The mother of a five-year-old boy has spoken out against the Ofsted rating given to her son’s school, describing it as “his happy place.”

Warren School has been judged inadequate after education watchdog Ofsted's latest inspection. Picture: Archant LibraryWarren School has been judged inadequate after education watchdog Ofsted's latest inspection. Picture: Archant Library

In a report published last week, Ofsted placed the Warren School in Lowestoft in special measures after it was rated inadequate for its inconsistent quality of teaching and a lack of opportunity for pupils to fulfil their potential.

However Vickie Coakley, 38, has hit out at the rating given to the special school, which caters for pupils from three to 19-years-old, saying it is the only place her son Sonnie feels safe.

Miss Coakley’s son has a rare type of epilepsy, global development delay, autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.

She said: “The school has been absolutely amazing. In the times I was coming to terms with my son’s diagnosis, I felt Warren not only worked with my son but they worked with me as well.

Vickie Coaklet with her son Sonnie, five, who attends the Warren School in Lowestoft. Picture: Vickie Coakley.Vickie Coaklet with her son Sonnie, five, who attends the Warren School in Lowestoft. Picture: Vickie Coakley.

“I’m a protective mum, I don’t like leaving Sonnie, but the staff there go above and beyond and it’s hard to put into words how amazing they are.

“I always call it my happy place, I walk in there and I don’t feel odd, and it’s my boy’s happy place as well.

“As long as our children are happy and safe that’s what matters. I know that Sonnie is not going to develop at the speed that a neurotypical child will, so for Ofsted to rate it like that it feels like they are forcing our children to speed up and reach targets when we are accepting that our children are not going to reach those targets.

“The rapport between parents and teachers is outstanding and their hard work isn’t something you can put down in data for Ofsted.”

During the inspection, officers found the school was inadequate in four and good in two of the six categories on which it is assessed.

The report said the quality of teaching standards had deteriorated since the previous inspection in 2012 - when the school was rated good - while a lack of planning meant tasks “do not stretch pupils enough”.

Commenting on Facebook, another parent said: “My daughter attends this school and has done for the last five years. I can’t fault it, the staff are truly amazing and bend over backwards to support the children. My daughter has very complex needs and I don’t know what I would do without the support of the staff.”

Another said: “My child goes here and I can honestly say it is the happiest, most friendly school. He is happy, safe, well looked after and I know if he becomes unwell the staff are more than competent at what they do.”

In response to the report, a school spokesman said: “We operate a person-centred approach and have worked hard to develop and introduce new curriculum and assessment pathways; we’re confident these developments are leading to appropriate challenge and support for all learners.”

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