A MENTAL health school described as a "sanctuary" with an “exceptional curriculum” and “highly trained staff” has been lauded in a top report from watchdogs.

The St Aubyn Centre Education Department, in Colchester, has maintained its ‘outstanding’ rating following a new report from Ofsted.

Having opened 11 years ago, the facility provides services for young people experiencing a range of mental health difficulties, alongside their families.

The Therapeutic Education Department is situated within the St Aubyn Centre Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit.

Gazette: The St Aubyn Centre Education Department in ColchesterThe St Aubyn Centre Education Department in Colchester (Image: N/A)

Following their visit, inspectors Damian Loneragan and Kathryn Herlock showered the school with praise, giving glowing comments for its staff, support for pupils, curriculum and more.

The report said: “St Aubyn Centre Education Department is a sanctuary for pupils who are experiencing difficult times.

“Staff work effectively to break down the barriers to learning that pupils face in their daily lives.

“Adults carefully craft learning experiences around what works best for individual pupils.

“Pupils’ attitudes and behaviours toward the education team are exemplary.

“Staff take great care and attention to understand pupils’ significant needs and backgrounds.”

Inspectors also noted how pupils’ mental health and well-being is a “key priority” for the “well-trained” staff, and that they know pupils’ special educational needs and/or disabilities “exceptionally well”.

The report described the school’s curriculum as “exceptional”, and said the management committee knows the school “very well”.

“Regular information is shared between the school, families and the St Aubyn Centre”, it added.

Gazette: Executive headteacher Simon TurnnidgeExecutive headteacher Simon Turnnidge (Image: N/A)

Executive headteacher Simon Turnnidge said the ‘outstanding’ judgement is a “public endorsement of the hard work, energy, commitment and team spirit of" students, teachers, support staff, governors, parents, carers and medical team.

He continued: “We are incredibly pleased the inspectors captured the very essence of our school and we could not be prouder.

“I’m privileged to lead a team of incredible people, who work selflessly and tirelessly with young people, their families and professional support networks.”

Students at the school were also full of praise for the unit.

“It helps us feel supported in a school environment whilst I’ve not been able to attend mainstream education,” one said.

Another added: “The school are very supportive when we feel unable to engage fully in our education and help understand our needs.”