AN INDEPENDENT school for children with autism where annual fees for boarders are more than £150,000 a year has been told it is not up to standard.

Ofsted visited Grateley House School, in Pond Lane, Andover on July 9 and 10 for a school and residential progress monitoring inspection, after it was graded as ‘requires improvement’ in June last year.

A report, published on September 11, said the school does not meet all of the independent school standards or the national minimum standards for residential provision.

The inspector found that the proprietor ensured that safeguarding and promotion of pupil welfare was “strong”, and said: “Leaders and teaching staff manage the behaviour of pupils in the school well. Staff are aware of key policies and are trained appropriately, including in the use of de-escalation techniques.”

The report added: “Pupils who sometimes struggle to stay in classrooms have different options open to them and are able to make choices when required. This includes the use of the ‘student services’ classroom, which is manned at all times by suitably trained and experienced staff. As a result, challenging behaviour is managed well, disruptions to learning are minimised and pupils are spending much less time outside of classrooms than they did in the past.”

Records showed attendance had improved “significantly” since the last inspection, with absence “reduced to a more acceptable level”.

Some aspects of the residential provision were found to not meet independent school standards.

The education watchdog found that impact risk assessments are now in place for residential pupils, providing details of the risks associated with behaviour.

However, the inspector found these do not identify measures to “reduce and mitigate the identified risk” resulting in this standard remaining unmet.

The report said: “…the evidence demonstrates that it is not clear that appropriate action is taken to reduce risks that are identified.”

Ofsted noted that the school’s action plan to address the issues identified in the last inspection was assessed as “unacceptable” by the Department for Education. However, it added: “Leaders’ actions to improve key aspects of the educational provision have been successful. Development planning focuses on the right things. As a result, the quality of education at the school is improving.”

The report said that staff vacancies remain an “ongoing issue in the residential provision”, adding: “Managers are proactive in continuing to recruit new staff but the vacancy rate for residential support staff remains high. Currently, staff shortages are covered by overtime, agency staff and teaching assistants from the school. Consequently, the quality of care is not compromised.”

The independent residential special school for pupils, usually in the average or higher-ability range, who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, has 58 children on its roll.

Pupils are usually placed at the school by the local authority, with the majority being residential.

Grateley House works in partnership with River Bourne Community Farm and has links with post-16 providers including Andover College, Sparsholt College and Peter Symonds College.

A school spokesperson said: “Grateley House School has a reputation for providing high quality education and care to students with Asperger’s Syndrome and associated complex needs. We are pleased that progress made at the school is recognised in this report, we have a clear plan to address the concerns highlighted by the inspectors.”