STAFF and pupils at a Blackburn special school on the verge of being deemed outstanding have been praised following an inspection.

Ofsted inspectors visited Crosshill Special School in Haslingden Road last month and found the school is still considered good.

And reporting inspector Mark Quinn said strong practice and improvement means the school is moving towards being outstanding - the highest possible rating a school can get.

In a letter to executive headteacher Diane Atkinson, Mr Quinn said: "The leadership team has maintained the good quality of education in the school since the last inspection [in July 2014].

"There are many new structures in place and much higher expectations of staff and pupils than previously, which contribute to the greatly improved standard of education you provide.

"You have addressed the areas for improvement that inspectors identified at the previous inspection with considerable success.

"Teaching is highly effective, and you constantly consider its impact on pupils' learning.

"Parents and cares who responded to Ofsted's online survey or spoke with inspectors expressed great satisfaction with the education and care the school provides.

"The local authority has justifiable confidence in the school's leadership and provides a level of support that appropriately reflects this.

"There is also a highly positive working relationship between the school and those at the local authority who are responsible for overseeing the provision for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities."

In setting out the next steps for the school, Mr Quinn said leaders should continue down the same path to help pupils sustain their progress.

And he added it was important for staff to share best practice and support other schools.

Speaking on behalf of the school's leadership team, headteacher Lidia Cattrell said: "We are overwhelmingly excited about our Ofsted report. We firmly believe we are offering an exemplary special school.

"We are really very proud of all our staff, students and parents, and very grateful to the local authority, who are extremely supportive in helping us to meet the needs of our pupils."

Earlier this year, proposals to open a sixth form at the special school were approved.

Last year, Blackburn with Darwen Council went out to consultation on the plan to extend Crosshill Special School in Haslingden Road to 19 year olds.

The school, which shares a site with Blackburn Central High School, will increase in age range from 11-16 years to 11-19 years and take on an extra 30 pupils as part of a staggered expansion from September 2018 to September 2020.

The Haslingden Road facility currently teaches youngsters aged 11 to 16 with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The increase in the age range will be undertaken in increments with the first lot of Year 12 students starting from September 1 as the age range increases to 11-17 with an extra 10 learners in year 12.

The following year, the age range will go up again to 11-18 with 10 pupils in year 12 and a further 10 in year 14.

Finally, September 2020 would see the completion of the expansion with an age range of 11-19 made up of 10 pupils in years 12, 13 and 14.