Welcome to our School

A message from Helen Porter, Headteacher

“I am delighted to welcome you to Priestley Smith School website.

At Priestley Smith School, we aim to support our students, all of whom have a visual impairment, to do their very best, to enjoy school and to develop into caring, confident, independent and resourceful young people. We seek to develop well informed, respectful young citizens who celebrate the diversity in our world and help to shape the future, who are eager to share their thoughts and views but who also listen and respond appropriately to the opinions of others. We are a Unicef Rights Respecting School and ensure our students understand and value their rights, while also respecting the rights of others.

We have high expectations for our students and have created an environment in which each individual is supported and challenged to achieve their full potential, both inside and outside the classroom. Our students have a very rich and varied curriculum which focuses heavily upon first hand experiences and develops a love of learning. We want our students to leave us with the best possible academic qualifications but also with strong Independent Living Skills and the ability to move around the wider environment independently and safely so that they can succeed in the world.

We expect our students to be ready to learn, to work hard and to take pride in their achievements. We also believe that a strong partnership between student, parent and staff will ensure the best possible outcomes and therefore work closely with children and their families to identify the next steps in their learning and ways to support them to achieve these.

We hope you find our web-site interesting and informative.

If you would like any further information please contact the school by telephone or e-mail.”

What do we do?

We are an all age specialist centre for pupils with severe sight loss. All of our teaching staff are experienced and qualified teachers of the Visually Impaired. Our support staff are also all trained to a very high standard.

We are committed to providing an exciting, stimulating and highly differentiated learning programme for all of our students and to ensuring that each child is supported to reach his or her potential. We provide both a mainstream curriculum, personalised to meet each child’s visual and learning needs, and the additional specialist subjects of braille, mobility, perceptual development and Independent Living Skills. Every student leaves the school with a range of accreditation and qualifications to help them make their way in the world.

Priestley Smith School caters for children between the ages of 2 and 19 years, delivering nursery education, Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. If you wish to hear more about what we do in school please read our News and Events.

To find out more about what we do, please read our SEN Information Report.


Where Are We?

Priestley Smith School is located on the site of Perry Beeches mainstream schools in Great Barr, Birmingham. The campus includes Perry Beeches Nursery, Infant, Junior and Secondary schools. Our buildings are purpose-built for visually impaired students and are very well resourced to meet their needs, providing the specialist equipment they require to access the curriculum.

Priestley Smith School is a city-wide provision. Students attend our school from all areas of Birmingham and also from surrounding Local Authorities, including Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Have a look at our contact us page for more information on our location.


Our Ofsted Report

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‘In March 2012 and January 2015 and 2019 OFSTED inspected our school. We were delighted by the outcome of these inspections, which concluded that “Priestley Smith is an outstanding school”.

Here are some extracts from the latest report:

“Pupils achieve extremely well because staff have expert knowledge in their subjects. They know how to promote the learning of pupils who have visual impairment extremely well. The most able achieve as well, and sometimes better, in their GCSEs and A levels as all other pupils nationally.”

“Pupils’ behaviour is excellent. They thrive from early years to sixth form in an environment that nurtures their confidence and teaches them to value and respect everyone’s different talents and backgrounds. This means that their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding”.

“Teaching is outstanding because staff are so skilled at promoting each pupil’s learning. Staff have a detailed understanding of the pupils they teach and of how to promote the learning of pupils who have a visual impairment. They also convey a love of their subjects that inspires pupils to learn.”

“Attitudes to learning are exceptional. Pupils say this is because they ‘want to learn’ and ‘do things for ourselves’. They also say they know their teachers value and respect them… Pupils take great pride in their work and achievements.”

“Outstanding skills programmes ensure pupils are extremely well prepared for their next steps in education as well as for life in modern Britain. These include courses in personal and social understanding, mobility and independent living. Pupils hugely value the independence they gain from them.”

“An exceptional headteacher, ably supported by a strong leadership team, has created an ethos in which all are determined that every child matters and will succeed. Leaders and managers at all levels, including governors, have the highest expectations of themselves and of pupils.”

“Excellent technological support ensures pupils have ready access to the specialist equipment that they need to learn. Pupils become highly skilled in using it.”

“All pupils feel extremely safe in the school. Leaders are meticulous in carrying out all the checks they should to ensure this.”

“The governance of the school is outstanding. The governing body is hugely committed to the work of the school and very involved in monitoring  its work and evaluating its outcomes.”

Read the full report below: 

Ofsted Report 2015 

Ofsted Report 2019