JUST before the end of last term, The Abbey School in Farnham was graded as ‘outstanding’ for the third time following successive Ofsted inspections.

Earlier this term, students and staff came together for a special assembly to say thank you to the members of the Governing body and to the founders of local charity The Children with Special Needs Foundation, among others, who have done so much to support the school.

David Neal-Smith has been a governor at The Abbey since 1999, shortly after his own son joined the school. Having chaired the board for the last few years he has decided to step down.

Fulfilling the governing body’s succession plan, David is handing over to parent governor, Katie Hewett, who has already served a period as vice-chair following the retirement of another long-serving governor, Auriel Rankmore, last year.

The school’s headteacher, Nathan Aspinall, presented David, and two parent governors whose terms of office had come to an end following the end of their children’s time at the school, Sharon Mitchell and Iain Wolloff, with specially commissioned artworks comprising photographs taken by students at the school.

Mr Aspinall said: “We are hugely grateful to our governing body who give generously and reliably of their time and expertise to offer advice, constructive criticism and support on a voluntary basis.

“They shoulder a considerable workload and responsibility which is especially significant during an Ofsted inspection.

“It is great that David, Sharon and Iain are leaving us at such a high point following the school’s most recent Outstanding inspection and that we are welcoming new governors to help take the school forward and challenge us to not rest on our laurels.”

Gordon and Ann Parris, from the Children with Special Needs Foundation were also presented with a photo collage in recognition of the many ways in which they, their colleagues, patrons and donors have enhanced the students’ educational, social and life-skills opportunities.

The foundation has raised millions of pounds over the last 20 years to help individuals and groups of young people with special needs from all over Surrey, East Berkshire and North Hampshire.