A STUDENT with autism has written a moving letter in response to a Government inspection, which deemed his school "inadequate".

Ethan Siou wrote to The Northern Echo following the publication of a damning report about a recent visit from Ofsted to The Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street.

The 15-year-old, who is in year 11, is high functioning, but does work with special educational needs staff to help him overcome challenges he faces in school.

In his letter, Ethan said: “Every day when I walk into The Hermitage, staff and students greet me with a smile and joy.

“I am greeted with good mornings, good afternoons and even an ‘areet’.

“It creates a feeling of friendship and unity. This is just one thing The Hermitage offers.”

Ethan explained how he had developed confidence and social skills, which allows him to speak publicly and make presentations.

He said: “When I present assemblies, I am rewarded with respect and performance worthy amounts of applause.

“I was given this by students and staff. I call that ‘Herma Spirit’, and it will stay even in its darkest times.”

The secondary school was visited by the education watchdog in October and The Northern Echo ran a report earlier this month after it was published.

Inspectors gave the school the lowest possible rating and will return to see if standards have improved some time before October 2020.

Ethan said: “I was very alarmed when I heard the phrase ‘in time leaders have not implemented an effective strategy to improve the academic progress of those students with special educational needs’.

“I have a special educational need, autism. When my parents were looking for a school to support me, The Hermitage offered a lot in support for me.

"It agreed I would have educational meetings with the head of the student support centre (SENCO) at least once in the school year. In those meetings I was offered a balance of independence and support, and it was tailored for me.

"In fact the school was a massive leap of confidence and played a massive part in me fitting in with the amazing year I am in now.”

Ethan is now getting ready to work hard on his GCSE exams in summer and hopes to study in the schools sixth form.

The pupil, who is thinking of pursuing a career in politics, finished his letter with a positive note.

He said: “We do have faults, but it’s the courage to go on that counts, and we are working on how to improve our already great school.

“Our “Herma” spirit will live on and everyone will always stay smiling. That is what really counts.”

Ofsted found school leaders do understand it’s weaknesses and are taking action to improve, with governors getting extra support from external school improvement professionals.

Academy principal Felicity Smith said: “I found Ethan’s letter quite emotional.

“It is amazing that a student off their own back would feel so passionate they would want to write something like that because they love the school and they feel the school has supported them so much moving forward.

“He wanted to put a different perspective out on the school and what it is like to be a student here.”