A NURSERY which supports children with special educational needs has been rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted for the fifth time in a row.

The Cleveland Unit Child Development Centre - an early years assessment, therapy and teaching centre based at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough - has consistently been rated ‘outstanding' by the education watchdog since its first inspection in 2005.

Out of 28,000 early years providers in England, the unit was only one of 22 to hit the top grade five times.

Currently 26 children between the ages of two and four attend the nursery.

The unit is for children with the most complex or high level needs which include: autism, autistic spectrum disorder, downs syndrome, learning difficulties, learning delay, cerebral palsy, communication difficulties, social emotional and mental health difficulties

Services include Multi-Disciplinary Assessment, Intervention and support, Assessment Nursery, Inclusion Support, Outreach Support, parent and carer support and training.

In their report, Ofsted stated that they were impressed by the quality of education, children's behaviour and personal development, and the management of the unit.

The report described staff as 'nurturing and caring', and said they appeared to have 'extensive knowledge' of children's stages of development, and were passionate about their work'.

Manager of the nursery and Head of Middlesbrough Council's Early Years Specialist Support Service, Jennie Kitchen, also received high praise.

Ofsted inspector Michelle Lorains wrote that Jennie was an inspiration to staff members with her ‘exceptional levels of experience and understanding of how to meet children's complex medical needs and support children with Special educational needs and disabilities.'

"I'm extremely lucky and proud to work with such a dedicated, passionate and skilled team and I'm delighted that Ofsted have again recognised the amazing work that the whole team does to help every child in our care reach their full potential," said Ms Kitchen.

"To be judged as ‘outstanding' once is a great achievement but to consistently receive this accolade, now for the fifth time in succession, is really something to be celebrated."