2022 Winners

Support into Employment

Derwen College

Derwen College

Derwen College, near Oswestry, in Shropshire, is a national specialist further education college for young people aged from 16 to 25. We currently have 143 residential and day students with a wide variety of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including autism, communication difficulties and challenging behaviours. 

Our strapline is ‘a place of possibility’ – the mission is to enable students to achieve goals and aspirations for the future. For the majority, the ambition is employability and development of skills to live a more independent life.  

Students are based at the college’s main site in Gobowen, near Oswestry, and at three smaller satellite sites at Walford, Ludlow and Telford. Learners follow vocational pathways in Hospitality and Food, Horticulture, Retail & Enterprise and Performing Arts. Those not yet ready for vocational pathways, can follow a Learning for Life pathway which builds confidence and teambuilding skills as a foundation to work-based learning.  

There are very few traditional classrooms at Derwen. Students learn vocational skills in work environments with teaching support staff. The Gobowen College campus boasts a customer ‘Marketplace’ which includes the Walled Garden Café, Orangery Restaurant, Garden Centre & Gift Shop, Vintage Advantage Charity Shop and training hotel Hotel 751. 

As students progress in their skills and confidence, our Work Experience team support them to work at weekly work placements outside of College. Students learn work skills, as well as travel training, to help them get to work safely. 

In 2020, the College used our expertise in work experience to add to further our programme of support into employment. We launched an additional Supported Internships scheme, designed specifically to direct a small group of former students into work. This bespoke programme, was created for specific students and tailored to support them into their chosen career choices. 

2021 saw the completion of our first two internship programmes. For 2021-22 we have two further interns who are working towards careers in Horticulture and Floristry. 

Evidence of going above and beyond

To support our interns to reach their goals, it is imperative that they are receiving personalised learning and work experience whilst also accessing the travel training and independence skills needed to get to future employment and enjoy a fulfilling life. 

Students K are O, both aged 20, are current Supported Interns. K wants to combine her horticulture and artistic skills in future employment with a florist. Student O would like to work in a Garden Centre. 

The College launched a campaign to find suitable work placements for the students, to offer them the very best training towards their career ambitions. 

The purpose of an internship is to progress into paid employment, ideally with the employer offering the internship, or by transferring skills to a new employer. 

Both O and K were involved in approaching businesses, demonstrating skills, and meeting employers face to face – important skills for any young person seeking employment. 

We also launched a media campaign in newspapers, local radio and on social media which explained to employers the importance of internships, and helped them to understand how an intern could fit into their business. 

Our campaign gleaned exciting results. We were approached by two independent Shropshire florists offering weekly placements to K. We were also contacted by national garden centre chain Dobbies who met with O, and offered a weekly placement. 

Both now have full five-day week timetables with relevant work placements which they attend with the support of job coaches with appropriate support. They also complete work skills as part of their internship undertaking employability skills, work portfolios and functional skills.  

We are very proud that K recently passed her driving test and is now able to drive to work placements independently. 

Innovation

Derwen College has long recognised that work placements are the best possible preparation for future employment. Work experience is a far cry from the one-week of often meaningless work experience that schools and some colleges achieve. 

Work placements for our interns take place over many sessions a week, every week. Interns get to know and develop their role in an organisation. It must be work relevant to their future aspirations. 

It is also vital that the work placement team support employers in the process. Job coaches attend work experience sessions with the intern, gradually withdrawing support where appropriate. 

By working side by side with employers, we feel we have changed attitudes and apprehensions toward employing people with SEND. 

For example, an employer who works with ‘K’, says: 

“K is such a wonderful engaging individual who fits into any role given to her at Agri-cation CIC. Her approach to challenges is very constructive, and she is keen to ask questions to make sure she understands the task at hand so that she can apply her knowledge and skills to get a desirable outcome. I am impressed with her creative abilities and each week she uses this talent to create beautiful recycled items to help develop our sensory garden. She is a joy to work with and I would recommend that people engage in this programme to create opportunity not only for the student, but the employer themselves.” 

Getting to work is also a vital skill. Students and interns learn to use buses, trains or taxis, or to walk safely to work where that is possible. It is a detailed and focused on each individual’s needs. 

We are proud that we have graduates who are now capable of travelling independently to work or internships. Some even travelling across London by foot, tube or train.

Evidence of Sustainment over two years

Derwen College is working with local authorities to identify students who would most benefit from an internship to progress them into employment. 

We feel that once a business sees for themselves how capable a person with SEND is, and what they can bring to a business, the possibilities are endless. We work hard to build and maintain a sustainable relationship, which would offer further opportunities to future interns. 

Our Work Experience team work to forge and maintain relationships with both local and national businesses. We have a strong bond with Premier Inn hotels, which has now seen more than 20 students progress to paid employment with the Whitbread-owned hotel chain.  

We were particularly excited to build a new partnership with Dobbies starting with intern O.  

We currently work with 27 businesses to provide external work placements for students and supported interns, as well as providing internal work experience in our on-site ‘Marketplace’. 

Supported Internships that started at Derwen College in September 2020 were successful, despite the challenges of COVID. Interns completed their programmes and have secured both paid hours and voluntary work, and are continuing to build up robust CVs.  

Our current interns are achieving wonderful results, progressing towards employment next year. 

‘K’s job coach says:  

“Progression for ‘K’ is the start of a new placement at a florist in Telford in March, and increasing her independent working hours at Agri-cation. She is an incredible young lady who has flourished on the Supported Internship programme and will progress into employment with ease.” 

Derwen College looks forward to forward to an incredibly bright future for ‘K’ and ‘O’, and to supporting our next intake for 2022-23. 

Partnership with Parents

Penwortham Primary School

Penwortham Primary School

Penwortham is the second biggest school in the London Borough of Wandsworth. There are over  650 pupils on roll;  26 pupils with EHCPs, 83 children on the SEND register and 180 EAL pupils. Penwortham operates over 3 sites – all are easily accessible for children with disabilities (e.g. Ramps, lift). Each floor has an accessible toilet. One classroom is fitted with a professional soundfield system that is beneficial for children with hearing impairment. The learning environment is highly inclusive, the children are provided with a large range of resources such as: visuals, sensory aids, SEND and EAL materials, IT technology etc.  

We are very proud winners of the 2020 SEND awards in two categories: Most inclusive practice across the school and Partnership with parents.  

Penwortham’s efforts to be an Inclusive School have been recognised widely and the school has been awarded with the following marks:  

  • Maintained IQM Centre of Excellence – status extended for 2022/2023 
  • Right Respecting School – Gold Award 
  • The National Quality Mark for Coaching in Education – Silver 
  • –           Nurture School Mark 
  • –           Coaching School Mark  

Evidence of going above and beyond

All staff at Penwortham Primary School continuously strive to provide the best education, support and care for all pupils and their families.  

Penwortham Primary School offers many opportunities to involve parents in every aspect of the school life. We understand and appreciate that parents, at times, can struggle and therefore we provide a large range of tools to swiftly and effectively support them. The support includes:  

  • Regular themed coffee mornings (SEND and EAL) 
  • Range of targeted workshops for parents of children with SEND 
  • Range of WE ARE curriculum family workshops.  
  • Community workshops. 
  • SEND Newsletter and the Globe. 
  •  “Open door” policy. 
  • Counselling for parents through Place2Be charity. 
  • Prompt referrals and access to professionals such as: speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, education psychologist, CAMHS specialists, paediatrician, ASD and ADHD specialists.  
  • Welfare and mental support during pandemic and lockdown.  
  • Targeted home visit from the SENCo and the  behaviour mentor. 
  • Packs for parents with resources such as: visual timetable, now and next boards, behaviour cards, zones of regulations.  
  • Signposting parents to appropriate services and professionals. 

Innovation

We are extremely proud that we have established a mutually supportive and respectful relationship with all our parents where trust and respect is at the heart of all we do. We aim to keep parents informed and involved in a positive way, through working in partnership together in order to help every pupil achieve their full potential socially, emotionally and academically. 

Child focused and parent friendly environment 

We are a welcoming and friendly school for parents/carers and visitors. Our office staff aim to respond swiftly and efficiently to the needs of all callers and visitors. We make the school a safe and vibrant environment. Notice boards in the school reception and notice boards in the playgrounds provide relevant information for parents and the community.  

Communication with Parents – SEND Newsletter and the Globe 

Penwortham recognises that effective communication with parents builds understanding and trust. Communication with parents is an important component of children’s learning experience. In order to keep the communication fluid we have “an open door policy” and staff are very easily accessible for parents through: face to face appointments, telephone calls and emails.  We publish SEND newsletters and the Globe magazine. Both give information of dates, events, what is happening or going to happen in school, celebration of achievements and general information. The regularly updated website communicates the key information about school life. Email distribution of letters and newsletters provides prompt information for our parents. Each morning, SLT members of staff are available on the school gates to meet and greet the children and provide parents the opportunity to informally share any information. 

In the remarkably challenging year of 2020 caused by the pandemic, Penwortham Primary School was recognised as an inclusive school and won the SEND Awards in two categories one of them being most inclusive practice across the school and partnership with parents “The judges were impressed with the school’s commitment to working in partnership with parents. There were clear signs that they are thinking about co-production with parents, as opposed to broadcasting to parents’ ‘ SEND Awards 2020.We continuosly improve our practice and expand our offer in order to provide parents with the best support possible.  

In February 2020 following a very thorough assessment, Penwortham was awarded the IQM centre of excellence. The reviewed report of 2020/21 highlighted that we: “continued working effectively with parents/carers to support pupils’ learning and personal development needs. A strength of the school, the school held virtual coffee mornings to ensure the relationship with families was ongoing during the closures and restrictions. In addition to ensuring the families had a network of support they also organised training opportunities for parents and staff, including ELKAN qualifications. Working with families within the community is an area of strength for the school. I met with a range of parents including those who were new to their SEN Journey. All parents spoke highly of the school and the Inclusion Team, especially the support and communication from the Inclusion Team. The parents felt they were supported in all areas of their child’s needs including referrals and meeting professionals. The parents were confident in the advice they have been given around their child’s needs and praised the SENCO, for her attention to detail and personalised support for the families and children. Her open-door approach ensures that parents get support when they need it”. In the latest 2021/22 IQM review assessment the assessor commented that   “Despite the pandemic, it was important for the school to continue to offer parents coffee mornings albeit virtually, to maintain the strong relationship with the families and continue to empower their parent community.  

 

Themed coffee mornings  

Our termly SEND and EAL coffee mornings are a wonderful opportunity for parents to get together, learn, share ideas and challenges over a cup of tea or coffee. These are organised once a term and they focus on a specific area. During the pandemic we offered parents as much support around well-being and resilience as possible. In the Autumn term we invited our Education Psychologist to talk about resilience and in the Spring term we focused on the importance of wellbeing. 

In the recent IQM CoE review assessment the assessor highlighted that: “Coffee mornings are continuing for targeted vulnerable groups (EAL, SEN PP) and the parents are encouraged to lead on one to share experiences and resources. The SENCO provides exceptional support for parents through prompt referrals to external professionals when needed, Early Help, Place for Parents counselling and home visits for the most vulnerable families. Good communication is ensured, and parents and families are encouraged to be involved in developing school policies and this is a priority on the school’s strategic plan. Parents told me that they felt extremely supported by the school and felt that staff members went over and above to make sure the whole family were getting the right support in the areas they needed, be that housing or accessing organisations. One parent told me that when they were researching schools for their sons the word “care” came up time and time again when others were discussing Penwortham. “I can’t think of anything else the school could do to support us, they do it all.” The school wants to build on this to truly empower the parent community.” 

Neurodiverse and WE ARE (Wellbeing Equality Aspiration Relevance Environment)  family curriculum Workshops  

We believe that it is crucial to provide parents with as much targeted support as possible in order to help them to understand their children’s needs better and be fully informed about all formal processes. This year we organised the following workshops: Secondary transfer, Speech and language development and in the summer term we plan to deliver a session about ADHD. We are running a series of workshops which will focus on a variety of SEN conditions/diagnoses from A-Z.  The aim of these sessions is to help parents and carers to better understand a specific  SEN condition; unpick the terminology; discuss the identification and referral processes and to share best practice, useful strategies and resources.  Our family workshops are an opportunity to share our WE ARE  curriculum with parents and to give them first hand experience of the knowledge, skills and activities their child/ren will experience as they move through the school during their learning journey. The relationship between school and parents is key in ensuring that children reach their full potential and we hope that by inviting parents and carers into school to share thrie child’s learning journey they’ll  be better informed to guide and support their children  as they learn. 

Support for EAL families 

 

Penwortham respond to world crisis situations: Pandemic and War in Ukraine 

Support during pandemic 

During this incredibly challenging time we have managed to support the children and their families by: arranging transport, food drops, food banks and food vouchers for the most vulnerable families; twice weekly SENCo/staff check ins and resource sharing- social stories for most anxious and vulnerable families; Signposting families to external services including: Autism Advisory Service, EPs and SALT. 

We continued with Coffee mornings for parents. We also supported many families with accessing additional benefits they are entitled to for example Disability Living Allowance.  Every EHCP child was provided with additional resources such as: visuals, sand timers, and a personalised time table. “Also, just to say the countdown sheets you gave us were SO helpful so thank you.  My daughter had a great morning today (I know it’s only the first day back but it was a really great start to the week).” Y4 parent. 

“Thank you so much for the pack. We have been using it at home. It’s brilliant! Yesterday my son realised that if you add 2 odd numbers you get an even number. Thanks to the hands-on maths resources you sent.” Y2 parent 

We made sure that our EHCP provision has been delivered and our most vulnerable children have access to all additional interventions they needed and deserved. 

Our IQM assessor commented “An area that Penwortham has to be recognised for this year, is the seamless transition to online support during the first and second closures. All targets from the action plan were met successfully which is a credit to the school and inclusion team to ensure the children’s needs. The support and interventions that have been planned and sent home have ensured that all children, who were unable to get into school, were provided with resources including sensory items and technology ensured no child has been left behind during the pandemic”. 

Parents of SEN children sent us some encouraging messages: 

“I would like to commend yourself for the support, the Teachers/TA’s especially Yr 2 teachers who have done an amazing job on home learning from Jan and back office for the clear, thorough communication that has been consistent throughout this pandemic. You have all done such a marvellous job which helps minimise the worry for a parent such as myself. Please pass on my well wishes and look after yourselves.” Year 2 parent 

Support for families fleeing from war in Ukraine  

The conflict and ongoing violence in Ukraine has caused many families to leave their homes in search of shelter and safety. Penwortham Primary school is ready to welcome refugee families. We have prepared welcome packs for parents and children. Our multilingual staff is ready to step in and help with interpretation/translation. The EAL Lead will be organising coffee mornings for those families.  

Parental Feedback 

We welcome comments and feedback from parents, carers or visitors about any aspect of the work we do at school. Equally we welcome any suggestions that will help us to further develop our partnership with parents. 

The school will regularly seek parental views on a range of topics affecting pupils’ education through surveys and verbal discussion. Feedback is valued, and responses are seriously considered and actioned where appropriate and in pupils’ best interests. 

Evidence of Sustainment over two years

We are very proud that our families feel valued and supported in our school, especially during this extremely difficult time. Despite all challenges we have managed to sustain outstanding communication with parents and offer them top quality support.  

Our continued efforts to provide the best possible support for our parents were AGAIN recognised in the final review IQM report.  

Partnership with parents – our impact in figures:  

  • 100% of the parents who attended our WE ARE Curriculum family workshops said they were now more likely to take part in or instigate activities with their children that are specific to the curriculum areas they attended a workshop for. 
  • 90% of parents think that SEN support plans work well. 
  • 66,7% of parents  are extremely happy and 33,3% are happy with the provision for their children , 
  • 100% parents of SEN children are happy with communication with the SENCo 
  • 95 % of EHCP outcomes have been met or partly met. 

Inclusion in Further Education and Higher Education

Derwen College

Derwen College

Derwen College, near Oswestry, in Shropshire, is a national specialist further education college for young people aged from 16 to 25. We currently have 143 residential and day students with a wide variety of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including autism, communication difficulties, challenging behaviours and profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). 

Our strapline is ‘a place of possibility’. While we focus on employability and development of independent living and social skills, each student’s expectations and outcomes are bespoke and based on supporting them to achieve the very best they can and raise their aspirations. 

Students are based at the college’s main site in Gobowen, near Oswestry, and at three smaller satellite sites at Walford, Ludlow and Telford. Learners follow vocational pathways in Hospitality and Food, Horticulture, Retail & Enterprise and Performing Arts. Most recently, the College has launched a bespoke Nurture programme which caters for students with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). 

Everything that we do at college is built around inclusivity. There is a sustained commitment to offer students with SEND at the very least equal opportunities to those that any mainstream student should expect. In many instances we believe we go way further. 

We are passionate about enabling students to communicate their feelings and opinions, and incredibly proud of our powerful Student Voice initiative that pushes barriers to ensure that every student’s views and opinions are heard. The College has an active and powerful elected Student Union Board, with representatives from each programme area, as well as for freshers, satellite sites, day students, LGBTQ +, BAME and Welsh students. Student Voice continues to evolve to reflect changing times and a changing cohort of students. Our practices are constantly evolving to offer the very best opportunities. 

Our Safe Places project demonstrates our commitment to broadening participation in Student Voice activities so that we can involve the larger student population. Using a variety of communication tools, student representatives were equipped to support their peers to identify College areas where they felt ‘safe’, happy and comfortable.  A ‘safe’ environment is one where students can access what they need without barriers. Students learn and progress better in all aspects of their lives, when they feel safe and happy. 

Derwen recognised the need for students – especially those who lack self-confidence or are non-verbal – to be able to communicate where they feel safe, and when they feel anxious or uncomfortable, so that College could make adaptations to make everyone feel ‘safe’. 

Evidence of going above and beyond

Derwen’s vision for Student Voice is to enable students to be heard, and issues discussed and negotiated. It was identified that, whilst some students thrive when enabled to express themselves, there was a risk that students lacking confidence or communication skills, were not being heard. 

Inspired by a previous research project, College Autism Advisor, Helen Evans, worked with the College Student Union Board (SUB) on our innovative ‘Safe Places’ project. The project identified areas around campus where students felt safe and happy, as well areas that made them feel anxious or uncomfortable. 

A crucial element of the project was to enable our Student Union Board to effectively communicate with every student to gain a college-wide picture of Safe Places, and to give every student a voice. To include each and every student meant using a variety of different communication tools. We also had to work around Covid restrictions. 

The project began life virtually during the pandemic, to minimise contact and include all students, even those isolating in residences or at home. Workshops and discussions on what ‘safe’ meant, and how to communicate this to others, were held online.  

As Covid restrictions were lifted, students moved onto using ‘Photo Voice’, where they were given cameras or used tablets to photograph areas all around campus where they felt safe. They were also asked to describe and comment on how these areas made them feel. The photos collected were collated into a College ‘map’ for all to see. 

Innovation

The Safe Places project allowed students to support other students to have their say. We empowered students on the Student Union Board (who, by self selection, tend to be the more confident and articulate students) to empower all students to have a voice. 

Helen was asked to work with the Student Union Board to hold workshops on what ‘safe’ meant to them. Board members then visited peers in each department, to explain the project to them. It was crucial that all students were involved in the project, and that is was inclusive and as accessible as possible.  

Virtual workshops were held for the College’s Student Union Board, to explore and understand what feeling ‘safe’ means, as a concept. 

Helen produced a ‘click and drag’ activity on PowerPoint where students could identify how they felt about different areas of a communal building. They were able to drag a coloured arrow to a specific area of a photograph depending on how they felt about that area of the photograph.  

Once back on campus, the photo voice element of the project could commence. The method was trialled by the student council group first, and then they were encouraged to think how to approach their peers to make sure they could understand and communicate feelings. 

The Student Union Board invited the speech and language staff team to a group meeting to ask for support in creating an information sheet and to teach them the relevant Makaton signs to better support peer to peer communication. 

The Student Union Board supported peers in taking 86 photos of areas thought of as ‘safe’. One student pointed out that she felt safe walking unaccompanied from College Reception to the day student house. We realised that routes between areas were also important. 

The project was a positive idea to identify ‘safe spaces’, but also identified areas deemed ‘unsafe’. The reasons for students’ feeling this around specific areas were then clarified, and action taken to address the underlying reasons and issue. In this way, no area of the College will be considered ‘unsafe’ by current and future students. 

Students contacted all the peers in their area eg.the Horticulture rep was responsible for explaining the project to his/her work peers. Students also contacted all relevant support staff to ensure that students were supported to not only take photos, but to then upload and send them to the right person. 

The photographs and comments were collated into a ‘map’ of the college and displayed on the Student Union building. Results were presented by the group to the College leadership team and governors. These findings could be used to help action changes that students considered important to make around College. 

For this project, Student Union Board members learnt skills in teamworking, discussion, presentation and leadership, while all students were empowered to have a voice. 

Through the initiative, we became aware of ‘barriers’ that we were previously unaware of, and could see instantly the wider value of the project.  

Issues about several areas – including a specific toilet and doorway – were raised by many students.  A toilet, which is accessed from a classroom, was seen by some as not sufficiently private (‘other students might hear me or know where I’m going’). A doorway which was sometimes locked and sometimes accessible frustrated some. Oliver, a motorised wheelchair user, identified a lip under a doorway which made his wheelchair ‘jolt’ when he used it. Jake, who also uses a wheelchair, communicated that he was unable to visit our Woodland Walk due to narrow gateways. College is removing gates and widening pathways so that he can enjoy the same outside experience as his friends.  

Evidence of Sustainment over two years

The Safe Places project is ongoing. As our student cohort and use of areas around College change, it is important that we know that our learners feel ‘safe’, and able to learn effectively. 

The information gleaned and skills learnt are sustainable, and will be updated regularly through work with our Student Union Board.  

The board are now working with Senior Leadership to modify and adapt areas deemed ‘uncomfortable’. Issues about several areas were raised by many students. Increased privacy, busy or noisy environments, and unpredictable or uncertain circumstances were all raised as barriers of learning for some students.  

Student Jake, who uses a wheelchair, communicated that he was unable to visit our Woodland Walk due to narrow gateways. College is removing gates and widening pathways so that he can enjoy the same outside experience as his friends. 

Independence Manager Helen Owen says: 

“This has been such a valuable piece of work. We created a photomap of College, which clearly shows that students feel safe in most areas. However, issues came up that hadn’t previously been raised, because the question had never been specifically asked. Issues that staff were unaware of, or just thought of as mild annoyance, proved to be severe barriers for some students. 

“Students who were previously unable to communicate feelings of discomfort or anxiety have become empowered to have their say about College.” 

The initiative has also further encouraged students to support and help each other in a truly positive and enabling way. 

Project leader Helen Evans, has been sharing her ideas of how to support all students to have a voice with Natspec – the membership association for organisations which offer specialist further education and training.  

We look forward to sharing our expertise with students with SEND from across the UK. 

Excellence in Special Schools and Alternative Provisions

Cortani Academy

Cortani Academy

Our Alternative Provision Academy provides education for students in key stages 2, 3 and 4 who struggle in mainstream school.  We have a maximum of 40 students on roll all with SEMH needs.  Over half of our students are FSM and PP. Our relationship-based curriculum ensures the needs of all students are catered for.  All staff have been trained in a trauma informed approach, including emotion coaching and restorative practice, which is embedded within our working practice and our policies reflect this. 

As well as SEMH needs, the majority of our students have additional complex needs which are often undiagnosed when they arrive with us.  Most of our students require an EHCP which is a priority if this has not been awarded before they come on roll.  At the moment, we have a large number of students with autism which we take into account when planning our support.  Our provision takes into account sensory needs alongside this and practical support is provided as necessary. 

All of our students have had a negative experience of education in the past and often trauma within their personal lives too. We gain a comprehensive history of each student to ensure we are able to offer the most effective package of support. 

All students begin the day with breakfast club followed by tutor time.  This ensures a connection is made with peers along with a trusted adult and there is an opportunity to share any concerns before the timetable begins. 

Our timetable covers core subjects as well as options in the afternoon.  We use a therapeutic approach including sports coaching, music (noise academy), careers counselling, yoga and therapy for art with trained instructors in addition to the traditional subjects. 

Our Coritani Mindset is intrinsic in all that we do with the children at the heart of it.  Safe, ready, respectful and inspire excellence in embedded within our ethos and values.  Both the staff and students buy into this culture, which has proven successful time and time again.  Families are an important part of our school community and we believe that without their support, we could not operate.  Our positive feedback allows us to continue our work, making a difference every day.

Evidence of going above and beyond

Each student is treated as an individual with a package of support to match.  This begins before the school day starts with communication to and from home to ensure we are ready to deal with any issues. Every morning before the students arrive there is a staff briefing to discuss expectations for the day as well as individual students. 

All students are provided with breakfast funded by the school and tutor period to make a connection with peers and a trusted adult before beginning the timetable. 

On top of the core subjects, options allow individuality to allow everyone the chance to shine.  Some lessons only have 1 student in them to provide them with the opportunity to follow their interests.  Examples of our option GCSE’s are photography, film studies, IT and food.  During food lessons all ingredients are provided to ensure there are no financial barriers for families.  In addition, our therapeutic approach including sports coaching, music (noise academy), careers counselling, yoga and therapy for art with trained instructors. 

Each week, the children leave site and go into the community.  This may be for a walk, shopping or to a local café.  Every term there is a coach trip for the whole school, which is fully funded, again to allow all students to participate.  Parents are welcome to join too. 

Parent sessions are held including education and support networking. External professionals are invited along to strengthen the offer. 

Every half term, each student has a review meeting with families and all professionals involved with their case.  This allows us to make any adjustments to their plan and constantly ensure we are meeting their needs. 

Our Academy has had no exclusions during the pandemic despite the increased anxiety leading to dysregulation in school.  We believe in the trauma informed approach that we have adopted and restorative practice to educate young people and give them the skills they need to take forward in life. 

The best way to explain our everyday practice is to present a case study.  This is by no means isolated as each student has their own profile and learning journey. (See attached case study for more details) 

AB has made significant progress both emotionally and academically since joining Coritani.  She was a school refuser and now attends the Academy regularly and engages in lessons.  She has a plan for her future and is willing to work hard to make this happen with our continued support. AB joined Coritani in May 2021 after a period of EHE.  She missed large periods of school towards the end of primary and due to her anxiety mum felt, her needs were better met at home.  Her anxiety had a negative impact on her behaviour, which caused issues at home, school and in the community.  AB was given a diagnosis of autism recently. 

Due to ABs anxieties she would not come out of the car and staff worked with her in the car park for 5 weeks to build relationships before she entered the building. Regular thrive interventions have taken place allowing her to make connections with an adult in a purposeful way as well as emotion coaching techniques to enable her to join lessons with her peers. 

Modelling and explicit teaching of respect has given AB a better understanding in an area where she is still developing. Restorative practice has ensured her voice is heard whilst also promoting listening skills and finding solutions for her to move forward respectfully. 

There have been no physical intervention used with AB at Coritani, which is something she experienced at her previous two schools.  Issues within the community have been addressed in school through PHSE to ensure she has increased awareness and stronger protective factors. 

Weekly trips have given AB a sense of belonging within the community and the social skills to take forward in life.  Her recent assessments have shown that she has the ability to succeed in her GCSEs and move on to further education.  

Innovation

Our trauma informed approach is a real success when working with young people.  All of our students have been referred from mainstream settings as a result of either exclusions, lack of engagement in lessons or refusal to attend.   

Each of our students makes accelerated progress due to the relationship based curriculum and nurture that they receive in our school.   

The Executive Principal is the virtual head for our local authority who also leads on NPQ programmes and is a school improvement partner.  His support for other schools ensures that we share our excellent practice with others.  The Assistant Principal speaks for whole education following his master’s degree, again to share good practice and also to learn innovative ways of working. 

Being a fully inclusive school is a new experience for our students often and we are the change they need in their lives.  Parents report that their children are much more relaxed at home as a result which has a major positive impact holistically.  

Our Academy has achieved numerous awards for our work including Caring 2 learn gold standard, Rights Respecting Schools and we are currently working towards a gold mental health award through Leeds Beckett University. 

Our current spirals of enquiry project through whole education extends our student voice further allowing us to improve our practice and ultimately change lives. 

Staff relationships are equally valued and the culture within school is supportive, open and honest.  As a team of reflective practitioners whilst we are confident that we deliver an excellent service, we strive to find new ways to support our students and their families.  

Here is a quote from the local authority. 

“Coritani is one of our most established and highly thought of provisions in North Lincolnshire. It offers an exceptionally high quality education to many of our pupils who find difficulty in learning within a mainstream environment. They strive to ensure excellent outcomes for all their pupils which are not just limited to exam results. Without a doubt all the staff have an open and caring attitude to their work and the experience they provide for every individual pupil who may attend there. Coritani have an amazing record of engaging and re-engaging pupils into learning and have their personal development and wellbeing at the heart of everything they do in the setting. The leadership and management is second to none and it is evident to see that with Dave Flowitt at its helm, Coritani oozes best outcomes for all children and utilises so much of its work with looked after children in driving forward support, outcomes and excellent results for all our children.” 

Evidence of Sustainment over two years

Throughout the pandemic, Coritani has remained open, as all of our students are considered vulnerable.  This stability and consistency has ensured our students have not felt isolated as many other young people have.  Our data shows that our attendance is strong in comparison to other schools throughout the pandemic. 

We achieved the caring 2 learn gold standard and Rights respecting Schools award within the last year.  We were the first school in the authority and it was a pleasure to be presented with the caring 2 learn award by one of our students at the recent conference.  

Our non-judgemental approach deals with the family as a whole and aims to create change both in and outside of school. This has been evident throughout the pandemic when we have continued to operate supporting our young people and their families. 

Our local authority had a recent SEND inspection and our students were so proud to have the opportunity to be interviewed by the Ofsted inspector.  I had the privilege of being present and the difference that our Academy makes and has made over the last two years shone through in their conversations. 

Our GCSE results speak for themselves as the students would not sit them had they stayed in mainstream education and leave us with qualifications to take them onto the next step in their lives.  Of course, this is our major focus however we see that the path to achieving this has to be individual with pastoral support heavily recognised. 

Now that we are approaching the end of the pandemic I know that we have enabled our students to come out as confident young people.  They have received the support they need both through school and external agencies as a result of our referrals. This has minimised the impact of what has been an extremely difficult time. 

Most Inclusive Practice

Handforth Grange Primary School

Handforth Grange Primary School

Handforth Grange Primary School is a mainstream Primary within the Frank Field Education Trust. We are known within Cheshire East and out local area for the standard of support and provision we provide to children with SEN. Currently, within a school of 336 children we have 44 children on the SEN register, 20 EHCPS and 24 children on SEN-K support. At Handforth Grange Primary School we are committed to welcoming all students.  

We have a resource provision for 7 children with Education Health Care Plans whose main area of need is Autism. This provision is currently over PAN with 8 children being supported within this provision. Children within the Resource Provision will have a balanced curriculum designed to meet their individual needs with periods of time in mainstream classroom complemented by specific social and sensory integration programmes completed on an individual basis or in small groups. Adjustments are made where necessary and where possible to enable all students for whom Handforth Grange Primary School is the best placement, to access lessons and social time as freely as possible. The children are part of the year group PAN, are therefore their progress remains the responsibility of the class teacher under the code of practice. The expectation is that children within the resource provision should have the capacity to be able to spend 50% and above of their time being taught in the mainstream classroom alongside their peers with support. Specialist teaching is provided within the resource provision where needs cannot be met in the classroom or to provide additional sensory, life skills and speech and language interventions. 

At Handforth Grange Primary School we follow the graduated approach to meeting special educational needs that requires the initial use of Quality First Teaching in the classroom, school interventions and resources before bringing specialist expertise to bear on the difficulties that a pupil is experiencing. When a young person is identified as having special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEN), school will intervene as described in our SEND Policy. Working closely with parents and children to ensure that take into account the child’s own views and aspirations and the parents’ experience of, and hopes for, their child is integral to our approach. Parents are invited to be involved at every stage of planning and reviewing SEN provision for their child. All children benefit from ‘Quality First Teaching’: this means that teachers expect to assess, plan and teach all children at the level that allows them to make progress with their learning. We have high expectations of all our children.

Evidence of going above and beyond

We believe in helping families and not just the children. Many families shared their struggles in getting their children to school in the mornings, therefore, we now have a free school bus which collects a large proportion of EHCP and SEN-K children. We have provided support to take the children to hairdressers, dentists, and doctors both in and out of school. This helps with the parents’ anxieties about taking their children to new or unknown places. We take the children with EHCPs on life skills trips twice a week, to both expose them to new places and prepare them for more independence (soft play, the local shop, garden centres and the church café for example). 

We strive to allow the children experiences across the school week to expose them to more than just academics. We have Boccia, yoga, music lessons and drama timetabled in as an addition to the timetable so that children on the SEN register have the chance to explore areas of interest that might appeal to them to help them find the thing that they love. We have also invested in specialised sensory equipment across the school so that all children can meet their sensory needs and be regulated across the school. Nursery, Reception and the RP all have sensory rooms. We have a human sized roller and a sensory swing. Recently we invested in specialised padded AstroTurf in the RP play area to support their safe, sensory and ability to roll, play and take their shoes and socks off. We are always looking to improve our areas of the school to support all learners. 

The academic achievements are the highest of any Resource Provision in the Local Authority; but more importantly the children have also been Cheshire Boccia champions; a child placed second in the National Riding for the Disabled awards due to our weekly horse-riding sessions; the children are fully immersed in every Ignition Day an Experience; singing proudly in the Wilmslow Music Festival; helping to create the gardens at Tatton and enjoying community-days locally. 

Furthermore, during the pandemic, we have kept our ignition days and Handforth Experiences running despite the additional challenges. Attached are a selection of the positive messages from parents; we organised virtual Ignition days every three weeks; worked with artists around the world; listened to- and discussed – local authors and carried out 247 Stepping Stones activities ranging from stair-climbing up mountains to recording virtual assemblies; to creating reading videos for the youngest children to tidying up the local area on their daily walks. 

Handforth Grange is rather special and we’re proud to be able to share a little of what we do, with you. 

Innovation

Handforth Grange is a school built on three simple ideas:  

We agree with Professor K.Anders Ericcson, that ALL learning is based on ‘Ignition’ and that if children and adults alike are inspired, motivated, passionate and have been soaked in vocabulary and knowledge before they learn, then this levels the playing field for disadvantaged children and those with SEND. Every Three weeks children in every class enjoy an Ignition Day that sets up the next three weeks learning. These range from mega whole-school experiences: a Farm and Petting Zoo on the school field; our own ‘Handforth Vibes’ Festival; creating a Model village out of 35,000 lollipop sticks, or taking all the Junior pupils hiking to residential experiences and trips; to visitors and actors immersing the children in the stories of the Ancient Greeks or Romans or Victorians; to school-based experiences carrying out archaeology on the school field; investigating crime scenes, or creating a replica of the area of London around Pudding Lane and then setting fire to it. Every child enjoys an Ignition Day every three weeks. That’s 12 per year. Or 72 between the time that they join us and the time that they leave. And each one leads to a deeper, more realistic approach of what the children are learning about. 

The second central idea of our school is that a great school is built in three layers. Even more important is a layer of Wider Opportunities of Sport, Music, Art, Drama, Dance and Outdoor Education that give children the social capital to enjoy the rest of their life: the sports clubs and societies that they’ll join in the communities that they belong to; and build their hobbies and interests that will give their life meaning and enjoyment. We are therefore equally proud that: 

  • All our children run every day as part of the Daily Mile initiative 
  • Our Girls football team are the Macclesfield and District shield winners two-years running 
  • Our Boys football Team are the holders of the Wilmslow Shield  
  • Our Choir are the reigning Cheshire Choir of the Year and Macclesfield and District Choir of the Year three years out of the last five  
  • We have staged whole-school performances of Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat and we have won two Silver Gilt and two Gold medals at the last four RHS Tatton Flower Shows.  

All these events fully immerse every child within the school. It allows children with SEND to explore other talents alongside the academic side. 

But that isn’t enough either… Because we believe that children also need an ’Experiences’ layer of life-changing Residential, Entrepreneurial, Cultural and Service opportunities that will give them the Cultural Capital to feel at least equal to anyone else: every child from Year 3 to Year 6 goes on an annual residential (with 99%n uptake), including children with SEN. We provide the correct support to ensure that all children can access these life events. The trips ranging from Outward Bound activities, to water sports, to wild camping, to a London Residential with a day in the Houses of Parliament hosted by Lord Field of Birkenhead; sightseeing; a West End show; a day touring the street art of East London; Karaoke; Ten-Pin Bowling and an immersion in the London Transport System with 32 Tube journeys, the overground, the DLR, the cable car and the Thames Clipper – so that children leave our school near Manchester Airport confident that they can enjoy the Capital for the rest of their lives. For a non-verbal child with ASD and an EHCP that came to London with us for example, this meant a bespoke trip for him to follow his interest of public transport, lifts and trains. 

The children have the opportunity to start businesses, and create websites and give presentations and assemblies. They go to the theatres in Manchester and to the Cheshire Show. And they volunteer locally, planting bulbs; visiting the old people’s homes; playing bingo with the over-60s club. This is all recognised in their Stepping Stones passports that allow them to work towards character development goals and be recognised with their names on the wall of the School Hall. The majority of our SEND children love this passport and strive to get their badges. 

The final, and most important idea, is that all this has to be entirely inclusive. We have a resource Provision for children with complex Autistic Spectrum Condition and support 21 children with Education Health and Care Plans. We have 26 children being support on SEN-K plans across 13 classrooms. All children are fully supported. We haven’t done a fixed term or permanent exclusion in six years and are recognised by Cheshire East as one of the top two most inclusive primary schools in the local authority out of 147. Every child, regardless of ability or background enjoys completely equal access to all the activities above with life-changing results. Handforth Grange is the only school in Cheshire East recognised as Outstanding with a Resource Provision and the Resource Provision itself is individually classed as outstanding by the authority who say:  

  • This approach should be encouraged in all RP provisions in showcasing the potential that all learners can achieve in line with their peers. The school expect, and achieve appropriate outcomes for RP pupils, which promotes a real ‘can do’ attitude. 
  • The learning walk undertaken showed outstanding evidence in pupil’s books of progression in learning for RP pupils. 
  • There is a very clear vision, from Trust down around the benefits of inclusion; school see pedagogical benefits for all staff on the inclusion model and have high aspirations for their learners. 
  • The clarity of inclusive vision is embedded in the curriculum, which is well suited to the needs of ASC learners because of its highly structured nature and visual and experiential components. 

Evidence of Sustainment over two years

Since our Ofsted inspection in April 2017 and the Cheshire East Resource Provision Review in Sept 2018 we have continued to sustain the highest level of provision for children with SEND at Handforth Grange Primary School. The systems in place in school are fully embedded to ensure that all SEN and EHC implementation plans reviewed each term with parents are carers.  Parents of children with SEND feel supported and able to come to us for support – as evidenced by SEND questionnaires.  

The embedded Experience and Ignition Curriculum was developed to ensure that all children, regardless of ability were able to reach their full potential. Our curriculum is adapted for children with SEND to ensure that they access quality first teaching within the classroom for all subjects. Teachers and teaching assistants have regular training to maintain and update their skills. The SENCO is a member of the senior leadership team and attends weekly leadership meetings; this ensures that the voice of children with SEND is heard.  The Head of School has a MA in SEN and Inclusion. 

During lockdown, children with SEND were included in the key worker bubbles and returned to school as soon as permitted.