Special Education and Disability

Local Offer – What Will Happen

What is Woodlands School?

Woodlands is a purpose built school catering for secondary aged pupils who already have an identified need of social and emotional difficulties and who find it hard to maintain a place in a mainstream school. We are run by Shropshire Local Authority, (LA). The additional needs that all pupils attending Woodlands have, which are a category of Special Educational Needs (SEN), are set out within an individual child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). This EHCP describes the nature and extent of a child’s needs and the type of education that they should therefore have access to. Most secondary pupils with an EHCP will still attend a mainstream school with a minority coming to Woodlands after discussion at an SEN panel run by the LA, see. As SEN can be quite complex, many of our pupils have other needs which also affect their behaviour in schools, such as a moderate learning difficulty (MLD), or for example they find it difficult to concentrate due to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Many of our pupils are behind the national average in terms of their learning when they come to us, due to the difficulties they have experienced in school.

We also are a part of the Woodlands Centre, where Woodlands Outreach is based, and providing support to pupils, parents and teachers in mainstream schools with aspects of SEN such as behaviour, learning and autism. In January 2015 we will start to work with a small group of Y5 and Y6 pupils in the north of Shropshire in the hope that they can have a successful Key Stage 2 and transition top secondary education with us or in a mainstream school.

Where we are:

Our address is The Woodlands Centre, Tilley Green, Wem, SY45PJ, here on google maps. The school is set in its own attractive grounds in Tilley Green, which is just south of the town of Wem and has all the facilities you would expect of a well-resourced secondary school. We have enough space for 56 pupils who we teach in small groups of up to 8 in each class. Pupils, most of whom are boys, come each day from all areas of Shropshire in taxis they usually share with other pupils.

In what way are we different to a mainstream school?

Admission The school is only open to those pupils who:

  • are supported by an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), and
  • have been identified and approved for admission in their ECHP through parental choice and Local Authority processes, and
  • are in Years 7 to 11.

Unlike mainstream school, most of our pupils are admitted after Year 7. Transition is flexible to suit each pupil and will always discuss plans with parents/carers. We gather all the available information necessary to meet the social, behaviour and learning needs of our new arrivals. To help with this we talk to other schools and adults involved (including teachers, Education Psychologists or social worker) and we arrange to do some testing to find out what levels new pupils are able to work at. Our Y7 transition normally involves a visit with parents and carers, and then two or three sessions here is school often in late June early July. All our pupils have a history of disrupting their own learning as well as that of others.

As it says above, any admission to our school must involve parents choosing the school. In order to do this properly parents will need to come and visit us for a look around and to discuss how the school can support their child. Having done this parents are in a good position to judge whether or not we are the right school for their child.   The decision to place a child here then involves a conversation between the school, home and the Local Authority, who have a panel of people who meet to discuss placement at our school. No child can be placed here before the panel has discussed them. All of these discussions can take place:

  • while the EHCP is being written as an EHCP must name the school that a child will attend, OR, for children who already have an EHCP,
  • when the school and parents discuss whether or not Woodlands would be more suitable after some-time within a mainstream school

In both of these situations, a lot of discussion is always had between home, school, the pupil and Local Authority.

Should any pupil require additional physical support in order to access the building and our learning, then we will ensure we make reasonable adjustments as we have been obliged to since September 2012 under the Equality Act 2010.

Size We are small. This means we get to know our pupils really well, and they get to know use really well too. It also means we are able to ensure that we are much better able to support all the needs of pupils as they arise during the day. This also means that our higher numbers of more vulnerable pupils, whether they are Looked After Children, or in receipt of free school meals, can benefit from higher levels of attention and support comparted to that available in mainstream schools.

Staff Our staff have chosen to work at Woodlands, which is a challenging, interesting and rewarding environment in equal measure. They are experienced at working with pupils who need extra support, and many have gained more qualifications to help with this. While there are many professionals in other schools who are exceptional in supporting all pupils, we expect all our staff to be the best in the ‘behaviour’ specialism they work in. Staff are skilled at combining friendliness, support, warmth, flexibility and humour with firmness when needed. We have a Home Liaison Manager who can work with parents to support attendance.

In terms of admissions, the key staff for parents, pupils and carers are:

  • Jane Otter (SENCo), and
  • Julia Taylor (Head of School),

As both are involved in the admissions process.

Curriculum. Pupils do not have the range of options available as they would in a large school, although we do offer a good range of subjects. All pupils who are able can achieve up to 9 GCSE passes in English, Maths, Science, ICT, PE, Food Technology or Resistant Materials (DT), Art and Humanities. We do not offer foreign language, as many of our pupils need help mastering skills in English such as reading and writing.

Teaching supports learners who are resistant to heavily literacy based learning and so is often active (kinaesthetic) and practical where appropriate. We do not have after school clubs or a range of school teams, as pupils have to travel together in taxis to get home each day. Instead we timetable these as lessons through our two-week timetable, meaning pupils have access to a range of activities such as swimming, cycling, gym, horticulture, dog walking, bee keeping, trampolining and climbing, to name a few. We also play some fixtures against other schools, for example in football. We also ensure pupils access opportunities that may be denied them in mainstream school, such as Arthog Outdoor Education Centre and a work experience in Year 10.

Organisation We are set up to work with the pupils we have, who are a minority at a mainstream school and who stand out as ‘challenging’ or different’ there. Although every pupil is an individual, they fit in here as they are with other pupils who are like them. Our small groups of up to 8 pupils supported by 2 staff, high staffing and supervision levels and tight routines mean that support is built into everything we do, reducing opportunities for things to go wrong, and making it easier to sort if they do.

Pupils arriving in Year 7 are taught by our specialist primary trained teacher in a dedicated area for much of the week, providing an extended transition from primary to secondary schooling. This means they can feel settled quickly in a nurturing environment with very structured routines and high expectations. Year 8 pupils are taught as a class together. In Year 9, pupils are streamed along with other Key Stage 4 pupils and start a three year examination timetable planned and taught at their level, leading to a range of qualifications.

Expectations although expectations are high, we also know that our pupils at times find it hard to sustain good behaviour at all times. When things aren’t as positive as we would like we will isolate the behaviour from the individual, ensuring that our pupils are confronted by consequences of their choices whilst expecting and challenging the pupil to do better next time. We do not therefore accept poor choices or behaviour, but instead try to ensure the pupil knows what is expected, point out what they did wrong and what it is they need to do better next time, and to then give opportunities to show improvement in future. We are very good at then rewarding positives to help pupils appreciate any improvements made, and will celebrate any success, however small.

Support each pupil chooses a mentor who supports them and helps plan, monitor and reward success and who communicates with home regularly. Behind this mentor system we have a full time dedicated Pastoral Manager who helps ensure that issues affecting pupil attendance and success are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. Staff have all chosen to work here in this school. That means they want to help all pupils enjoy everything the school has to offer and are flexible and very supportive of each child so that everyone is able to take part in all we do. Sometimes this means we have to make special plans to help some pupils take part in things like trips out. This might mean an extra car and member of staff going to help for example.

We invest a lot in our rewards system as we look to reward behaviours and attitudes to learning that would be taken for granted in most schools. Pupils receive feedback in terms of marks in every lesson. These marks are linked to our VIVOS reward system. There are staff available at all times to ensure that any pupil needing extra help with learning or behaviour will get it. Pupils start to follow varied examination courses in Year 9, being split into one of 4 groups depending on ability. This means that we can make sure teaching is at the right level for each child, on a course selected to enable them to di as well as possible. Pupils can take GCSEs from Year 9 if ready, and repeat them in Years 10 and 11 if appropriate. We offer targeted learning interventions, for example in 1:1 reading sessions where needed so pupils gain better access to the curriculum.

We try really hard to make sure that we talk to parents and carers at every opportunity – our mentors will be known to adults at home and will make contact at least once a week, and whenever there are any issues. On top of this our full time Pastoral Manager is always available to speak to meet with or visit parents/carers to discuss any concerns affecting home and school. We hold an annual BBQ and parents evening here each July, and as our pupils come from across Shropshire we have started to hold some parents evenings in the areas where pupils live, to make it easier for parents to come and see us.

In what way are we similar to a mainstream school?

Curriculum Although choice in subjects is limited we do offer English, Maths, Science, ICT, PE, Art, DT, Product Design, Food Technology, Personal, Social & Health Education, Humanities (History, Geography and RE). We follow the national curriculum and enter pupils for public examinations in all subjects bar PSHE. We supplement the formal curriculum with activities that are designed to expand pupil experience.

Like a mainstream school we test and assess pupils, and provide intervention if necessary, for example in reading. We also teach pupils in Year 9, 10 and 11 in ability groups, so that we can more accurately teach to the ability of pupils to enable them to fulfil their potential.

Expectations We expect that all our pupils are able to exceed the potential that they feel they may have. Although many arrive well behind their peers, our aim is to ensure that they catch up to where they should be so that they can achieve as well as possible in their examinations. We set targets for pupils based on their starting points with us, and then expect them to make exactly the same levels of progress that pupils of their age would make in mainstream schools. We review and share progress pupils are making twice a year, although in fact we expect our teachers to know how much progress all pupils are making at all times. We regularly monitor this and teachers ensure that pupils are well taught in well planned lessons. We therefore expect our pupils to manage themselves well enough to work hard and allow others to also do well.

Staff All planned lessons are taught by qualified teachers, and our Teaching Assistants have Level 3 qualifications. Many staff have additional qualifications in SEN. We not only teach but provide mentoring to pupils in order that they have some pastoral support.

Facilities We have specialist classroom areas that are very well equipped in Science, Art, DT, Food Technology and ICT. We have a small gym and pitch area where we can play sports. Most classrooms have the latest whiteboard technology and learning is helped by pupils having access to lap tops.

Support We have many visitors, some coming to provide additional support to pupils as they would in a mainstream school. This includes Social workers, colleagues from Targeted Youth Support, the Substance Misuse or the Looked After Children Teams, School Nurse, our careers advisor, or Family Solutions who provider a variety of services aimed at supporting pupils in school and their wider lives. We frequently meet with colleagues from these services, often with the families and pupils, in our efforts to ensure our pupils achieve the best that they can. Our Pastoral Manager is always available to talk to parents, arrange meetings and enable families to access services that might help them. She has a lot of specialist training, qualifications and expertise in support of this work.

Preparation for leaving Towards the end of Year 10 pupils supported by our careers advisor have a short work experience, preferably at an organisation they have identified within their local area. This enables them to gain valuable insight into the adult world of work. Some pupils can, if appropriate and if all parties agree, continue with a more regular experience where they can develop their skills and experiences more fully. This is, and may help them secure a job when they leave school. Our careers advisor produces a report which can go to employers or places of further education. We are always happy to help pupils in their applications, through discussion, visits, or practical help like filling in forms.

How we make sure we are doing well

Ofsted inspect the school on a regular basis, and compare us to mainstream schools, making sure that our pupils do as well as children in mainstream school, and holding us responsible if they do not. This means that just like mainstream schools we have to make our own judgements about how well we are doing and then plan to make things better. We make an Action Plan which we look at each year and which shows the areas that we want to make sure we focus on. The Local Authority help us to do this by looking at what we do, how well we do it and how we might be able to make it better. Our Governors also help us by checking that we are doing everything we say we will do, and asking us questions and setting us tasks if they feel we can be doing anything better. They do this on a regular basis, coming in to see us, and by holding committee meetings and meetings of the full governing body every half term.

All pupils at Woodlands School will:

  • Be able to take qualifications including GCSEs
  • Be taught in small groups by a qualified teacher and a TA
  • Read every day for 20 minutes
  • Have their own mentor to support them
  • Receive quality Careers advice
  • Travel to and from school in a taxi
  • Be placed in a group with pupils of a similar ability
  • Be able to represent the school in sporting events
  • Be tested on entry so that we understand their starting point
  • Have regular assessments by teachers to measure progress
  • Access Breakfast Club
  • Be able to enjoy an exceptional hot lunch prepared on site each day
  • Be a Work Experience in KS4

Some pupils at Woodlands School will:

  • Be able to attend an off-site course if appropriate
  • Have a personalised timetable either temporarily or for longer
  • Require additional learning support from time to time to access the full curriculum
  • Require additional behaviour support from time to time
  • Be able to have extended work experience if appropriate

 

Shropshire Council Local Offer