Welcome to our school. We are different, and we think that's wonderful.
Thank you for giving up your time to read a little more about our truly unique school. I have spent many years working in schools; from mainstream, maintained Special, Independent Special to International Schools and now I have the privilege to lead a team of dedicated professionals who share our vision of re-imagining Special Education. Why is our school unique you might rightly ask? The answer is both simple and very complicated. It is a part of the way we look, we think and in everything we do.
I am often asked to sum up our school and what we offer. In all honesty I am probably not a talented enough writer to do justice to the incredibly dedicated and experienced teachers who work tirelessly to make a difference at our school. We are perhaps best looked at as a small, therapeutic, calm, creative space that mirrors a mainstream secondary. Our outcomes are the same, our expectations of success are the same but our approach is entirely different. We believe in success through nurturing, not through lowering our expectations. We do 'it' differently, but crucially we still do 'it'.
Our learners have a diagnosis of an ASD condition or present with needs that are comparable to that of a diagnosis. Our environment is ASD optimised and is a space full of soft colour, creativity, textures and interest. Our students will either achieve GCSE qualifications at KS4 or BTEC outcomes. Our sixth form offers A-Levels as well as level 2 BTECS. We are outcome and careers orientated. We expect our students to go on to work hard in their chosen fields, we are not here to pass time, we are here to support and shape productive hardworking adults of tomorrow.
We have challenges in our school of course. Our challenges move from the mundane, such as missing homework, to the far more serious, such as self-awareness and self-esteem. The missing homework we address through positive rewards and homework clubs. The more serious issues we address with sensitivity, nurture, role modelling and by genuinely caring. Many of our students will have left mainstream settings in what felt like difficult circumstances. It can take time to trust a school again but we are there for that journey.
If you think applying for a place at our school is right for your child then it is worth taking a moment to re-imagine your relationship with school as well. We collaborate with parents closely, through weekly reports to having a designated teacher who is always available to you, we are here to help you with the unexpected challenges of raising a neuro-diverse child. There is no point in us sending home books full of homework if your child sees 'home as home and school as school', or sanctioning your child for forgetting their pencil case if their conscious mind is pre-occupied with anxiety relating to social communication so they have no time left to worry about where the pencil case is! We will become partners in raising your child and are here to collaborate with you to support your child to not just succeed, but to flourish.
The final thing to think about before applying is that unfortunately, we can not meet the needs of every child.
If we tried to meet every child's needs we would fail to meet the needs of any child. Only in 15-20% of applications do we feel we have the expertise needed to make a valid and sincere offer. Our admissions process is detailed and thorough and has to be so to keep your child at the centre of the journey. We'll do everything we can, but unfortunately sometimes we just aren't the best option to support your brilliant, interesting and unique child.
Enough from me. Come meet us, look around, ask all the right questions. Are we an open-book? Probably more like an unusual magazine left on the coffee table with a strange stain in one corner. It should catch your eye and make you want to turn every last page till you get to the end, and then leaving you wanting more.