St John's Catholic School is a centre of excellence for sensory and communication needs for pupils aged 4-19. It is a school where spoken language is used, and where every young person communicates equally and successfully with others. We encourage and nurture ambition, self-esteem and confidence in all pupils.
The school offers a broad and balanced curriculum offering the opportunity to take GCSEs, entry level qualifications and a wide range of vocational courses. Older pupils attend the well-established sixth form, where courses are hosted in local FE colleges and pupils are supported by qualified and experienced learning mentors. We accept day and weekly boarding pupils, and welcome pupils of all faiths and denominations.
All pupils are taught by teachers with additional qualifications and a range of specialisms including hearing and language impairment, autism, learning difficulties and dyslexia. The school classrooms are acoustically treated and benefit from Soundfield technology. There is a resident audiologist and health and medical needs are coordinated by the school nurse and supported by a programme of personal, social and health education. There are strong links with the local child and adolescent mental health team who specialise in working with deaf young people.
We have a team of highly specialised speech and language therapists who deliver both individual and group therapy sessions to all pupils. The therapists work with staff across the whole school and maintain close contact with parents, so everyone is clear how to maximise pupils' progress.
Teaching is tailored to pupils' individual needs by specialist teachers and a broad and imaginative curriculum inspires creative and enthusiastic learners. Indoor and outdoor zones provide a vibrant learning environment, and there are sensory and soft play rooms for sensory integration. Primary pupils enjoy regular learning and social opportunities at neighbouring schools and take part in an extensive programme of enrichment activities.
There is a high level of personalisation in the curriculum for secondary pupils and a range of subjects can be studied at different levels, from entry level to GCSEs and their equivalent. The development of literacy and numeracy is a key priority, and this is achieved through intensive specialist teaching in small classes. As well as traditional academic subjects, our curriculum provides a strong focus on creative and practical subjects that develop social communication and other essential skills for future adult life.
The sixth form offers our students the opportunity to study a wide range of academic and vocational courses linked to two local colleges. Students have full time support from learning mentors who are all trained to support the communication needs and learning of our students. Linking with mainstream colleges helps students build wider friendship groups and offers new social opportunities.
The sixth form residential setting provides a full life-skills programme which is accessible for young people with a range of additional needs such as visual impairments. By the end of their time at St John's, students have well-developed independence skills for adult life.
The curriculum is organised with a focus on personal development and outdoor learning is a key aspect of our pupils' learning experiences. Our careers programme is designed to expand young people's knowledge of the world and raise their aspirations. These young people are supported by expert staff, and learning concentrates on presenting meaningful experiences that avoid sensory overload. Communication systems are built around the child's preferences, including PECs (Picture Exchange Communication system), Makaton, hand over hand signing and computer aided systems.
The residential areas are homely and welcoming. Young people who board live in small family units and are looked after by an experienced and knowledgeable staff team, who help them to form positive relationships and develop negotiation and co-operation skills. There is a full programme of leisure activities, and children have the opportunity to participate in local clubs and sports societies. The school offers weekly or flexiboarding, and all students go home every weekend. In 2019 our residential care was rated as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted.
Home school links
Very close links with families are maintained, with updates on progress and achievements through frequent emails and phone calls home. Parents are always welcome to visit the school, and are kept up to date with activities by the half termly newsletter.
The school is within walking distance of the elegant and vibrant Georgian village of Boston Spa, where there are shops, cafés and parks. The extensive buildings are well-equipped and include a gym with specialist fitness equipment, a purpose built theatre and sound recording room, a fully stocked library, an IT suite and a number of sensory rooms. The grounds are perfect for sports and leisure activities, with marked pitches, a hard surface multi-sport area and a newly-developed sensory garden.