Celebrating our ‘Outstanding’ success

Posted on 23rd Oct 2018 in School News, Autism, Emotional and behavioural difficulties, Learning difficulties

Catherine Garton, Headteacher of Kirby Moor School in Cumbria, reflects on the school’s achievements...

My staff team are experienced in working with pupils who have encountered negative experiences at previous educational settings. Positive encouragement and learning experiences are reinforced in every area of the school to enable every young person to feel included and very much a part of our school. It is important that we instil a sense of pride and belonging for every young person to encourage a positive experience in education and give them aspirations and goals to achieve both now and in the future.

We work with students who benefit from a much smaller setting, with greater predictability and more intensive support available, pupils may have one or more of the following: autism, attachment disorders, anxiety issues, learning difficulties & SEMH needs. Our aim is to achieve academic, social and emotional progress. We want to prepare our students for future independent lives.

We believe that education is about developing the whole person, by meeting the physical, emotional, spiritual and social, as well as their academic learning needs. We are committed to making a positive impact on young people’s lives and helping them to become the person they want to be. Planning engaging activities helps our pupils develop knowledge and skills, resulting in more self-confident pupils ready for more independent futures.

Assessment is a very important tool in ensuring the individual pupils are making good progress and any areas of difficulty are quickly addressed. The teachers here are very adept at using a large variety of assessment tools, which minimise any stress to the pupils but ensure a very clear picture is created of each pupil, their strengths and areas we need to address or support. Pupils are supported by individual programmes and planning. This ensures that our pupils are always being taught at the level which leads them to thrive. We have an active elected school council, football and cross-country teams.

“Teachers make sure that older pupils gain qualifications as they move through the school so they are well equipped for their next steps at whatever point they move on. For younger pupils, the school works intensively with them to unpick and address presenting issues. This helps teachers to identify the most suitable next steps for these pupils.” – Ofsted Outstanding.

Recent Developments

  • Field studies trips to enhance Key Stage 3&4 Geography and History.
  • Specialising the Herdley Bank centre for pupils to “get ready to learn and to engage through creative approaches to the National Curriculum”.

Our therapeutic model is based upon:

  • The Whole Brain Child approach of Dan Sigal.
  • Staff support pupils adopting the PACE approach: Patience, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.
  • Therapeutic Parenting.

This blend encourages pupils to: think, understand emotional based responses, make new choices and it aids emotional regulation. A team of psychotherapists can offer 1:1 play, art, drama and equine therapy for our young people.

Post 16 transitions

The school has links with local colleges. We work closely on transition programs for our young people. We work closely with our young people and the student support teams in the colleges to ensure the pupils are as prepared as they can be for the move. The process for our staff starts when the pupils are in year 9. We ensure we are planning for the pupils at a level which they are capable of achieving. Meetings with the Pastoral Lead and career advisor sessions help to focus our young people on achievable yet challenging goals for their futures.

The practical process usually begins in year 10 where the pupils visit colleges and talk about the courses they may enjoy. They then look at the requirements for entry and which support they would continue to need once at college.

In year 11 we look at a series of visits, then college sessions (in lesson and social times), talks with student support teams and the more formal requests for support through EHCP. For those pupils who are moving back to their own Local areas away from Cumbria we mirror the same support. We arrange a series of meetings to coordinate with home contact at weekends.

Outdoor education

Pupils enjoy outdoor education throughout the year. The days are planned with individual ability and fitness taken into account but the main focus is placed on fun and team building. Each pupil has one day of outdoor education per half term, going out in small groups. Activities include: mountain biking, climbing, orienteering, bush craft, dry ski slope skiing and hill walking.

Kirby Moor School gained Outstanding by Ofsted in December 2017, in all areas:

Effectiveness of leadership and management:

“The headteacher sets exceptionally high standards for both pupils and staff. The increased focus on academic performance is paying dividends. Parents are delighted by the positive difference the school has made to their children.”

Quality of teaching, learning and assessment:

“Teachers know their pupils very well. They plan tasks which engage and enthuse pupils. Comprehensive assessments when pupils join the school help teachers accurately identify gaps in pupils’ learning.”

Personal development, behaviour and welfare:

“Leaders make sure that the curriculum provides a wealth of opportunities for pupils to learn how to keep themselves safe. The pastoral manager works closely with every pupil to prepare meticulously for their next steps.

Outcomes For Pupils:

“Kirby Moor succeeds with pupils where many other schools have failed. Teachers are adept at developing personalised pathways for pupils so that they fill gaps and acquire knowledge and skills relevant to their own circumstances.”