Westmorland School is an independent, specialist day school in Lancashire, providing high quality education for boys and girls aged 5 to 11. The school meets the needs of the pupils on the autistic spectrum and those requiring high levels of social and emotional support, alongside a range of other associated needs.
Who to contact
- Contact Name
- Sue Asher
- Contact Position
- Head Teacher
- 0125 727 88 99 0125 727 88 99
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Where to go
- PR7 3NQ
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What is the process to get a place at the school?
Parents are welcome to contact the school directly themselves if they would like to arrange a visit, however referrals are made to the school by the local authority (LA). The school will then read the paperwork and if they have capacity and can meet need, they will contact the LA to discuss the young person further and whether they can invite them in for a visit. Once the school has met the young person, if they are happy to offer a place they will let the LA know formally in writing and this will usually then need to go to panel.
If the place is accepted, someone from the school will come and do a home visit prior to the young person starting, to get any further paperwork signed, give them their school uniform and help to support that transition. New pupils can start any time throughout the school academic year as long as there is capacity within the school. Most young people travel to school via taxi.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Young people have an Education, Health, Care Plan (EHCP) from the local authority, usually with a primary need of either:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)
- Speech, Language and Communication Needs.
Our young people have a range of diagnoses including but not exhaustive of:
- ASD / AS
- Pathological Demand Avoidance
- Oppositional Defiance Disorder
- Attachment Disorders
- Specific LD – Dyslexia/Dyspraxia/Dyscalculia
What therapeutic support is there?
We have our own in-house therapy team which consists of Mental Health Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and Psychologists. All of these work between 1 and 5 days a week and are able to offer a variety of support depending on the needs of the young person. These can include undertaking assessments, specific training for staff, attending Internal Team Around the Child Meetings (ITACs), small group work with young people, providing therapeutic packages to be delivered throughout the day by teaching assistants and also direct 1 to 1 with the therapists themselves. This enables a much better, all round approach to supporting the young person throughout their school day.
What are the class structures?
Our classes follow the full national curriculum. Your child will have their own school iPad that they will use for the vast majority of their lessons. We recognise that many of our children are particularly interested/talented in areas of technology and science and have therefore focussed our future development in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Due to the complexity of needs of our children, our classes are based on needs rather than age or ability. This ensures your child receives the maximum support and care to enable them to learn to their full potential. Our class sizes are small, with a maximum of 8 pupils, with an adult to pupil ratio of 1:2 across the school.
The learning opportunities, activities and resources vary considerably from class to class to ensure that your child’s learning styles are being met and that they are being stretched academically with the most appropriate curriculum. Our classes are divided into the following areas:
BEARS (Becoming Emotionally Aware, Resilient and Sociable)
If your child has been assessed as requiring high needs in areas of social communication, resilience and/or sensory issues then they are likely to be in a class called Koalas or Pandas. These classes have a social communication curriculum throughout the day, which maximises their opportunities for social communication development. These lessons will be short, with limited verbal input and lessons tailored to their needs and interests.
If your child has medium needs in areas of social communication, resilience and/or sensory needs they are likely to be a Sun Bear or Polar Bear; these classes still use the social communication curriculum but in an environment which is now starting to provide more visual and auditory stimulus. There will be higher expectations of independence and self-control with the introduction of group work and whole class teaching sessions.
BIG CATS (Becoming Independent, Gaining Confidence, Achievement, Therapy, Success)
If your child is starting to show a greater level of resilience, with little to no social communication and sensory difficulties your child could move to our ‘half-way house’ class called ‘Leopards’. This class is the transition class between being a BEAR to becoming BIG CATS. They will still use the social communication curriculum but will be gradually introduced to more independence, visual and auditory stimulus in a ‘nurture style’ environment.
If your child has low needs in areas of social communication, resilience and no sensory issues but still has some emotional or social needs then they are likely to be a Jaguar or Panther. These classes are taught with more ‘mainstream’ expectations for concentration and independence.
All classes have homework, with tasks relevant to your child’s learning needs, they will have flexible deadlines to assist with their access to clubs and sporting activities too.
How does the school monitor the needs of young people to ensure they are getting the support they require?
When a referral is received the initial needs are gathered through reading the EHCP and accompanying paperwork, liaising with other professionals as required, as well as meeting with the young person and their family on a school visit.
During the young person’s initial 12 weeks at the school there will be baseline assessments carried out, which could include numeracy, literacy and wider curriculum needs, so that the school can gather fresh data on what level the young person is working at and staff will be informed to make sure work is tailored accordingly. They will also have therapeutic assessments were needed, following which sensory diets and other therapeutic supports are put in place. There is a 12-week Post Admission Review which the parents and SEN Officer are invited to, to discuss how their child is getting on at the school and their educational plan going forwards.
Every half term there is an Internal Team Around the Child (ITAC) meeting where all of the key professionals involved with that young person meet to discuss any progress, concerns and strategies which would best support that young person.
If a young person is receiving any therapeutic support, needs would also be shared with relevant staff to ensure appropriate training is given, or strategies are provided to make sure the young person is best supported throughout the school day.
Every year there is an Annual Review held, which both the parents/carers and SEN Officer are invited to and any other key professionals. At this Annual Review the progress of the young person is discussed as well as anything further that may need to be put in place. There is also an EHCP Review meeting that takes place in this Annual Review meeting at every key-stage transition period.
On top of this there are learning walks done throughout the term to monitor our teachers and teaching practices to ensure that we are providing the pupils with the best education we can. Witherslack Group also has a Quality Assurance and Monitoring Team who provide further advice, support and guidance around our teaching practices and pupil progress.
The Pastoral Care Team provide pastoral support to the pupils and families and attend any additional meetings, where needed. They will also be the first point of call to address any safeguarding concerns, attendance and support young people with anxieties and mental health needs.
What is the general school staff structure and what specialist training do they receive?
- Senior Leadership Team – Head Teacher, Deputy Head Teacher(s), Assistant Head Teacher(s), Head of Pastoral Care – oversee the running of the school, staff management, school curriculum and all safeguarding.
- Pastoral Care Team – Provide all behaviour support, support around medication, safeguarding concerns, attendance and general support for parents. They are also supported by the Safeguarding, Behaviour and Inclusion Team within Witherslack Group.
- Therapy Team - Mental Health Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and Psychologists (Educational or Forensic). They are also supervised and supported by the Clinical Services Team within Witherslack Group.
- Teachers – Teachers who teach a range of both academic and vocational subjects, including teachers of specialist subjects.
- Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) – Provide additional support to young people where needed. This may be through joining a specific lesson to provide extra support or through one to one and small group work for areas such as numeracy, literacy, social skills, CSE, restorative practice and recognising and managing emotions
- Teaching Assistants (TAs) – TAs are appointed to class groups therefore they will move around the school with the class throughout the day providing support, understanding and guidance.
- Admin, Maintenance and Catering Staff
All staff who work with young people receive training in Autism, ADHD, Attachment Disorders, PDA and further staff are also trained in other more specialised areas, such as Dyslexia, Social Skills, Anxiety etc. All staff also receive training in Positive Behaviour Support, Safeguarding, Team Teach, First Aid and GDPR, to name a few.
How does the school communicate with parents and keep them involved in their child’s schooling?
We place a great deal of importance on communicating effectively with all parents and carers as we appreciate that the majority of our young people arrive and leave school by taxi. Therefore, we have dedicated staff to help ensure excellent standards of communication with parents. All parents will receive regular phone calls or emails home or will use a home/school diary, depending on which format best suits the needs of the parents. We ensure that communication includes lots of positives and isn’t just done if there has been a difficult day.
Parents are also invited to attend a Post Admission Review in the first 12 weeks of their child starting at the school and subsequent Annual Reviews. There are also termly reports sent home on progress and targets. We have open days twice a year which offer you a chance to look at your child’s work and chat with their teacher, as well as seeing their performances. These are organised over three afternoons and you will receive an invite for your child’s ‘provision cluster’ afternoon. Parents are always welcome to ring in to speak to the Pastoral Care Team or to arrange a meeting to come into the school.
How do we support long taxi journeys?
Most of our young people come to school via taxi. Many of them will bring electronic devices to use on the journey which they can hand in to school on arrival. We also provide driver and escort training for a number of our LAs to help the drivers and escorts understand the needs of our young people and how best to support them on their journeys. All pupils can have breakfast when they arrive and during this time some may have a movement break built in or others may have time with a particular member of staff to talk about any anxieties before the day begins. This can be done again at the end of the day for those who need it. We work closely with our pupils and parents to best support these transitions.
Can they automatically transfer from Primary to Secondary do the LA still have to approve it?
If a young person is placed within one of our primary schools, then they will still need to be referred to the secondary school by the local authority and it is up to the LA as to whether they will transfer them, however the LA will take the parents’ preference into consideration and most of our young people do move up to our secondary school.
- Associated Cost
- Referral required
- Referral Details
The school operates a referral policy, usually initiated by the local authority. However, parents/carers can take a look round the school by contacting the school office direct to organise a visit.
- Other notes
What extra-curricular activities does the school offer?
All activities that your child attends with us have no extra cost, to ensure all children are included equally. We go to the pantomime every year and have end of year excursions all together, as well as numerous activities relating specifically to their learning.
Children will have breakfast time every morning, where they can play board games, chat to friends or take time to read. At break times there is a choice of different activities including climbing frames, a traversing wall, sensory garden, football, computer games and trikes. We have lunchtimes in class groups and with fun activities to follow.
Your child can attend our fun holiday clubs or reading camps and all Year 6 pupils will go to ‘Rock and River’ residential outdoor pursuit excursion which is the highlight of their final year.
At the beginning of every year we start with an ‘Outstanding Progress Party’ where we invite children who have made exceptional progress to a special meal after school with their close family members to celebrate their success. This is a really special event and something that everyone involved with at the school is really proud of.
All children are helped to settle into school with the appropriate transition and small class group. Our peer mentors work as buddies to ensure that your child is team supported during break times and lunchtimes, and with the support given by the tutor team opportunities are made to develop friends in the school quickly. Lots of work is done on developing the skills to be able to make friends and also on how to keep and develop friendships.
If you have further questions or you would like to arrange to visit the school, please contact our Head Teacher on 01257 278899