Including our young people
Though we are a special school, we want to ensure that our young people access to at least as many opportunities as other young people without SEN. We have strong links with a range of local secondary and primary schools, and a significant number of our pupils are included in educational or social opportunities. For example, pupils who are particularly gifted in a given area may study for GCSEs in certain subjects in a neighbouring secondary school. Other pupils have regular sessions working in fundraising partnerships with another Catholic secondary school. St John’s pupils have opportunities to take part in regular work experience and enterprise opportunities. Pupils take part in high quality performing arts opportunities including through the Shakespeare Schools Festival We have a rich programme of extra – curricular activities including residential trips to, for example, youth hostels in Wales.
We are an active partner in our local Catholic deanery of schools, joining with mainstream pupils and students in liturgical celebrations. We are proud of the way in which our young people, even those with the most complex needs, participate in our masses and sacraments, and through the school are prepared for the next stages in their development of faith.
The majority of our 6th Form pupils also have opportunities to experience mainstream college placements, including through local mainstream and more specialist college settings.
Support for developing emotional and social skills
Many of our young people have emotional and behaviour needs linked in some cases to their disabilities. Many have failed in mainstream schools and many have very complex family circumstances. We have a range of mechanisms for helping to support and develop pupils’ emotional well- being. These include the input of our skilled tea of learning and behaviour mentors who provide targeted input and guidance to individuals and groups of pupils and their parents The mentors provide teaching sessions including around keeping safe and sex and relationships education.
We regularly involve partners from outside of the organisation including CAMHS, and will support and signpost parents in gaining further specialist advice.
We offer a comprehensive support programme for parents and carers, including on topics such as sex and relationships, keeping safe and behaviour management.
We hold regular paediatrician clinics on site where concerns can be aired. There are good systems of communication throughout the school and staff utilise technologies including Behaviour Watch to track and monitor behaviour.
All of this operates within a culture and ethos which has at its heart keeping pupils safe and happy. Pupils and their families are encouraged to share and voice their concerns. Bullying and racism is rare, and dealt with firmly. As a result we believe that pupils feel safe and can trust adults to look after them and care for them.
Working with other partners
We recognise that effective partnerships with all appropriate agencies will optimise outcomes for our young people and their families. We are swift to refer to external agencies such as CAMHS and social care when we feel it would be helpful. We have young people placed with us from 11 local authorities, and work hard to establish positive relationships with their representatives. We refer formally outside of the institution including through safeguarding protocols, but we will also talk to other partners informally for advice and guidance.
We work with a range of voluntary sector organisations, including parent support charities, and therapeutic agencies, to secure direct input for young people and their families.
We also work collaboratively with a range of mainstream and special schools locally to develop and share good practice.
And if things aren’t going so well?
We want you and your young people to be happy at St John’s and to thrive and make progress. Very occasionally, things may happen that you may be concerned over. Whatever this may be, please free to contact us so that issues can be resolved quickly. You may wish to contact your young person’s class teacher, in the first instance, who along with the rest of the class team, are the people usually best placed to have an overview of everything going on. You may also wish to discuss the matter with the relevant senior leader. If your concerns are of a serious nature, including of a safeguarding nature, it may be more appropriate to contact the head teacher or deputy head. It is usually easier to put any concerns in writing at this stage. If your issue is to do with the head teacher, you have the right to contact the Chair Of Governors, care of the school office.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]