What is the school’s approach to teaching and learning?

At Chilworth House School we follow the primary national curriculum as a base for a creative curriculum that is individualised to the needs of all our learners. Our approach is to develop strong relationships with learners who will have often had challenging earlier experiences of education. In doing so we identify and address the many potential barriers to engagement including social communication difficulties, speech and language communication difficulties, anxiety, gaps in learning and physical and sensory difficulties.

An essential element of our curriculum is the many formal and informal opportunities used to develop social communication skills. This ranges from specific lessons focusing on key skills to communal opportunities, such as lunchtime, peer to peer mentoring and an effective reflection process to support individuals.

We are privileged to be located in a beautiful rural setting on a site with over four acres of land. In all areas of our curriculum we utilise our indoor and outdoor space to promote learning.

Our aim is that all pupils will have outstanding outcomes delivered through excellent teaching and learning in class. On arrival pupils are assessed to immediately identify current attainment, support teaching strategies and identify gaps in learning. At this point, pupils are identified by the SENCo for additional assessments by our therapy team (Educational Psychologist, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and Mental Health Practitioners). From this point challenging but achievable targets are set for each learner to enable them to close the gap on both age expectations and pupil potential.

Due to high staff ratios and low class sizes, educational and therapeutic programmes, bespoke to each child, are facilitated within the class, such as precision teaching, guided reading, mastery of key learning concepts, fine motor activities, Speech and Language Therapy programmes and sensory diets. Ongoing assessments enable us to respond to the needs of each learner and, where necessary, pupils may receive additional interventions led by a specialist teacher or therapist.

Key to the success of class based and additional interventions is the specialist training by our therapy team and highly experienced teaching staff. This allows for the ongoing development of an expertly trained group of staff who are able to use a wide range of strategies to support groups and individual pupils. In addition to this, staff attend a range of external accredited training in response to the needs of our pupils.

We have an onsite pastoral care team who support pupils throughout the day. They communicate with parents and professionals to ensure that pupils get the support they need and that parents receive excellent support.

Critical to our work is a focus on developing pupils’ self-esteem. We do this through regular and effective praise, reward activities and recognition of expected and above expected behaviour through statuses and merit awards. Pupils are able to earn points for good behaviour and work, these are then banked on the Vivo system which can be used to buy prizes. Pupil points also lead to weekly rewards sessions on Friday afternoons, which might include Forest Schools, Computer Club and visits to an offsite activity centre.

How accessible is the school?

Chilworth House is located in four acres of beautiful land near Wheatley in Oxfordshire. The building is a converted family home which has been refurbished to a high standard, whilst still retaining its homely feel. The school is less than 1 mile from junction 8A of the M40 with easy access from the local area. All pupils travel to school by taxi and attend a breakfast club on arrival.

Information about the school is easily accessible through the school website, where you can find information about the school, policies and recent events. Information for pupils such as school rules, timetables, menus and rewards are displayed on walls around the school and in all classrooms. Policies and procedures can be obtained through the school website and on request from the school office.  Information from the school can be provided in a range of formats, upon request.

During their initial home visit from our Pastoral Care Team, pupils learn about the routine of the school including timings for the day, lesson information and reward systems.  We can adapt this to the needs of any pupil, using symbols or pictures if necessary to support understanding.

We want to work with our parents as much as possible to build an effective team around the child. At Chilworth House School our Pastoral Care Team work closely with our teaching staff, parents and carers to ensure there is always dialogue between home and school so that pupils are supported to achieve their goals.

Where appropriate, we use a wide range of visual prompts, signs and pictures to support pupils’ learning and access to the curriculum. In addition, we use ICT software designed specifically for learning needs and dyslexia friendly approaches to alleviate barriers to learning.

All of our pupils are assessed by our Occupational Therapist on admission and, if required, a range of materials are used to aid learning e.g. balance boards for feet, pencil grips, sloped desk surfaces and acetate overlays.

We are conscious of the impact of the environment for our pupils and so provide strategies to enable pupils to self-regulate when challenged by their sensory needs. We attempt to reduce noise, where appropriate, are conscious of over stimulation in our classrooms and provide individualised seating and movement plans in response to the needs of our pupils.

All children have a ‘My Support Plan’ which they contribute towards, this identifies the level of pastoral support they might require and in what circumstances.  Any pupil who exhibits social, emotional, psychological or behavioural difficulties is provided with support from the teaching and support staff and from our Pastoral Care Team, who are based outside of the classroom and are dedicated to ensuring that our pupils feel safe, settled, calm and ready to learn.

If English is not the first language for a pupil we endeavor to provide a support assistant who speaks their language to support them in the classroom until such time as they can understand without support.

How does the school review and evaluate outcomes?

We want you to be aware and involved in all aspects of your child’s education. We will initially discuss your child’s education at the post admission review after 6 weeks but we would like this to be an ongoing dialogue through daily home school diaries, regular phone calls, annual reviews, parents evenings and in the writing of Individual Care and Education plans. If you have questions, concerns about or contributions towards your child’s education then you can speak with the Senior Leadership Team, the Pastoral Team, class staff or ask for a meeting to be arranged.

Many of our pupils will join us working at a level of attainment below their age expectations. We believe in closing the gap on these expectations and/or the child’s potential. In doing so we set termly targets in each subject which are both achievable and challenging, and support your child in working towards these. At the end of each term you will receive a report showing the progress your child has made in each subject.

We have a rigorous assessment system which is used to ensure that pupil progress is accurately tracked and responded to, to promote pupil progress and accelerate learning. Progress is reviewed regularly by class staff, pastoral care staff and the SENCo and Senior Leadership Team. Academic progress is moderated regularly in weekly education meetings and data is analysed to inform planning for additional 1:1 and small group interventions designed to close the gap on age expectations of extend potential. Wider targets are reviewed termly through Individual Care and Education Plans which you will be involved in assessing.

We make transition plans for pupils moving into school and for those moving on to their next school, which include regular supported visits and appropriate handover of information to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible.  We know that starting a new school is an anxious time and we ensure that this challenging time is supported with care and empathy

We carry out comprehensive assessments and evaluations of the effectiveness of our provision. These are done through internal and external school improvement partner visits, moderation meetings, quality assurance monitoring visits and completing self-evaluation tasks.

How does the school keep pupils safe?

As soon as your child arrives at Chilworth House School we will create a personalised risk assessment which will take in to consideration the information we receive from you, your child’s previous school, and our own observations. This will be reviewed and updated regularly by class staff in response to any changes in your child’s needs.

In addition to these individual risk assessments, each pupil will also have an individualised ‘My Support Plan’ which will outline the most appropriate strategies that we can provide your child with when they find things difficult. This is also updated regularly by class staff and in ‘Internal Team Around the Child’ meetings which happen termly for each pupil.

All of our pupils travel to and from school in a vehicle with a driver and an escort. We ensure safety in these vehicles by regularly checking the license details, employee registration and identification of all local authority transport staff. In addition, we faciltate training for local authority drivers and escorts to support them with behaviour management strategies. When they arrive at school they are safely escorted through the car park, where staff greet them.  Likewise, at the end of the school day, school staff bring pupils from class safely to their vehicles.  The vehicles have a designated area on which to park, pick up and drop off.

The safety and wellbeing of your child is extremely important to us. We have very high staff to pupil ratios which enable us to ensure pupils are safe at school and when taking part in offsite education and reward trips. In all classes there is a minimum of one adult per two pupils and when needed this is increased.

During break times and lunch times all teaching assistants, of which there are twelve, and two pastoral care staff, provide supervision of pupils on the various play areas.  At lunch time all staff sit at the lunch tables and eat with the pupils, helping them develop social skills and good table manners.

We have a zero tolerance policy on bullying. We want all our pupils to feel happy and safe at school and in doing so we promote positivity between pupils through our anti-bullying group ‘The Friendship Finders’. A pupil from each class is elected and takes responsibility to promote positive choices around the school and the group award positive behaviour in assemblies. In addition, each year we dedicate a week to anti-bullying and using power for good. We make sure pupils know how to report any incidences of bullying, so we can deal with it quickly and effectively. Our Anti-Bullying Policy can be found on the school website and is available as a hard-copy upon request at our school office.

How does the school promote a healthy lifestyle?

Before your child joins Chilworth House a member of our Pastoral Care Team will contact you to organise a home visit. During this meeting they will discuss any dietary needs, care needs, medical issues and what medication is prescribed. This information will then be shared with class staff and a care plan is designed to ensure that all needs are catered for.

All our staff team have regular training in administering medication and First Aid and are therefore able to manage most medical issues onsite. If your child needs medication in school it will be locked away in the pastoral office and given to your child at the correct time by a member of our Pastoral Team or class staff.

Wherever possible we will care for a sick child at school in our pastoral care office. However, there will be times when it may be more appropriate for them to come home and we would organise this with you.  Similarly, in case of emergency we are very close to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and that is where we would take your child, whilst ringing you to let you know what has happened.  If your child has had a bump or fall on the playground, or in an activity, the Pastoral Team will give you a ring to let you know what has happened and keep you informed.

Our Cook in Charge, prepares a range of hot food every day and a salad bar is also available. We encourage all our pupils to try new foods and eat a healthy, balanced diet. This is reinforced by elements of our curriculum which focus on healthy eating and healthy life style choices.

Your child will have access to a range of therapeutic support during their time at Chilworth House.  Dependent on their specific needs, this can include Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and access to our Educational Psychologist or Mental Health Practitioners.

How does the school communicate with parents?

At Chilworth House School, we believe that our relationships with parents are essential in meeting the needs of our pupils. We want to work together as a team and ensure that communication between home and school is positive, regular and effective in supporting your child’s academic and social progress.

We will issue your child with a home/school diary which will give you a daily summary of your child’s day. If you would like us to call you for any reason you can use the diary to request this and we wall call as soon as possible. Class staff contact parents regularly to provide a general update on any progress or difficulties but you can request that this is even more frequent if needed. At the end of every term you will receive a detailed report on your child’s social and academic progress across the curriculum.

In addition to this, you will be invited to a post admission review approximately 6 weeks after your child starts school and then an annual review every year following this. You will receive a full report before and you and your child will have a form to complete with your views ready for the meeting.

The thoughts and opinions of our pupils and their parents and carers are essential in ensuring that we improve as a school, this is especially true when there is an issue that you feel that we have not dealt with well.  When your child joins the school we will make you aware of our complaints procedure and let you know how we will respond to any complaints you may have.  You can also give verbal feedback to the school at any time.

We conduct annual parental surveys to understand what we are doing well and what areas we can improve.  We want to ensure that you are able to share your views and help us deliver the highest possible standards of education, care and support for your child.

We understand the importance of confidentiality and operate to the highest standards possible to ensure that we communicate with you in an appropriate, considerate and confidential manner around all aspects of your child’s education and care.

How does the school promote working together?

Working together as a team is hugely important in ensuring the best possible outcomes for our pupils. We aim for the staff, pupils and parents to be part of one team that works together to achieve this through communicating well and supporting each other.

It is essential that we have regular communication through our home/school diary so that we have a shared understanding of your child’s needs and can respond to any changes/difficulties that may occur in everyday life.

Each term a pupil representative from each class is elected to be part of the school council. They meet regularly to discuss pupil views and ideas and put forward developments for the school development plan. We often ask pupils their opinion on various initiatives through annual questionnaires and during assemblies, and involve them in the planning of their activities.

In addition to the School Council, we have the Friendship Finders and Pupil Peer Mentors. Both groups look for and model positive behaviour and find ways for the pupils to work together to make their time at school happy, safe and fun.

Due to the distance that many of our pupils travel from in order to get to Chilworth House, it is quite difficult for many parents to come in to school frequently.  However, we do invite parents in to school for Sports Day, Christmas performances, open mornings, and other special events that we hold throughout the year.

We encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our school web page.  These offer a fantastic way to keep up to date with what is happening at the school and read about the latest trips, activities and achievements of the pupils.

We work closely with other relevant and important external bodies.  Our Chilworth House Board, which serves as our governing body, involves any appropriate agencies in meeting the needs of our pupils and supporting their families, such as social care and CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

What help and support does the school offer to families?

Before your child joins our school a member of the Pastoral Care Team will visit you and you can share with us any concerns that you may have about school, home life or transportation between both. We have worked with many families and believe in developing a strong relationship to understand and support the needs of our pupils. Our Pastoral Care Team are central to this and are readily available throughout the school day.

Throughout your child’s time with us you will be able to access a range of information, advice and guidance through the school. We offer a wide range of support and advice from our Therapy Team. This may include the opportunity for you and your family to have access to our Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapist and Counsellors.

Information is also available through the on-going literature and resources that we will provide and also our school website, and we also put on termly events designed to support parents whose children have a diverse range of needs, including ADHD and Autism.

Our school works with local authorities to provide transport to and from school and to ensure that your child is well supported on their journey at the start and end of the day. We understand the importance of the start and finish of the day and know that this sets the climate for learning and returning home. Skilled, trained and experienced staff make sure that this is done in a safe and positive manner.

How does the school support new pupils and school leavers?

We understand that most of our pupils will have had challenging experiences in previous education settings and strive to break this cycle by providing positive experiences for new pupils as they join the school. Our focus at this point is to develop positive relationships between your child, staff and peers to enable them to feel comfortable in their new school and confident enough to take part in school activities.

To enable this we work closely with you, your child, external professionals and previous schools to develop a transition plan which is responsive to the needs of your child. Many pupils will join us full time immediately after a home visit and then join their class after an introductory morning with the Pastoral Care Team.  However, we are always flexible to the needs of your child and can provide the following:

  • Additional home visits and taster days
  • A part time timetable with length/number of days gradually increasing over a number of weeks
  • 1:1 support from pastoral care/class staff on entry
  • A gradual transition from 1:1 sessions to class room attendance
  • Gradual integration in to whole school activities such as lunch and whole school assemblies
  • Provision of an alternative curriculum tailored to the needs of the child

Our transition of new pupils has been very successful and they generally settle positively into their new school as a result. We have learnt from this in our development of transition plans for our Year 6 pupils moving on to secondary provisions.

The majority of our pupils will transition to our nearby secondary school, Chilworth House Upper School. The school is located at the other side of our school fields and this affords us the opportunity to provide a gradual transition for all pupils throughout the summer term, as well as individualised plans for some pupils. This will involve Year 7 visits and joint activities on our site before pupils taking part in gradually more formalised activities at Chilworth House School.

Due to the close working relationship we have between sites, and our joint therapy provision, we are able to share approaches effectively to ensure a positive transition for our pupils. In addition, our pupils will already know some secondary pupils through our peer mentoring scheme, Year 10/11 work experience and shared sports and enrichment activity opportunities.

When pupils transition to alternative secondary provisions we make this a success through working closely with the new school to plan a range of activities, appropriate to the needs of the pupil. This will always be supported by members of our staff to relieve any anxieties and we will do additional work with pupils on site to support them. For example, social stories, email links and use of IT to create virtual tours of their future school.

What extra-curricular activities does the school offer?

We believe in broadening pupils experiences during their time at Chilworth House School and know that to do this extra-curricular activities are essential in developing the whole child. We see it as our role to enable pupils to be successful in these areas so that they can go on to enjoy a range of activities throughout their lives. As such, all our pupils will be encouraged to take part in whole school events and all will have access to multiple educational and reward trips throughout the year. We organise overnight camps in the school grounds, visits to outward bound centres and, at the end of Year 6, a residential trip to a nearby activity centre.

We offer a range of extra-curricular activities onsite which take place during break and lunchtime and include football, rugby, tennis, basketball, dance club and walking club. As well as offering alternatives such as Lego club, story club, ICT and board games.

In addition, pupils work towards weekly enrichment activities through earning points for their work and behaviour. These take place on Friday afternoons and include gardening, cooking, ICT, sports activities, Forest Schools and offsite visit to a local activity and soft play centre.

We work hard to support our pupils in developing positive relationships with each other. We do this through close supervision of our pupils during recreation time and through modelling of social situations in social skills lessons, our values curriculum and in reflection time. In doing so we develop our pupils ability to make friends and enjoy their time at school with each other.

If you would like further information or would like to arrange a visit to the school, please contact our Head Teacher on 01844 339 077.