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

In the school’s most recent Ofsted inspection, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment was assessed as ‘Outstanding’.

Before your child starts at Lakeside we think it is really important that we get to know them and they are able to visit the school and find out what it is like and what they can expect.  We want both you and your child to be looking forward to the first day and we will do everything we can to make this possible.  We will spend time finding out what your child enjoys, what they are interested in and what you feel are their areas of strength and areas they need more help with.

We can arrange as many visits, taster days, home visits and meetings as you need.  We can even plan some home study or part-time study at first, so that your child can get used to their new school, new teachers and class mates.

During your child’s first 10 to 12 weeks at Lakeside, a range of baseline assessments take place to gain information about their cognition and learning needs, social, emotional and mental health needs, physical and/or sensory needs, and communication and interaction development.  This information is used to set individual outcomes for them, ensure that they are in the most suitable class, and to indicate which, if any, interventions are necessary.   These outcomes and your child’s progress will be monitored and we will assess their progress and report back to you regularly.

Your child will join an appropriate class, which will be small in terms of pupil numbers (maximum size 8), with high levels of staff support (minimum 1 Class Teacher and 1 Teaching Assistant).  However, if it was felt that your child needed additional 1:1 support, this can be provided.

All of our pupils, upon admission, are assessed by our Educational Psychologist/Assistant Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, and Occupational Therapist.  Although all of our pupils arrive at Lakeside School with an individual Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), we are able to identify any additional needs through our assessment and observation of pupils.

A ‘Positive Behaviour Support’ Plan will be written for your child. This identifies their needs, what strategies would be beneficial, and the level of pastoral support they might require and in what circumstances.  Any pupil who exhibits social, emotional and mental difficulties is provided with support, where necessary, from the teaching and support staff and from our Pastoral Team, who are based outside of the classroom and are dedicated to ensuring that our pupils feel safe, settled, calm and ready to learn.

All staff at Lakeside School receive training to meet the needs of the pupils at any given time. The Witherslack Group, of which Lakeside School is a part, provide a comprehensive induction programme for all new staff, which includes specific training which is tailored to support their role. All teaching and support staff receive induction and refresher training in a range of areas including Autistic Spectrum Disorders, positive behaviour support and de-escalation techniques. Additional training is provided to staff as and when necessary, in areas including curriculum development, child development and special educational needs (such as dyslexia, ASD, ADHD and attachment difficulties and early childhood trauma).

Being a special school for pupils with complex communication and learning difficulties, with associated challenging behaviours, our staff have a wealth of experience and knowledge in working with children with a range of diagnoses including Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Attachment Difficulties and Early Childhood Trauma, and Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties.  We have a Speech and Language Therapist who delivers individual and/or group therapy to pupils who are assessed as needing such intervention, and a full time Speech and Language Therapy Assistant who supports in the delivery of the Speech and Language sessions.  We have an Occupational Therapist who provides advice and support to teaching staff regarding any resources required to support pupils with their gross or fine motor skill development, and any sensory processing difficulties they may have.  Our Educational Psychologist/Assistant Psychologist carries out a range of assessments during the post-admission period, as and when necessary, and provides support and advice to teaching staff regarding pupils’ needs.

We make referrals, with consent, to external agencies where necessary, such as CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).  We are able to access, through the Witherslack Group, bereavement counsellors and play therapists, should the need arise.

We will tailor the curriculum to match your child’s needs, with work being differentiated according to need.  Your child will receive very high levels of support, including individual teaching sessions at times.  Pupils are entered for Key Stage SATs, with requests made for additional support where necessary.

Lakeside School follows the National Curriculum, supported by detailed schemes of work and policies for every subject.  The curriculum will give your child opportunities to excel in literacy, numeracy, science, computing, food technology, art, music, physical education, history, geography, modern foreign languages, religious education and PSHCE. There is significant emphasis placed on helping pupils to close gaps in their previous learning.  Your child will also participate in the Children’s Choice curriculum, where they are given opportunities to develop their skills and talents.

We regularly arrange for class visits to a range of places including various museums, theatres, places of worship and outdoor pursuit centres, in support of different curriculum areas.  Our comprehensive risk assessments identify any additional support needs pupils may have and all school trips are highly staffed with a ratio of at least 1 adult to 2 pupils.

How accessible is the school?

Lakeside School is accessible by wheel chair on the ground floor of the main building and in our additional classroom building.  There are also disabled parking spaces and accessible changing/toilet facilities available.  We also provide wheelchair accessible ramps and will always endeavour to make sure that we do our best in supporting pupils and parents with additional mobility needs in accessing the school.

We have members of teaching staff who hold a Master’s degree in Autism and a Master’s degree in Specific Learning Difficulties. We are able to assess pupils for dyslexic tendencies and are a ‘Dyslexia Friendly School’, providing the necessary resources for pupils and staff who require support in this area.   We received our Autism Accreditation with the National Autistic Society in April 2016, and continue to review our practice with NAS on a regular basis. We are also a member of National Association of Special Schools, who provide up to date information relating to any legislative changes in SEN.

Every possible effort is made to support parents and carers with disabilities to access the school and information from the school would be provided in a range of formats upon request.  Some school policies are accessible on the school website, others are available on request.

Your child will be given a handbook when they start to help them learn about the routine of the school including timings for the day, lesson information and reward systems.  The handbook will be adapted and personalised for your child.

We use a wide range of visual prompts, signs and pictures to support pupils’ learning and access to the curriculum, where appropriate.  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, ear defenders, pencil grips, sloped desk surfaces and acetate overlays. Sensory Diets are provided for pupils who require them.

Noise reduction has been addressed wherever reasonably possible e.g. muffled bell, carpet throughout the school.  If your child needs information provided in larger font sizes, we can easily do this or provide them with suitable visual aids.  We even offer a range of different furniture and sizes so that we can accommodate the individual needs of each pupil.  We also make use of the latest innovations in assistive teaching technology to support your child’s learning and to cater for their individual sensory and communications needs.

All children have a ‘Positive Behaviour Support’ Plan; this identifies their needs, what strategies would be beneficial, and the level of pastoral support they might require and in what circumstances.  Any pupil who exhibits social, emotional and mental health difficulties is provided with support, where necessary, 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. We have a Mental Health Practitioner who provides person-centred counselling for pupils who are in need of additional support emotionally and mentally.

If English is not the first language of your child we endeavour to provide a support assistant who speaks their language to support them in the classroom until your child can understand without support.

How does the school review and evaluate outcomes?

When your child starts at Lakeside School you will be involved in initial discussions about your child’s education and then these will continue on a regular basis, for example, through daily home-school diaries, Post Admission Review, Annual Reviews, Parents Evenings, and in the writing of Individual Education Plans. If you have any questions or concerns at any point about your child’s education, you can speak with one of the Senior Leadership Team, your child’s class teacher, or request a meeting to take place.

Your child will have targets set in each subject.  These will be realistic and achievable, but they will also challenge your child so that they can work towards reaching their full potential in each subject.  You will receive a report at the end of each term showing the progress made by your child.

The Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Pastoral Team, Senior Leadership Team, and SEN coordinator will all ensure that your child’s needs are reviewed regularly and are being met.  The targets in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) will also be regularly reviewed so that the level of support your child receives will be appropriate to their specific level of need. Our rigorous assessment system ensures that pupils’ progress is tracked and the necessary interventions are put in place to accelerate learning.

There is on-going liaison with parents in the form of a daily home-school diary, and telephone support where necessary with our Pastoral Team, should you wish to discuss any concerns you/they may have about your child.  You can contact us at any time and we will always do our best to answer any questions or address any concerns.

We arrange Annual Review meetings for our pupils where their Education, Health and Care Plans are reviewed. If it is felt that an EHCP requires reviewing in the interim period then an additional review can be arranged to suggest the necessary amendments, in conjunction with parents/carers, the local authority and the pupil.

We make transition plans for pupils moving in to Lakeside School from their previous provision, 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 assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of our provision through internal and external school improvement partner visits, moderation meetings, quality assurance monitoring visits and completing self-evaluation tasks, such as lesson observation analysis, learning walks and pupil progress data analysis.

How does the school keep pupils safe?

Pupil safety was classed as ‘Outstanding’ in the most recent school Ofsted inspection.

When your child starts at Lakeside School we will conduct a risk assessment, so that we can ensure that their safety is never compromised.  This assessment also takes into consideration information received prior to your child starting and during their first few days in the school.  The risk assessment is usually completed by the Pastoral Manager and Deputy of Pastoral Care.

All of our pupils travel to and from school in a vehicle with a driver and an escort.  When they arrive at school at the beginning of the school day, their escort brings them to the school doors and hands over to one of our school staff.  Likewise, at the end of the school day, school staff bring pupils from class to their escort ready to walk to their vehicle.  The vehicles have a designated area on which to park, pick up and drop off.

During break times and lunch times all Teaching Assistants, of which there are nineteen, and three pastoral 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, and where necessary assist with the cutting up of food etc.

Your child’s welfare and safety is of paramount importance at Lakeside School.  The ratio of staff to pupils is extremely high, both in school and when off site for PE lessons, such as swimming and gymnastics, and on school trips.  For each two pupils there is a minimum of one member of staff and several pupils have additional full time 1:1 assistants.

Although all pupils have an individual risk assessment, all staff are trained to be able to take further risk assessment should a situation warrant it, and measures are put in place to ensure that both pupils and staff’s safety is maintained. Any new risk that becomes apparent is then incorporated into the relevant pupil’s risk assessment.

We take bullying very seriously and have a zero-tolerance attitude.  We promote anti-bullying messages throughout the school and want all of our pupils to enjoy their time at Lakeside.  We make sure pupils know how to report any incidences of bullying, so we can deal with it quickly and effectively and promote anti-bullying initiatives in our day to day school activity.  We make sure that 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?

Our school’s approach to our pupils’ health and wellbeing was classed as ‘Outstanding’ in our most recent Ofsted inspection.

All medicines are stored in a locked cabinet within a lockable room, with access restricted to appropriate staff only who are trained in the administration of medication. When a pupil requires medicine, this is given following a strict procedure to ensure that everything is done properly and that it is all appropriately recorded.

All plans (IEPs, Positive Behaviour Support Plans) are drawn up in conjunction with the family and are all shared and approved.  This is done through phone calls, visits, parents evenings, review meetings etc.  We make sure that information is available to all appropriate staff and placed on the pupil’s file.

If your child is unwell during their time at school we will communicate with you and ensure that your child is well looked after and receives the correct medical support, if required.  The staff recruitment process checks all original qualifications prior to starting and all school staff undertake a comprehensive induction training programme including Safeguarding, Team Teach, Positive Behaviour Support, First Aid and Health and Safety.  Further training is able to be requested or identified through the staff performance development review process.  Staff have a vast amount and variety of experience and are able to coach and mentor each other to deal with needs that have been experienced before.  All staff undergo regular training on Autism and Dyslexia.

Your child will have access to a range of therapeutic support during their time at Lakeside School.  Dependent on their specific needs, this can include Speech and Language therapy, Occupational Therapy, Person-Centred Counselling, Lego Therapy and access to our Educational Psychologist/Assistant Psychologist.

How does the school communicate with parents?

Our school has positive and strong relationships with the parents and carers of our pupils.  Well before your child starts at Lakeside, you will be informed about who you are able to contact if you need anything, or if you have any questions or concerns.  In the first instance, the Pastoral Team are available to speak to and should you wish to speak to your child’s class teacher or another member of teaching staff, this can be arranged for either during a break-time or at the end of a school day.

You will always able to contact key personnel via telephone, however, should you wish to speak with somebody in person, you can contact the school and we will happily arrange this for you.  We always attempt to arrange a meeting as quickly as possible and this is almost always on the same day, often immediately, however this is dependent on staff commitments.

Prior to admission, a family handbook will be provided for you to share with your child.  This includes photographs of all members of staff, so that your child can become familiar with them before they start.

We discuss and share educational progress and outcomes with parents via our home-school diary, through end of term pupil progress reports, at Annual Review meetings, and at Parents Evenings. We ensure that parents know that they are welcome into school should they wish to discuss anything and will always do our best to arrange this at a convenient time for you.

We provide parental comment sheets at Annual Reviews and also send out annual parent questionnaires to allow you to give your opinion on the school and help us to identify areas that we might be able to improve upon.

At Lakeside we truly value the thoughts and opinions of our pupils and their parents and carers, even if it is about 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 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?

Everyone at Lakeside, whether that be staff, pupils or parents, are part of one team and we aim to work together to achieve the best for our young people.

We have a school council, which includes a pupil representative from each class and meets regularly to discuss pupil views and ideas. We implement at least two pupil ideas each year, generated by the school council or the annual pupil questionnaire.  We often ask pupils their opinion on various initiatives during assemblies and involve them in the planning of their activities.

In addition, we also have Eco and Fairtrade representatives who act as ambassadors in the community and provide a voice for their class on these issues.  At Lakeside, pupil voice is an important factor throughout the daily life of the school and is always welcomed. Your child will be able to be part of these groups and help to play a part in making Lakeside the best it can be.

We also encourage you to write comments in the Home/School diary, so that we always have a strong understanding between home and school.  We distribute parental questionnaires on an annual basis and will ask for your comments at your child’s post admission and annual reviews.

You will be invited to parent evenings and any other parental events that we hold.  This will be another opportunity to talk with us about your child and also discuss any thoughts you have about the school as a whole.  Due to the distance that many of our pupils travel from in order to get to Lakeside, 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 afternoons, 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 Lakeside School 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?

At Lakeside, we not only focus on supporting our pupils, but also their parents and wider family.  Help is available to you and your family, if and when needed, in completing forms and paperwork. This would usually be carried out by pastoral care staff and you will be made aware that this can be requested when you visit Lakeside, should the need arise.

You are able to access a range of information, advice and guidance through the school. The person who provides this help would depend on what information, advice or guidance was being requested and who was the most appropriate person to deliver the help.  Information is also available through the on-going literature and resources that we will provide and also our school website.

You will have access to a wide range of practical advice and support resources and will be invited to attend our parent events and advice workshops.  These focus on giving practical and helpful advice and tips on a variety of relevant issues, including behaviour, travelling, sleep problems and narrow diets.

Transport for your child is arranged between you, the local authority and the school.  Any matters which involve the welfare of your child during their journey to and from school are discussed and developed in consultation with you.  When children have fallen ill while in attendance and the parent is unable to collect them from school we have been able to transport the pupil home, if there are sufficient members of staff available to do so.   We can even provide transport for when you are due to attend school for your child’s annual review or other relevant visits.

When you are planning for your child’s future including options for their next school, we can provide guidance and support, arranging visits if needed.  We want to do all we can to ensure that your child’s future is one of success and happiness.

How does the school support new pupils and school leavers?

Before you start at Lakeside, you and your child will be invited to look around and meet the staff and other pupils.  We can arrange a number of visits if your child is particularly anxious about joining Lakeside, and your child will be invited to visit and stay for a short session before starting school. Sometimes, pupils come for several short visits prior to starting full time, particularly if they have been out of school for an extended period of time prior to coming to Lakeside.  We can even visit you and your child in your home setting, so that you can get to know us and discuss starting at Lakeside in a familiar and relaxing environment.

We gather as much relevant information as possible about your child’s needs from you, the local authority, and your child’s previous school setting, if applicable.  We hold staff meetings to inform all staff of any particular information that is pertinent to each child to help their move go as smoothly as possible.  We want your child to enjoy their time at our school, right from day one.

We arrange a Post-Admission Review to take place 10-12 weeks after starting to discuss your child’s progress and how well they have settled in to their new school.  At this meeting, advice from the Senior Leadership Team, Class Teacher, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Educational Psychologist/Assistant Psychologist are discussed and we ensure that everyone is working in partnership to achieve the best outcomes for your child.

When your child starts at Lakeside, it is possible that they may be feeling anxious or nervous about their new school, and that they may become frustrated or emotional at times during their first few days or weeks at Lakeside.  There is excellent pastoral support offered to pupils who may be struggling to express their anxieties or emotions, in the form of our Pastoral Team, who are based outside of the classroom and are dedicated to ensuring that our pupils feel safe, settled, calm and ready to learn.  We will do all we can to help your child settle in as quickly and easily as possible.

We support pupils who are moving on to new school settings by providing transition opportunities in their new settings.  These can include open days, taster afternoons and graduated transition programmes over a period of 6 weeks, building up length and frequency of visits.  The level of transition is always dependant on the pupil’s individual needs and how much support is required for their move to be successful.  The transition plan is drawn up in partnership with you and your child, the new school setting and the specialist staff working with your child, to ensure that they enjoy a smooth transition.

Once you have visited the new school, transition days take place, firstly with a member of staff from Lakeside who the child knows well and feels comfortable with, until they are comfortable to spend time in their new school with the support of the new school staff rather than Lakeside’s staff.  A child will have as many or as few transition days as they, their parents and the new school feel are needed/appropriate for their move to be as smooth and successful as possible.

Your child will be encouraged to discuss with any anxieties or concerns they have about their move, and these are then communicated to their new school so that additional support can be provided should it be needed.  Pupils openly talk with one another about their transition days and what they are looking forward to about their new schools, as well as any worries they might have.  We are delighted when past pupils often visit to let current pupils know about their new school, which can be a great help to pupils preparing for their future move to a new school.

During their time at Lakeside, your child will be supported through daily activities to develop increasing levels of independence and to become responsible for their actions and ultimately good citizens.  Wherever appropriate, they interact with the community and are encouraged to participate in worthwhile activities.

Your child will access the full National Curriculum, with whatever support is necessary, thereby preparing them for their adult life by providing them with the skills they will need to seek and gain employment and for independent living.  In addition, through our Children’s Choice curriculum, our pupils are encouraged to further develop skills which they already feel they possess, with a view to supporting them to gain employment in a desired field or to develop a leisure activity which they can carry through to adult life.

What extra-curricular activities does the school offer?

We offer a range of extra-curricular activities at Lakeside School, including football, chess, golf, fishing, cookery, rugby, trampolining, horse riding, fitness, yoga, survival skills, film making, photography and tennis. These are all offered as part of a pupil’s placement at Lakeside, and do not incur any additional fees for you to pay.

All of our pupils have access to all of our clubs, activities and residential trips.  Pupils are given the option to participate in these activities and are given a choice of activities which leads to them selecting a club or activity best suited to their interests and talents.

A great amount of work is carried out to support children in making friends.  All of our teaching support staff supervise and model social situations thereby encouraging the children to develop the ability to make friends, which in turn allows them to enjoy their time at school even more.

If you have further questions or you would like to arrange to visit the school, please contact our Head Teacher on 0151 487 7211.