Local Offer and SEN Information Report

Dee Banks School is a well established all age special school which seeks to provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum for pupils with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) and Severe Autism (ASD/SLD). It groups pupils according to their pre-eminent needs and approximately according to their age groups. There is considerable emphasis upon behaviour management and personal and social education to prepare the young people to take their place in society and contribute to their community. The pupil voice is encouraged through the School Council and older pupils are encouraged to have a sense of responsibility across the school community through internal work experience programmes and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. There is a brief act of collective worship every day in preparation for lunch and a weekly whole school assembly on a Friday where achievements are celebrated. Every term there is at least one act of collective worship for the whole school community including parents, governors and friends of the school. These are often based loosely around the festivals of Harvest, Christmas and Easter with a celebration of the whole year in the summer. Regular charitable events such as ‘Children in Need’ take place throughout the year.  The school is an international school with strong links with partner schools in Germany, South Africa and Namibia.

Dee Banks School only admits pupils with EHC Plans or statements. In very rare cases, the school might be asked to host a student whose EHC Plan is being prepared. If parents/Carers have concerns, they may raise those directly with the Headteacher or the class staff. The school has a reasonably open door policy so that Parents/ carers can have access to discussion at any time within reason.

Dee Banks School admits a wider variety of pupils directed to us by the Local Authority. All pupils have complex to severe needs. The school specialises in teaching young people aged 2.5 to 19 with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Severe Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties (ASD/SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and Disabilities and Medical needs (PMLD). In recent times, the school has developed an interest in multisensory impairment (MSI).

Dee Banks is an excellent special school with a long track record of meeting the needs of some very complex children. It has been judged as outstanding since the Ofsted inspection of March 2009. This was confirmed again in October 2011. As an outstanding school under the same Headteacher, it is not subject to very regular Ofsted inspections. The school has an excellent reputation. It assesses the relationship it has with its parents on a very regular basis and in writing at the Annual Educational Review.

The school differentiates the styles of teaching that it offers to particular types of learners. It presently has 5 classes grouped approximately by Key stages delivering a modified national curriculum designed to meet the needs of SLD learners. This is quite a robust, active, stimulating curriculum. In KS5 this begins to prepare the young people more fully for adult life with sessions I college, work experience and basic life skills. The school currently has 3 classes catering for students with very profound learning difficulties and sensory impairment. These young people need a very specialised environment and specialist equipment. The school works in partnership with NHS colleagues to meet the complex needs of this group of learners.

The school currently has 6 Autistic specific classes grouped approximately according to age. These classrooms have a higher staff/pupil ratio and seek to teach basic communication and self-management of behaviours in a very structured programme especially designed to lessen anxiety and reduce challenging behaviours. The three different approaches seek to provide the best possible environments for pupils who, nevertheless, meet together regularly as a whole school community. In this way, Dee Banks is a very inclusive school which welcome some of the most complex young people in the education system.

Dee Banks School has a reasonably ‘open door’ policy and encourages informal meeting between the Parents/Carers and the staff. In particular the Headteacher seeks to be accessible to parents and available to listen to their concerns. Dee Banks seeks to provide consistency of staffing even in situations of absence due to sickness. It does its best to put replacement staff into a classroom who know the children and their routines. Only if this is impossible do we use unfamiliar staff but these will always come with appropriate training.

We demonstrate the progress of pupils through a variety of data systems. The EYFS profile is used in the 1st few years. B Squared is the main tool for assessment and ‘routes for learning’ informs the assessment of the sensory curriculum. These are fed into an overarching system called CASPA which provides a kind of benchmarking against other children nationally with similar needs.

IEP’s are written regularly and shared with Parents/Carers. Evaluated IEP’s are used at Parents Evening and Annual Educational Reviews. Targets are set using CASPA which are aspirational. These are discussed with staff and shared with the Parents/Carers. Parents are sometimes offered training either by schools own staff or by the NHS staff such as Speech and language therapists, OT’s, School Nurse or Physio’s. Training in communication and behaviour management is sometimes offered to Parents/Carers.

The school is a very supportive environment and a warm, welcoming community. It has excellent relations with the NHS. It has school physio’s, OT’s, Speech and Language therapists and school nurse. I addition there is a close liaison with Dr. Mittal the consultant community paediatrician, who holds regular clinics in school. The continence service and the orthotist also meet their client families at Dee Banks. The school is very experienced in managing medical care plans and will support the appropriate administration of medicines. The NHS trains designated staff in the management of diabetes and epilepsy on a ‘needs to know’ basis. There are a great many paediatric first aiders on site at all times. Dee Banks uses an IABA (Institute of Applied Behaviour Analysis) consultant to advise on individual application of its behaviour management policy. This normally helps the school to have low incidences of exclusions. There is a very high staff/pupil ratio right across the school. The school has an active school council which listens to the views of the children. There is plenty of opportunity for the pupils to express their opinions though this is formal captured once a year at Annual Educational Review.

All staff are trained and/or experienced in the application of an IABA approach to the management of behaviour. In addition, Dee Banks strives to train its staff in all aspects of safeguarding. Many staff have had PECS training and experience of using Makaton or Object of Reference. The school is a communication rich environment. The teaching staff who teach in ASC (Autism Specific) classes all have TEACCH training. Some of the TA’s also have this additional training or are highly experienced. Staff in PMLD/sensory curriculum department have additional training with increasing knowledge of the sensory curriculum and meeting the needs of MSI children.

There are 3 school minibuses which take the children out into the community. There are a wide range of school trips, residentials are encouraged. In the upper school, this can be part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Also, every year there is a joint residential with our German partner school either in Oldenburg near Hamburg in northern Germany, or in Chester. Dee Banks School is totally accessible for wheelchair users. It has disabled toilets and changing rooms throughout the building and in the school’s extensive swimming pool. There is a no lifting policy throughout the school (except in emergencies) and most classrooms have ceiling track hoists or access to an Oxford portable hoist. There are a special set of steps with rails outside the Physio department which trains young people to climb or descend steps as otherwise, there would be no opportunity to learn this important skill in school.

There are excellent school grounds and play facilities. The bike track and specialist adapted bikes are a tremendous resource. The wild area and school garden and outside classroom make the school grounds a very stimulating environment for teaching in the natural world. There is specialist equipment that is accessible to wheelchair users including a swing, roundabout and raised beds. A sensory trail is being developed to enable young people with sensory impairment to have access to the natural environment. Dee Banks is a very safe environment with a secure perimeter fence and safe systems of entrance and exit. As with the resources stated above we also have light rooms and Eyegaze technology.

A small number of young people access college once they are 17 or occasionally younger depending on their needs. They also have access to programmes which introduce them to the world of work. Some of the 14-19 SLD group run a café from time to time and invite local residents or other friends of the school. Other groups do recycling for the whole school, buy and deliver milk, collect preferences for school dinners and generally help around school.

There are transition reviews from the end of key Stage 3 (Year 9) when children’s and young people’s services (careers advice and guidance) get more involved. In the last year (year 14) students are prepared for transition with carefully designed programmes and regular meetings to make sure that transition is on track.

Children are essentially grouped according to approximate age and according to the best style of teaching. This is decided through SLT and wider consultation when the class lists are put together and through the statementing process. The school works closely with the LA to place children correctly who need the sort of specialisms available at Dee Banks. The school collects data and the opinions of learners and their families about whether or not successful outcomes have been achieved and hopes have been realised.

The school has a very close relationship with the Parents/Carers. The Governing Body has a significant representation of parents. The chair of Governors, Vice Chair and chairs of the committees are all Parent Governors. There is an active parent support group which meets in school on a monthly basis.

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