Aran Hall School have achieved an overall judgement score of ‘Good’ on both their current performance and their prospects for improvement in their recent education Inspection. The inspection, which took place in April, was carried out by Estyn, the Welsh Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales.
The school based in Dolgellau, Gwynedd provides education, care and therapy for pupils who have a range of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder and associated significant challenging behaviours and sexualised behaviour. Prior to joining the school most young people have been out of education for long periods of time and have experience previous placement breakdowns.
The inspection report looks at key questions:
1) How good are the outcomes?
2) How good is the provision?
3) How good is the leadership and management?
The report confirmed that the pupils make outstanding progress in managing their behaviour. They gain the confidence to try new activities, increase their engagement in learning and develop their communication and social skills, enabling them to take part in activities within the wider community.
The inspectors also commented that the school provides exceptionally high levels of care, support and guidance for its pupils. This includes effective procedures to support pupils’ medical and therapy needs. Staff are highly trained on working with young people on relationships, managing risk and behaviour.
The school was also rated excellent in its work to develop strategic partnerships with external agencies that enhance the pupils learning experience and life skills development. This includes the development of partnerships with parents, helping to develop and maintain young people’s relationships with family and friends wherever possible. There are also highly effective links with higher education institutions that support training and development of the schools innovative behaviour management programme with other schools.
Read the report in full
Susie Bateman, Work Experience Coordinator at Rowden House School has developed an excellent work experience programme. She has made strong links with local businesses and farms to create a broad portfolio of placement options for the students to choose from.
Susie works closely with the students supporting their choices and facilitating each work experience placement.
The work experience gives students an opportunity to transfer their learning into the wider community, making a positive contribution to the area in which they live. It also enables members of the local community to learn more about Rowden House School and see how positively the students can react to a stimulating and enjoyable activity.
A Rowden House Student was invited into the School Kitchen for National Pizza Day. As part of his daily living skills scheme of work he had to plan a meal for a specific event. Silver class devised a list of different toppings for the pizza and designed posters for the site.
We arrived in time for lunch. The view from the restaurant enabled us to see the main memorial, which was a circular monument situated on top of a small hill. From here we could plan our route around site.
The main monument housed incredible bronze sculptures that dominated the floor space. It was sobering to see that half of the memorial wall space was left blank, awaiting the arrival of future casualties in wars to come. This monument was dedicated to service men and woman who have died in conflicts since 1945.
We passed trees that had a disc on them dedicated to a fallen soldier. An entire avenue was dedicated to fallen Police men and women and another large memorial was focused on the great debt that we all owe to the Polish people during WW2.
CF mentioned that on a previous visit he saw a German army unit on full parade performing their own respect ceremony for the fallen and they visit the memorial once every 10 years.
After visiting many more of the memorials we decided to warm up with a drink before heading back home.
Members of the Winslow Court Staff Team visited Pencombe Women’s Institute to give a presentation about Winslow Court and how we fit into the local community.
The presentation included a brief history of Winslow Court and how it had developed over the years, information on our staffing, explaining that we are the local areas largest employer. It also included information about Autism and how this affects our residents.
They showed some wonderful slides of Art produced by residents with Dave Symons support (Artist) and also talked about our quality assurance and how we work with closely with our regulators, the Care Quality Commission.
The event was a great success, lots of questions asked and we were made to feel very welcome. A nice cup of coffee afterwards gave us more opportunity to chat and answer questions.
We were offered payment for our time but refused this. We did invite them to attend our summer fete and encourage other members of the local community to come too.
Since the beginning of the Year, Jasmine Wardle–Peck, Residential Support Worker at Alderwasley Hall School has started a stretch class for the residential students. The yoga class take place on a Tuesday evening.
Jasmine has done a lot of yoga in her own personal time and felt it would help the young people relax during the evenings and help them get settled ready to sleep. A lot of the young people struggle to get to sleep due to their minds being so alert and awake. The yoga is also a good way for young people to develop their core stability and muscle tone.
Jasmine consults with the schools Occupational Therapy department to generate some exercises that suit young people with lower muscle tone. The Occupational Therapists also provided guided relaxation CDs which a couple of students now use to help them fall asleep. The sessions last between 30 and 45 minutes and involve stretching, strengthening, yoga poses, cool down and 10 minutes guided relaxation in a dark room.
This has also been beneficial for staff members. They join in with the young person they are supporting during the evening. It helps to release all the tension that has built up during the day, giving a sense of grounding. It also gives staff time to reflect on their day.
On Thursday 24th November, the Winslow Court Speech and Language Therapy team held a ‘Communication Coffee morning’ to highlight communication strategies such as signing and using photo/symbol support, to enhance residents’ ability to make choices and use a greater range of communication skills.
The team created symbol/photo choice boards: the choice to make a request through pointing at a single photo or to extend this request into a phrase e.g. “I want + chocolate + cake”; “I like + cake”; “I want + more”. One of our residents, who does not use speech, ate a marshmallow and pointed to the symbol for ‘like’ to comment that he liked it! Another resident, who would normally just use a single word, pointed to 3 symbols in a row to say “I want cake”. We also had a nice moment when one resident pointed at the photo of the cake he wanted but when given it, he pushed it away and then pointed at a different photo; when asked “you want this one instead?”… he then signed for “yes”.
We also put all useful signs on the wall behind the table (with cakes and drinks on), so everyone could practise their signing… this worked well and all staff tried their best to attempt to sign all morning. Lots of questions were asked e.g. how do you sign different? What’s the sign for green?; so we hope we taught everyone some new signs as well as refreshing some common ones.
We also set up a table with examples of visual supports that could be used within our residents’ homes and got some nice feedback about how they could be used.
Thanks everyone for a successful morning – we hope to do it again in the New Year! Remember – communication matters.
For more information about Speech and Language Therapy click here
Aran Hall School have just had their latest piece of research published … Pritchard et al (2016) Multi-component behavioural intervention reduces harmful SHB in a 17-year-old male with autism spectrum disorder. Read the full report here.