The Linnet Independent Learning Centre in Derbyshire has achieved Flagship School status again.
This report is part of the Flagship review for The Linnet Independent Learning Centre and is in addition to the Annual Review documentation already submitted to IQM.
The agreed project for 2018-19 consisted of a range of targets focusing on:
1. Provision of additional therapy approaches (pupil Mental Health and Well-Being).
2. Regular access to Speech and Language Therapy.
3. Improvements to overall staff knowledge and understanding of SEND plus increased resources.
4. Development of Key Stage 4 qualification programmes.
5. School site improvements.
The school has included detailed evaluations of the above together with an outline action plan for their continued Flagship status 2019-20.
Major Changes and Developments
In addition to the above, there have been major changes and developments within the Lewis Charlton group. To date The Linnet has been run as an individual school under the overall financial management of The Lewis Charlton Group. Changes have become necessary partly due to the imminent retirement of the Headteacher but also in recognition of the success of The Linnet and its impact on the students. As from September 2019, The Linnet will be increasing its provision and number of student places available by taking over one of the Lewis Charlton School buildings and will be developing a new provision following the ethos and practices established at The Linnet. This new provision will be named The Willows and will have the extra benefits of specialist teaching rooms, Forest Schools’ provision, dining room, offices etc. The new Headteacher has been appointed internally with the intention of establishing a similar set up to The Linnet. The obvious benefits are clearly linked to existing good practice, on site CPD, existing policies etc.
High Standards of Resources
There will also be some areas of development required due to the issues of separate site, recruitment of new staff etc however the SLT has already insisted on high standards of resources and appropriate environment being offered in the new provision, details of this was made available to me during my visit.
During my visit to the school I had the opportunity to meet with the existing Headteacher and also the member of staff appointed for September and following discussions it was agreed that whilst recognising the task ahead of them was to develop the new provision, they would maintain the Flagship project as submitted to IQM. I also had the opportunity to look in on a session being delivered to the younger students by an ex-offender who is currently working with the probation service raising awareness and helping young people to make good decisions about gang membership and knife crime.
Additional Therapy Opportunities
The additional therapy opportunities have been extended to the appointment of new staff and utilisation of existing staff/provisions at the Lewis Charlton Therapy Centre. A reflexologist offers drop-in sessions for students together with a Yoga therapist. Some of the older students have taken up the offers particularly during exam times.
Some of the other proposed activities did not take place (appointment of Speech and Language therapist, developments of school site and the use of consultants to enrich the curriculum). This has been primarily due to availability of SL therapists and also a 25% reduction in school budget over the year.
The school has now registered on a Well-Being Award and is currently working towards accreditation www.thewellbeingproject.co.uk/mental-health-first-aiders/. The school may like to contact other IQM schools which have also gained accreditation in these areas (Latchmere School, Goldwyn School, The Village School). Other schools and contacts can be sourced directly from IQM or the Ambassador of the Cluster Group.
Good Source of CPD
I note from the school’s own review of targets that “Improved staff knowledge and understanding of SEN” have not been sufficiently addressed over the year, although a SEN lead teacher has been appointed. An extremely good source of CPD and sharing of resources are the IQM Cluster Groups. All the minutes of every meeting from 15+ groups are submitted to IQM with presentations and resources all shared. Attendance at cluster groups provides an opportunity to tour the host school, share resources and receive notes from the theme/presentation.
“Further development of bespoke KS4 qualification programmes.” Some progress has been made in this area although staffing has continued to be an issue. It was pleasing to see that “All students engaged in external qualification programmes are achieving well, at least to expectations and sometimes beyond.” I would recommend the school becoming further aware of the DfE document and aim to become “Gatsby Compliant.” “Careers guidance and access for education and training providers Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff” October 2018.
1. A stable careers’ programme;
2. Learning from career and Labour market information;
3. Addressing the needs of each student;
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers;
5. Encounters with employers and employees;
6. Experiences of workplaces;
7. Encounters with further and higher education;
8. Personal guidance.
Positive Impact on Progress and Attitudes
I can confirm from the evidence provided and in discussions with key staff members that the self-evaluation comments made by the school in reference to the Flagship project are accurate and have indeed had a positive impact not only on the progress and attitudes of the students, but have also extended the range of provisions and interventions available at the school. Whilst it has been difficult to predict the long-term impact there has been some very well documented instances which reflect how students are able to apply techniques and interventions to self-monitor and control behaviour. De-escalation and self-management of anger have been observed by staff, with evidence of this also being reported by parents and carers.
Recruiting New Staff
This in turn has been recognised by the management of The Lewis Charlton Group and has been a key factor in the proposed developments of The Linnet. The new addition to the school will be using existing buildings made available by the LC group and will be run with the same ethos and practices of The Linnet. The current thinking will be to recruit new members of staff who will then be able to shadow and work alongside existing staff members whilst the new building is being prepared.
Providing a “Fit for Purpose” Building
There is a strong emphasis on providing a building which is fit for purpose and this will include decorating, carpeting, the provision of appropriate furniture (staff and students), storage facilities and access to school transport. Students will not be travelling between bases although this may be necessary for some of the staff to be joint located. The school has already detailed their requirements to the LC management and intends to begin admissions with a small number of older students in September. The Linnet has for some time been under pressure to admit a greater number of students, but this has always been resisted as an increase in student numbers would have an impact on the day to day workings of the school and would inevitably lead to changes in practice.
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