The school is located in the centre of Castle Gresley, a small village on the outskirts of Burton Upon Trent, just six miles from Ashby De La Zouch, where The Company’s second school is located, and just down the road from Conkers Discovery Park. Strong partnership arrangements have been developed between The Linnet, nearby Lewis Charlton School in Ashby, Lewis Lodge Post 16 Unit, Rolleston Forestry Centre, Snibston Science Park, Twycross Zoo and Conkers Discovery Centre. Facilities in Ashby and nearby Swadlincote include Swadlincote library, Ashby museum, shops, a regular bus service that has a stop immediately outside the school gates, “The Hood” leisure centre in Ashby and swimming baths in Swadlincote. Arrangements are in place for pupils at The Linnet to take full advantage of local community services and to make a positive contribution through links with Swadlincote Centre for Voluntary Services, The Woodland Trust and Manor Farm ‘adopt an animal’ scheme, as well as regular contract with charities oversees through International “Help the Aged” and “Action Aid”.
The Linnet Independent Learning Centre aims to provide a unique blend of therapeutic education and care for pupils who have experienced difficulties within mainstream and possibly also within other special educational provision. At The Linnet the focus is on empowering pupils to realise their intellectual and social potential by presenting mainstream curriculum and community responsibilities in a manner that enables individuals to understand that their experiences are relevant, their feelings validated and their contributions important. The school motto “Well-being, Involvement, Support and Challenge” illustrates well the school’s emphasis upon development of the ‘whole person’ within a context that promotes learning independence.
‘We must take care to perceive the needs of each child as unique, and to acknowledge that they each have special learning needs at different stages in their development’ (Rouse and Griffin 1992.149)
The Linnet offers an interactive, child-centred curriculum.
The Linnet Independent Learning Centre is a school for boys with learning and/or behaviour difficulties aged between seven and sixteen years of age. The curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum, but is adapted to meet the particular needs of young people who, in most cases, are operating well below age-related expectations. The Linnet School consists of two buildings, both sharing the same site. The Nest is a small building which provides a base for education and care for five of the lower ability and/or more emotionally vulnerable boys. Treetops, our larger building, offers education and care to nine boys. Pupils will be timetabled to work in both buildings for some part of each week, but will be based in the building that best meets their needs. At the end of each academic year staff, in consultation with parents/carers, will decide which pupils might benefit most from a base in a smaller, more intimate learning environment for the year ahead. The Nest also offers facilities for parent/family support and nationally accredited child care and education learning opportunities for all our pupils’ families. Mostly, pupils at our school have a statement of special educational needs and we use this information when providing learning opportunities that offer appropriate levels of support and challenge. We present a learning experience that accommodates the needs of the ‘whole child’, has strong multi-agency and community links and responds with enthusiasm to the Government Strategy “Every Child Matters”. We believe that all young people learn best when they are actively involved and interested in the world around them and that young children learn best through quality and supported play. We intend to encourage all our pupils to develop as active, independent learners who want to investigate, explore and discover and who can become willing and able life-long learners.
The Linnet Independent Learning Centre aims to:
- Offer a personalised learning experience that reflects each pupil’s developing needs, abilities and interests. Enjoying and Achieving
- Promote pupils as independent and successful learners. Enjoying and Achieving
- Encourage pupils to be proactive learners who acquire a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from their achievements. Enjoying and Achieving
- Challenge pupils to be the best they can be, to make good progress in all aspects of their learning and development and to make a positive contribution to the learning communities of which they are a part. Positive Contribution
- Provide an experiential learning environment that reflects the specific needs of each individual pupil, supporting their interests, promoting their engagement and raising their expectations. Enjoying and Achieving; Positive Contribution
- Create a learning community in which pupils can learn comfortably alongside and with other children and adults in meaningful contexts and real-life situations. Enjoying and Achieving; Positive Contribution
- Promote healthy living and healthy lifestyles. Being Healthy
- Provide a safe and secure environment in which all children feel able to take sensible risks to further their learning and development. Keeping Safe
- Encourage pupils to take responsibility for their own health, safety and welfare within a secure and supportive environment that gives each pupil the opportunity to develop a sense of belonging and collective responsibilities. Being Healthy; Keeping Safe
- Broaden pupils’ knowledge and understanding of their world, so that they can begin to aspire to roles and responsibilities that will secure their future personal, social and economic well-being. Economic Well-Being
The Linnet aims to offer pupils a wide and varied curriculum that reflects their own particular needs and interests and builds upon the ways they like to learn best. The government promotion of Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) is welcomed at the Linnet and mirrors well The Linnet’s emphasis upon the promotion of high levels of well-being and each young person’s active involvement in and responsibility for their own learning. Through a selection of practical workshop areas and weekly educational off-site visits, pupils are encouraged to investigate, explore, experiment and research.
“… the high quality, out-of-classroom learning also influenced how children behave and the lifestyle choices they make. It shows the potential for school trips not just to change individual lives, but the lives of whole communities.” Dr Alan Peacock, February 2006: “Changing Minds-The lasting Impact of School Trips”
Timetables are flexible and introduce new experiences and new ways of learning as well as new information and skills. Literacy and numeracy are given emphasis through activities that have relevance and meaning in real-life situations. We try to make as many links as possible between the learning pupils do in school and their lives off school site. Pupils, whose home culture or home language is substantially different from that of the school, are provided with appropriate curricular support and, where possible, positive role models from their own culture and linguistic community. Parental interest and support for their children’s learning is an important contributor to their success. We encourage parents and carers to come into school to work alongside and with their children and to take part in special events such as school visits and visitors. We regularly send pupils home with information about what they have been doing, what they have been learning and to celebrate with parents and carers significant achievements and successes.
The Linnet aims to offer all pupils a safe, secure and enjoyable learning experience. In order to do this, there have to be some shared rules, routines and guidelines. At first admission every parent, carer and young person is provided with a home-school booklet that makes clear school aims and expectations. They are also offered an opportunity to discuss this booklet and are encouraged to sign a home-school agreement that secures their support for school values and approaches.
Our school receives referrals for a placement at The Linnet School from nearby Local Authorities. All referrals are given careful consideration. As and when places are available, pupils are admitted to the school on the grounds that they are able to take full advantage of the learning opportunities offered. We are guided by the recommendations on a young person’s statement of special needs. Should it appear likely that a particular young person would benefit from a place at The Linnet, a member of staff will make every effort to visit them in their home and/or in their existing educational placement. Following this visit, an opportunity is provided for the young person and their parents/carers to visit The Linnet, so they can decide whether they would like to take advantage of a place that may be offered to them. Potential pupils are then accepted on a provisional basis for a ‘taster’ period, usually lasting about a fortnight. The length of this ‘taster’ period may vary from one young person to another, so that staff have sufficient opportunities to undertake further on-site assessments when a young person is experiencing transitional difficulties.
Our school’s admissions policy is available upon request from the headteacher.
The Linnet operates for 3 terms a year. Additionally all pupils will receive visits from staff during the school holidays, to offer them and their families support, especially during the long summer break.
The school day runs from 9.00 a.m.to 4.00 p.m. Pupils arrive for 9.00 a.m. with breakfast offered on arrival, a slightly earlier or later start time can then be accommodated to make allowances for transport difficulties; at the other end of the day pupils leave between 3.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. This staggered arrival and departure reflects the entitlements for pupils of different ages and helps to ensure that all pupils receive individual attention and support by staff at the beginning and end of each day.
Most pupils do not attend school full-time straight away, but are given a timetable that allows them to settle into school routines gradually with minimum stress or anxiety. This settling-in period also gives staff time to get to know each young person and to plan for their needs appropriately. Some of our youngest pupils may only require a part-time place over the longer-term, as providers may work in partnership to offer a variety of learning experiences to most effectively meet a child’s specific special needs.
Lunch, mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks are provided. We aim to provide well-balanced meals and healthy snacks.
Pupils have access to a selection of practical workshops throughout each day (both on and off site), designed to provide a broad and balanced learning experience, linked to the National Curriculum. Keyworkers monitor the pupils’ activities and learning and give emphasis in curriculum plans to those aspects/subjects where learning needs and interests are greatest. Learning through play is given high priority, especially for the younger pupils, with links made to the Foundation Stage Curriculum as well as The National Curriculum for those children whose needs are located within the preschool curriculum.
There are 2 departments within the school. The larger of which is called ‘Treetops’ and the smaller is called ‘The Nest’. Both departments offer similar facilities and learning opportunities, although The Nest provides for a smaller group of children and offers a less socially and academically less challenging learning environment for pupils working mostly within KS1 of the National Curriculum.
Promoting positive behaviour:
We hope that all pupils will show interest and enthusiasm for the activities offered, so that they want to learn and want to take part. We work hard to offer activities that provide good quality learning opportunities, but also that take into account each pupil’s interests and preferences. However, we know that there will be times when individual pupils find appropriate behaviour difficult. Every pupil is supported by their own keyworker throughout the day. Keyworkers come to know well the pupil with whom they work and are available to support their learning and their behaviour, when situations become stressful. This partnership of trust, support, challenge and encouragement is also intended to help to support pupils who have attachment and/or relationship issues.
provide different physical ‘safe spaces’ which include a therapeutic room supported by an on-site therapist 3 days a week, where pupils can learn about their feelings and behaviours; staging in the garden where pupils can 'act out' their thoughts and emotions publically in an acceptable way; a Native American Tepee, where pupils can retreat for calm and reflection and a willow dome where pupils can 'watch the world go by' surrounded by nature.
The school’s behaviour policy is made explicit and regularly reinforced. In a small school such as this one, it is possible to monitor closely the behaviour and relationships of pupils. All pupils are appropriately supervised by a member of staff at all times. In most learning situations each pupil works alongside and with their keyworker. Sometimes, the pupils are brought together in small groups for specific activities. At these times there is always at least two members of staff present. Bullying will not be tolerated. All reports of bullying incidents will be recorded and followed up with both the victim and the bully. Where bullying has been observed to take place, relationships and behaviours will be carefully monitored and regularly reviewed over the short and longer term. We will make every effort to ensure that behaviour expectations are realistic and achievable for each child and that discipline is relevant and fully understood. Our style involves helping pupils to express their concerns in words, rather than acting them out. Acting-out by bullying or violent means may result in temporary or even permanent exclusion, as may a failure to keep oneself safe. We want to help pupils to behave well; we do not believe in punishment as a solution. We aim to place an emphasis upon the prevention of inappropriate behaviour and the rewarding of positive behaviour. We want to help pupils to feel successful as they develop new social skills and friendships with us.
We will always do everything we can to prevent a pupil from being excluded from school. When this is unavoidable, exclusions are usually for no more than one or two days. Parents must take responsibility for the first 5 days of any exclusion, to ensure that their child is adequately supervised, safe and not found in a public place without reasonable justification. In the unlikely event that an exclusion should be set for longer than 6 days, educational provision in the form of homework, or visits by a pupil’s keyworker from school, will be made from day 6 of the exclusion. Occasionally, a Local Authority may choose to provide alternative educational provision for a pupil, from day 6 of any longer-term exclusion from school.
(Reference to ‘Education and Inspections Act, 2006’).
A summary of our Behaviour and Discipline Policy and Anti-Bullying Policy are enclosed.
Persistent poor behaviour, including bullying, will be taken very seriously and is always recorded by staff, discussed with the pupil/s concerned and monitored by the headteacher and/or care manager. We understand that the children at our school will have times when they find emotions and behaviour difficult to manage and we will do all we can to support them. We have an on-site therapist with us 3 days a week. When poor behaviour is persistently affecting a pupil's access to learning or is inhibiting other pupils from learning we will consider temporary exclusion as a strategy to break the cycle of disruption and failure. In extreme cases we may find it necessary to permanently exclude a pupil from our school, when the learning opportunities we offer can no longer meet their needs and interests. All exclusions will be fully explained, recorded and discussed with the pupil, their parents/carers and representatives of the referring Local Authority.