Learning For Life
Each year at Market Field School we update our "School Story" to reflect the school's most recent developments and achievements. Here is the most recent version:
THE SCHOOL STORY
More than a school
Our sustained capacity to improve is borne not out of systems, but out of people. Passion, talent, determination, empathy, kindness, understanding and plain doggedness are what we look for in our staff but, most of all, the desire to be better, to do better.
We remain on a steadfast route of continuous improvement and innovation. Since our last inspection we have had teachers leave and teachers join us. We have supported staff to progress in a number of areas. Market Field School has become an academy and opened a college site, we are on our way to opening our first Free School and we have welcomed Southview school as part of our academy family.
As part of our relationship with Southview School a member of staff who works across both schools has been involved in aligning school policies and procedures. The schools have worked together to share best practice and organise shared CPD. It has been a fantastic opportunity for sharing considerable expertise across the trust.
Chatten Free School will open in September 2020 and will be aimed at working with the most severely autistic pupils in the Essex area. We are very excited by this development.
We continue to instil a sense of purpose into all our staff and this is supported with changes to both our performance management systems and the way we utilise leadership level teaching staff.
The well-being team continues to be actively involved in strong partnership with EWMHS. We hold triage meetings on a monthly basis to discuss caseloads and agree priorities. We run resilience groups in partnership with EWMHS for children and young people from the locality and these are used to train others (Lexden, Harwich etc.). We are now delivering this to classes within the school. Child and Adolescent counselling sessions are held. Drawing and talking therapy is on offer, this can be done in groups or on a 1:1 basis. We have lots of skilled listeners across the school. A new member of staff has joined our team and she is studying for a therapeutic degree. We also have a member of staff trained for FLASH (families learning about self-harm).
Termly workshops/coffee mornings are held and so far have included social understanding and Essex steps for parents, we will be running workshops about speech and language and Autism as the year goes on. Another success is the running of a parenting group under the wing of the “Ministry of Parenting”, we are hoping to deliver another one at some point in the future.
Home visits are a regular feature of the support on offer for parents this can be for emotional support for the parents or for parents struggling with behaviours, we gather the information and then draw on various staff to support with this, eg speech and language.
School Dinners continue to be healthy and nutritious, having a positive effect on the behaviour and energy of our pupils.
One of our staff members has created a multi-school’s council, this aims to break down barriers between children in mainstream and specialist provision. Since 2012 this has continued to grow from strength to strength with talent shows, multi-school council meetings and a multi-school council Olympic games. Students on the multi-school council have acted as ambassadors for other young people with learning difficulties and have been to the Houses of Parliament and the House of Lords to raise awareness of what they do. The whole ethos of the council is to promote pupil voice and bring children together from all backgrounds and abilities.
The council is now supported by the local authority and in particular the local offer team. In 2018 we had just over 110 schools engaged across Essex splitting into 4 strands as well as expanding into Hertfordshire. We have since designed a mental health recommendations paper, published a book which has been handed to every primary school in Essex and are planning future expansions into other areas.
The eventual aim of the council is that SEN and mental health awareness will be a part of the national curriculum. This will result in a better understanding amongst young people towards all our differences and help create a more understanding society. We hope in return more of our children will be able to access the working world as so many children with SEN and mental health difficulties struggle to find employment.
Our Employability, Careers and Work Experience programme is unique in it’s design, and has been the catalyst for Market Field developing supported internships, traineeships and apprenticeships at our college site and for developing exciting new projects for our post 16 students.
Since reintroducing our work experience programme in 2016, our students now have the opportunity to experience good quality placements enabling them to gain self-confidence, raising their aspirations and ability to learn essential new skills for the future. Our specialist Employability and Work Placement Co-ordinator works closely with employers and our students, which allows for a greater depth of understanding when placing students in an appropriate setting and creating realistic goals for the future.
Our work with employers is expanding rapidly, growing from only a handful to over 40, and we continue to grow and develop strong relationships with local and national employers, promoting our students, creating opportunities and showing the world what the incredible individuals we have at Market Field School and College have to offer.
Our continued involvement in the three local teaching school alliances enables us generally to “cherry pick” and enhances our reputation as a good place to work. Student teachers continue to visit us as part of their training and the feedback we receive is overwhelmingly positive. We have forged links with the Colne School and their students studying GCSE Health and Social Care now spend a day with us as part of their course, our long term aim is that this will lead to some of these students coming to work for us once they finish school. We also have students who visit us from the Colchester institute.
We continue to provide outreach support to mainstream schools. One of our assistant head’s manages outreach and delegates to the most appropriate member of staff for the support that has been requested. We continue to receive excellent feedback from schools we support.
We also continue to support the development of the autism support hubs in two local schools. Now fully up and running the schools request support when needed usually in terms of interventions and also in managing admissions. We are very proud of our role in these hubs.
Supporting and monitoring
Since 2015 we have changed how we monitor lessons. We have moved away from grading lessons and have instead viewed lesson observations as an opportunity for CPD both for the observer and the person being observed. Our observation forms focus on drawing out what went well within a lesson and how it could be made even better moving forward. We have found that teaching staff respond well to this approach and are more prepared to take risks in their lessons which often leads to better engagement for the pupils.
Decisions about the effectiveness of teaching staff are made by triangulating data – conducting a lesson observation, ongoing planning and work scrutiny and weekly phase leader meetings. There is a rigorous schedule of book scrutinies, learning walks and moderations with time for feedback and evaluation timetabled for each half term and led by Head of School. This allows us to recognise both the skills and areas which need development in our teachers. Where a teacher is strong in areas this allows us to plan for professional development and also means we know which teaching staff to use as mentors for staff who are less confident in certain areas. Conversely where a teacher is in need of support we can plan our continuing professional development accordingly and point them towards good mentors.
Each year we do an official performance management with all teaching staff which includes an observation and meeting to set targets. However, performance management is generally an ongoing process linked to book scrutinies and learning walks.
Support staff now have a continuous method of performance management in which they are graded against ten core standards expected of support staff. These qualities were put together and agreed on by teaching and support staff. Where there is an area of concern line managers address this directly and provide targets if targets are not met in a given amount of time senior management will offer further support. Where support staff are consistently and confidently meeting the core standards they are offered opportunities to grow beyond the role currently inhabit either through training opportunities or through chances to be involved or even lead activities linked to their area of interest. We have also offered leadership and ‘difficult conversations’ training to teachers as part of their development.
Curriculum and assessment
The autism bases continue to provide specialist provision for those children considered to be more severely affected by their autism. We strive to deliver a functional curriculum to suit the needs of each individual within the classes. These classes have fewer children and a higher ratio of adults than other classes in the school. We particularly focus on social, communication, community access and life skills thus supporting family life and a higher level of independence as the young people go into adulthood. Some pupils may access more academic skills but these are more functional and related directly to need. Where challenging behaviour exists, we try to teach a functionally alternative behaviour. We use a range of specialist interventions such as ‘Attention Autism’ and ‘colourful semantics’ according to need. Each class, is a ‘total communication’ environment where we use a range of Makaton, PECS and visuals to support communication and understanding. Many children within the bases, also receive a high level of sensory integration activities to support them to cope with their sensory differences and to enable them to be calm enough to learn. We have a range of assessment strategies available which can be used according to the child’s or classes’ level of ability.
Over the past few years, we have developed the role of Autism Classroom Managers (ACMs). Several of these staff member’s co-ordinate small groups of children (5-7) under the supervision of teaching staff. These individuals are highly skilled in teaching children with autism, and have a wealth of experience as well as in-house training. One ACM has also almost completed his Masters in autism. All staff in the bases, work very closely with the speech and language team to meet the communication needs of the children. One particular class (Oak Leaf) are working on an ABA curriculum as a model for when our new school, The Chatten Free school opens.
Our student council continues to provide a vitally important student voice within the school. The council try to meet fortnightly and discuss improvements they would like to make to the school. The Head of School endeavours to attend at least one of these meetings termly.
In terms of assessment our new assessment lead has constructed excel spreadsheets for English, Science and Mathematics using VBA programming that we use to assess against the national curriculum. The assessment lead then produces termly reports for phase leaders and teachers so that we can see how learners are performing. We’ve also introduced e learning profiles so we can record progress toward vitally important EHCP targets.
We continue to strive towards a continually improving moderation system both internally and in partnership with externals bodies such as schools in the trust and other Essex Special school.
In phases Key Stage 1 and 2, we have worked together to make our phonics provision even more effective. This has included in house training for all support staff, added an additional phonics session each week for the streamed groups and added a phonological awareness intervention group for children who need more support. Termly phonics assessment for the streamed groups ensures children are making progress or are picked up quickly and given the support they need.
The summer 2019 junior residential is now being run and hosted by the school which means we are able to tailor the activities for our children. This means that all children in key stage 2 will be able to take part in some of the activities and those that wish to camp can stay on to do so. Children in Key Stage 1 and EYFS will be able to access some of the planned activities and trips as well meaning that our residential is truly inclusive.
We have also added more RDA horse riding and Forest School sessions for the academic year 2018/19 so that more classes are able to benefit from these valuable opportunities.
As part of our ‘Learning for life’ focus we have increased the length of lunchtimes for KS1/KS2. 12:10-12:40 is now a session focussed on eating and social skills. The lengthening of this period means all teaching and support staff are able to be in the hall to support development in these key area. Pupils then have a full hour of ‘play’ which is vital for our pupils in terms of meeting sensory needs, running off excess energy and in learning new social interaction and play skills.
Key stages 3 and 4 continue to offer a broad and balanced curriculum across the subjects with some pupils accessing academic qualifications and other going down a more vocational path. This year we have introduced a new PSHE curriculum and qualification which focuses on teaching skills and knowledge vital to flourishing in the world beyond school. We have also changed the way the timetable is structured to provide lessons which are shorter and more suited to the ability and attention spans of our pupils while giving the opportunity to improve the variety of subjects taught.
The creation of Market Field College has given a means to better support the children’s independence and employability post school age. It has also been able to further develop and enhance pupil’s ‘learning for life’ prospects. The KS4 curriculum is in the process of being revised to accommodate ‘top down learning opportunities (from KS5) that will best support vocational studies post 16 and thus improve employment prospects post 19. Moreover, an increasingly varied and vocational curriculum will serve to scaffold a variety of learning styles and interests, raising the level of pupil engagement and employment aspiration.
At post 16 EHCP processes have also been revised to reflect the learners employment and independent living needs as they prepare for adulthood.
Speech and Language
The speech and language therapy team at Market Field is made up of two full time therapists and one therapist who works four days a week. Due to the increasingly complex needs of the children in the school each therapist is developing a specialism in a specific area. We therefore have Lucy Beven specialising in working with children and young people aged 7-19 with speech, language and communication needs. Lucy now spends one day a week at the College site. Jess Dewdney is specialising in Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) and Jen Cronshaw is specialising in Hearing Impairment and Signing. Jen is a Makaton Tutor and has run Makaton training courses at the school for staff and parents. She is now opening up the courses to offer training to others not connected with the school. In order to build Makaton signing into everyday activities around the school we have a sign-of-the week, a picture of which is given to every class and a film of which is put on Dojo so parents can use it at home as well. On the school website there are also videos of signing stories and songs that both teachers and parents can access and use.
The SLT department has six Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), from different classrooms across the school, who each work as a therapist assistant one day a week. This ensures that skills and knowledge acquired in the role are transferred into the wider classroom setting.
With the growing number of pupils entering the school, and the opening of the College, there has been increased pressure on the SLT department. In an attempt to address this, a care pathway has been developed which is available on the website and sets out how children can be referred to SLT. A prioritisation system has also been developed to ensure all children receive the correct level of input according to their need.
SLT input is evidence based and is on three levels: Universal, Targeted and Specialist.
Over the last few years the main emphasis has been at the Universal level meaning the therapists spend as much time as possible in the classrooms supporting children who need it, joint planning with teachers and running whole class sessions, such as Attention Autism (to build children’s attention skills), phonological awareness and vocabulary sessions (to help support reading, writing and spelling) or signing stories. They also carry out training sessions for staff and communicate regularly with parents.
At the Targeted level the therapists may set up small group work such as Lego-based Therapy (to work on social skills and expressive and receptive language skills) which may be run by one of the SLTAs. Children may also take part in Intensive Interaction sessions (to build the fundamentals of communication) or sensory stories (to develop vocabulary and narrative skills). Those children that have specific areas of need have a Communication Programme written by the therapist which can be implemented in class by a trained LSA or by one of the SLTAs. The therapists may also work closely with classroom staff to implement AAC such as Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) for children who are pre-verbal or have limited means of expressing their wants and needs.
Finally, at the Specialist Level there are some children that require one-to-one therapy sessions with a therapist.
The SLT team also helps support mainstream schools that approach the Outreach lead at MF. This SLT support can be given in a number of ways such as advice about SLT provision via email or telephone or one-off visits to schools to advise teachers on strategies to support a child with SLCN if the local provider is not able to offer support.
Each of the therapists at MF also has to assess and write reports for all the children on their case load to go towards their EHCP Annual Review paperwork, plan therapy sessions, create resources, write Communication Programmes, write notes, work with SLT students in the spring and summer terms and maintain their CPD diary.
As a school we continue to grow both physically and in terms of what we provide. We are passionate that our pupils join us not just for an education in academics but for an education in life. We are constantly self-reviewing and adapting so that we can offer the best possible life chances to our amazing cohort.