St Mary’s, a DCSF approved non-maintained special school, exists to meet the complex needs of young people aged 7-19. Their needs are placed within the moderate learning difficulties range and include speech and language disorders; social communication difficulties (autism and aspergers); physical disabilities and complex medical conditions.
Students are placed at St Mary’s after a thorough assessment and are normally publicly funded through local authorities. The school and college offer a mixture of day and boarding accommodation. Great emphasis is placed on facilitating the young people to becoming as independent as possible and, therefore, community involvement is vigorously pursued. Partnerships with local organisations, including local authority schools, is common place as is outsourcing St Mary’s expertise to other organisations through service agreements.
At St Mary’s School (7-16), pupils follow the National Curriculum differentiated to their needs. The knowledge and expertise of the staff make it relevant to the pupils and their learning needs. For our students, this may involve looking at different and innovative ways to present and deliver the curriculum. Young people arriving at St Mary’s are severely impacted by their special needs which inhibit their ability to learn. Teachers, Therapists and Care and Nursing staff work collaboratively to plan and deliver a curriculum that addresses individual pupil needs. Staying well informed about current good practice and being encouraged to initiate innovative work, staff can constantly review, modify and upgrade the curriculum.
At St Mary's College (16-19) students follow a wide and varied accredited curriculum. The aim of the college is to prepare the individual student for independent living and working at the highest achievable level by the student. The care of our students is integrated within the waking curriculum: the living houses are staffed by teams of facilitators that also support during formal education time.
The College offers an extensive work experience programme, independence and vocational training and supported FE courses. The programmes of study are planned collaboratively with teachers, therapists and care and nursing staff to create a programme of study that is individualised to the students' needs. The College also offers a high level of support for transition post 19.
Over the years the quality of work carried out at St Mary’s has been endorsed by a legion of inspectors including those from HMI, Local Authorities, The National Care Standards Commission, Ofsted and Investors in People. This tome of reports demonstrates the high quality of work, innovative and diverse practices and community interaction that St Mary’s is engaged in. Also, the reports clearly show that young people with special educational needs at St Mary’s, are actively involved in decisions about their education and options post-16 and having real opportunities for progression, training and work.
St Mary’s is more that just a place where young people come to receive their schooling. The trust employs up to 30 therapists including Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, an Art Therapist and a Counselling Psychologist. In additional to their ‘normal’ training, the therapists also offer specialist help with sensory integration, augmentive communication aids, hydrotherapy, eating and swallowing disorders, dyslexia, signing and much more. St Mary’s is a very special place.