Local Authorities are required to publish a Local Offer which will show the special educational provision and support available to disabled children, young people and their families. The following is the response of Stepping Stones to that Local Offer:
Stepping Stones Local Offer
1. What does your service do?
The school having first established itself as a first class provider of care and education for young people with hemiplegia, has expanded its horizons to meet the needs of students who have found their access to education a challenge. In the academic year 2016-17 we have 64 young people enrolled at the school aged 7-18 years old who are organised into 9 teaching groups. We make provision for children on the autistic spectrum, for those with acute or chronic medical conditions, with a range of physical disabilities and those youngsters whose mental and/or emotional health is at risk.
We offer a unique environment for the student who finds the hectic pace of a mainstream school too challenging and yet might find the curriculum offered by a local maintained special school too narrow or too limiting. Past students have left us to continue their studies at A level, BTEC and Entry level qualifications in other mainstream and special colleges with the self-confidence to succeed in their chosen paths.
2. Where is it located and what areas does it cover?
Stepping Stones is located in Hindhead in Surrey on the border with Hampshire and close to West Sussex. The school has students from all three of these local authorities as well as further afield eg. London.
3. Who does your service provide for?
Stepping Stones provides for students with a range of educational difficulties from 7-18 years of age who require access to a mainstream curriculum within a special needs setting. An innovative approach is taken to learning in small class groups with the integrated support of trans-disciplinary and alternative therapies where relevant. Our aim is to provide each student with the opportunity to enjoy pushing the boundaries of their knowledge and experience, so gaining the skills and confidence they need in their future life.
Stepping Stones School follows the National Curriculum and offers our own broader curriculum, enabling students to study a wide range of subjects up to, and including, GCSE. This includes:
- Life Skills
- Communcation Skills
At Post 16 the core offer is a work Skills BTEC aligned with traineeship placements.
This curriculum is enriched by a variety of in and out of school activities, including sailing, LAMDA, swimming, equine empowerment, rowing and Duke of Edinburgh for those for whom it is appropriate. We also have participated for the past five years in the Shakespeare for School programme and have vigorous Art, Music and Drama departments.
The Stepping Stones Cookie Bar is a social enterprise located close to the school which gives practical experience and insight into the world of work.
4. How can I start using the service?
Anyone interested in applying to the school is encouraged to come and visit us to learn more about what we do. We hold Open Afternoons termly which you can book to attend either through our website or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Visits to the school usually take place Monday through to Friday. Initially, we encourage just the parents to visit, enabling the Head Teacher to get a better understanding of the needs of the child through talking to the parents first-hand.
We normally only admit a student after an assessment of at least three school days and after careful study of any reports including their Education Health Care Plan.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss your child’s needs. Educational professionals involved in the assessment and placement of children with SEN are also welcome to visit the school.
5. How are decisions made about who can use your service?
The school assesses students and will make the offer of a place to parents. The students at Stepping Stones are funded through two different streams:
Local Authorities: We work closely with the Local Authorities to engage them in the funding of our pupils. Where, working together, we are successful in naming Stepping Stones through the EHCP process, your Local Authority will fund the place for your son or daughter.
Private funding by parents: Parents may pay the school directly for the costs associated with placing their child here; these costs will vary according to the specific needs of the child. We do, however, encourage all parents to obtain an EHCP for their child to ensure they get the best support for their child now, and in the future.
6. How do you communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making/planning?
As a small school communication between school and parents is part of the daily life of the school. Families are actively involved in the school and have a dynamic Parents’ Association which works with the school and forms a supportive parental network which meets regularly. The school has both a website and App through which we provide information to parents and others interested in the school.
Our Governing Body has a parent governor who participates in the governance of the school. In addition at every Full Governing Board Meeting the head of the Student Council provides a verbal report and answers questions.
The school provides half termly newsletters to parents and undertakes regular parental surveys. We hold regular parent evenings with both teaching and therapy staff.
We also work proactively with key stakeholders such as Local Authorities, CAMHS, Social Services, as well as the families of each young person.
7. Is your service fully accessible?
Stepping Stones is a small school based over two sites (within 200m of each other) with a high student/staff ratio. Students are taught in small friendly class groups with experienced teachers and Teaching Assistants able to give one-to-one help where it is needed. The teaching staff work closely with our therapists and are able to tailor the students’ curriculum to their individual needs.
The buildings have been adapted to be hearing friendly; sound dampening has been installed on the ceilings of the hall and some classroom space.
The swimming pool, state of the art Science and Art rooms are all fully accessible.
Stepping Stones is able to provide Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy on site for the students according to their needs. They work closely together, and as part of a wider team with the teaching and support staff.
In addition the school has links with a number of other professionals whom we regularly call upon for advice and to provide input in areas such as educational psychology or visual perception, Emotional Freedom specialist, Counselling and play therapy.
8. What training are the staff supporting the children and young people with SEND had or are having?
Teachers: All teachers have a background in special education and many have an additional qualification in a particular area of special need. In recent staff training days, we have focused on young people with layered needs, PDA, Multi-sensory impairment, PTSD, epilepsy and the education of children diagnosed with acute anxiety. We have considerable expertise in the care and education of young people with hemiplegia and those who have brain tumors and we continually update our knowledge.
Teaching Assistants: All our TAs attend the same training as the teaching staff. We employ assistants with relevant experience who hold NVQ qualifications from Level 2 to level 4.
Therapists: Our therapist team are all HCPC registered and belong to their individual professional bodies.
9. Who can I contact for further information?
If you are interested in the school and the possibility of attending one of our Open Days then please contact email@example.com for further information. Or call 01428 609953.