Posted: Tue 6th Oct 2020

Independent school for children with additional learning needs reveals new sixth form after excellent Estyn inspection

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

An independent school for pupils with additional learning needs has unveiled a new sixth form following an excellent Estyn inspection earlier this year.

Bryn Tirion Hall School opens the sixth form at their site in Caergwrle, whilst they have also recruited six new teachers and learning assistants as well as five new children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

That takes them to 54 pupils at the start of the academic year, an increase on the one and only pupil during their launch back in 2008.

Principal Paddy Prendergast welcomes their recent success, saying the togetherness amongst the workforce is what enables them to make a difference to the lives of local children with additional learning needs.

“This is a sector which isn’t really talked about for many reasons, but over the years we have grown and grown and soaked up the issues of children with complex needs, supporting local authorities when they need it most,” he said.

“Together with our staff – who are incredibly resilient and focused – we can provide opportunities for the pupils to break down the barriers to their learning, unlocking success.

“There are so many unbelievable kids here who have turned things around because our staff have persevered, listened and worked with them, stuck with them and believed in them – that’s when they make progress.”

He further added: “We have invested heavily in the new Bersham Road school as it was quite run down when we took it on.

“Most of the children are referred to us by local authorities and come to us from less than an hour away, so as we grow and are held up as a beacon of best practice I can only see more joining us.

“That’s also a big part of the reason why we decided to open up a sixth form at Caergwrle. It gives them that continued support post-16 as they look to study for vocational qualifications, continue their work experience and even progress onto A Levels, preparing them for their next steps in a familiar and supportive environment.

“We don’t want them to be lost to education and the possibility of a career because they’re not ready to leave or given the help they need. We tailor the education and care to each child, it’s not one size fits all.

“It’s a privileged position to be in, doing something we love and pushing boundaries, scrutinising and changing perceptions of what is a largely forgotten section of the education landscape.”

Staff at the school were found to have promoted a caring and inclusive ethos by Estyn inspectors which they say meets the pupils’ needs.

The report stated: “They share a strong commitment to improving the life chances of all pupils and work closely with the school’s therapy and psychology team to reflect carefully on their own practice and ensure that their knowledge of individual pupils’ needs is informed by an up-to-date understanding of trauma-informed practice.

“As a result of the school’s carefully co-ordinated approach to the curriculum and the high quality of care, support and guidance they receive, most pupils make strong progress in their learning, wellbeing and independence.”

Career and Work-Related Education Manager Sarah Gaffney said the findings reinforce the foundations laid by the leadership team over the last decade.

“The organisation has grown but never lost its focus and commitment to the pupils and positive outcomes for them,” she said.

“To receive such a positive response from Estyn is terrific and gives us the confidence to continue working with our partners and the community to change the lives of these amazing young people.”

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