The Valley School is an amazing and exciting place to be. I am privileged to be its Headteacher and I firmly believe I have the best job in the world. It is my joy to see real transformation in our pupils as they learn to believe in themselves and become proud of their differences.
We welcome pupils with a range of Special Educational Needs (SEN). All our pupils have learning difficulties and a large majority also have autism and/or speech, language & communication needs.
We believe in “different for different”, so our aim is to treat every pupil according to their individual needs, preferences and the barriers that get in the way of effective learning.
My talented and dedicated staff and I work hard to understand the barriers that exist to make learning challenging and we seek to overcome those barriers and to enable our pupils to achieve more than they ever believed possible. We have a very talented and passionate staff team.
Our teachers have full Qualified Teacher Status or are working towards their professional qualifications. They are ably supported by a large team of highly-skilled Learning Partners. Our staff represent a wide range of ages and experience and come from Primary, Secondary and Special School backgrounds.
We have a full-time business manager and a team of office staff to support the smooth running of the school. Our site staff work hard to maintain a very large and deteriorating school site, but we are all looking forward to identifying the timescale for a brand new building in the near future. We are situated on a large and pleasant site with enclosed quads and a range of animals, including snakes, a gecko, rats and giant snails.
The size of our site means that there is plenty of space for pupils to develop skills for unstructured time and for keeping fit. We have external gym equipment and an outdoor play area with climbing and balancing activities. Pupils have been able to influence decisions about the school environment and are involved in looking after the animals.
Every day is different and we never take the easy route. We both challenge and support our pupils to make progress and we believe in miracles. We are creative and innovative and we concentrate on solutions. Our pupils learn in small groups with other pupils whose needs are similar. Some of the classes span more than one National Curriculum year group. We focus on literacy and mathematics to support a wider curriculum. All pupils engage in “Learning 4 Life”, which combines the skills for independent living and the personal skills for becoming caring and compassionate members of the wider community. Our pupils learn self-care, basic finance, home skills, cooking and the value of developing strong personal and work relationships. We specialise in The Arts and support our pupils to develop as artists and performers, as well as learning technical theatre skills.
Our curriculum model allows us to offer a variety of appropriate pathways for our pupils. Some are able to concentrate on academic progression and others are able to follow vocational routes. All our pupils attend the local college in KS4 and are also involved in work experience placements. Over the last few years, all our pupils have moved on to college courses and we work closely with the local college to make the transition positive and well-prepared.
We welcome frequent contact with our parents and carers. This begins before pupils start at the school and the relationship is central to each pupil’s journey through the school. A full written report is compiled once a year and is followed immediately by an opportunity to meet every one of the teachers to discuss its content. The Annual Reviews follow soon after and allow us to work together to ensure that we continue to provide the right learning experience for every pupil. We also invite families to join us for a Christmas Concert and a yearly School Production involving the majority of the school, and a vast range of other regular events. We host parenting courses, workshops and visiting speakers.
Our passion is for enabling every individual in the school to be confident, influential and involved in the community in which they live, with significant independence as they move toward adulthood.
We aim for every pupil to leave us highly skilled in being excellent at learning, as they will face a future containing things that have not yet been invented and we are committed to equipping them with all the skills they need.
We believe in “CRACKING THE LEARNING CODE”
C = Curiosity – the desire to learn and find out as much as possible about the world
R = Resilience – the ability to turn setbacks into springboards
A = Access – literacy, numeracy, using technology, listening, interaction, negotiation
C = Confidence – self-belief, self-esteem, being comfortable with who we are