Bedford Free School
‘We believe that, given the right circumstances, all children are capable of extraordinary things’
At Bedford Free School, we believe that every student is a unique individual who possesses talents and gifts that can be developed within the right learning environment.
How we support your child's learning
- Current attainment levels are collected from, and verbal information shared with, respective feeder schools
- All students are assessed before and on entry to school; baseline tests are conducted including reading, English and maths.
- Regular quizzing and assessments are conducted by subject teachers
- Current attainment grades are communicated regularly to parents.
- Any child who has, or is suspected to have, additional SEND will be assessed further to identify and henceforth cater for specific needs
- Every child meets with form tutor daily in form groups
- In addition, where a child receives extra support, a key worker is allocated and is happy to liaise with student and parents as and when needed
- Learning Passports are put in place where there is a need for one, these provide information about need, advised support strategies and targets set for the student to achieve
- Every child carries an ‘Achievement Card’ which records lesson by lesson success (or otherwise) and which must be checked and signed weekly by the parent
Accessibility of our service
- There is a lift in the building (which has four floors) for wheelchair access
- There is a disabled toilet on most floors
- If communication is difficult for parents then the school will strive to overcome the barrier, for example by finding a translator or conducting home visits if necessary
Please note the school sits on a busy site in the middle of town and surrounded by roads which have heavy traffic; it is strongly advised that students should have mature road safety awareness
How we identify SEN
- Bedford Free School operates a hierarchy of graduated responses to pupil needs which aims to ensure early intervention and implementation of strategies necessary to meet individual pupil needs.
- Interventions will be triggered through concern that, despite receiving differentiated teaching within class, a pupil:
Makes little or no progress
Shows(ongoing) difficulty developing literacy or numeracy skills
Presents with persistent emotional and behavioural difficulties
Has sensory or physical problems, which continue despite the use of specialist equipment (or may require additional specialist equipment or advice)
Has communication and/or interaction problems which continue despite curriculum differentiation (or may prevent the development of social relationships, or hinder learning)
- Concerns may be raised in the first instance with a student’s Tutor, Pastoral Leader, Keyworker or SENCO who will liaise with the appropriate member of staff
How we support your child/young person
- The SENCO, Subject Teachers and team of Learning Mentors (Keyworkers) will plan and oversee any individualised education programme which may deviate from the normal curriculum.
- For the most part, the subject teachers will be teaching any child according to a mainstream timetable. Some students may occasionally be taken out of timetabled lessons for an ‘intervention’ class which endeavours to accelerate progress in areas where a student may have gaps in his or her knowledge. This will be discussed with a parent usually by the student’s keyworker or SENCO
- Students are formally assessed half termly by all their teachers. Any child who has additional SEND and as a result has a keyworker or is taking part in an intervention, will have their progress carefully monitored by the member of staff leading the support. If progress is not being made despite the additional intervention lessons, then the intervention will be reviewed and altered accordingly
How we match the curriculum to your child's needs
- All staff are regularly briefed on the different learning needs of the students. The SENCO, Subject Teachers and team of Learning Mentors (Keyworkers) will consider appropriate strategies such as:
Providing different materials or equipment
Differentiated learning strategies through staff development or training
Devising interventions and monitoring their effectiveness by providing extra adult time
In occasional and extreme cases a student’s curriculum may be personalised
Seeking Local Authority support for advice on strategies and equipment or staff training
The support we give to your child's well being
- Form tutor for all students
- Dedicated team of pastoral staff
- Key members of staff have safeguarding training and there is a wide skill set amongst the pastoral team which leaves us confident to deal with initial social support and to know where to signpost and/or refer to external agencies
- We have a dedicated team of Learning Mentors who provide 1:1, or small group, intervention as well as keyworker support if necessary
- Behavioural Learning Mentors for children who present with challenging behaviours.
- There is a number of staff who have first aid at work training.
- Dedicated medical room where basic medicines are stored and can be accessed with permission and under adult supervision. Whilst we are happy for students to take medicines at school, the student must have the levels of independence to be able to self-administer
- We have a dedicated Attendance Officer who liaises with staff, parents, EWO and any further agencies where deemed necessary
- Young people are our business, they will always be at the heart of everything we do and are therefore always encouraged to be a part of any processes or decision making which involve them
The expertise we have access to
- The SENCO has a Degree in English and Psychology, the OCR Level 7 Certificate in assessing and teaching learners with Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia), and the National SENCO Award for Special Educational Needs. She has over forty years teaching experience in mainstream schools in Zimbabwe, South Africa and England, has been a Head of Department in English, and had 7 years SENCO experience before coming to Bedford Free School. She is fully briefed in the new (2015) SEND code of practice.
- The school has three Pastoral Leaders who are non-teaching members of staff. All have undertaken safeguarding training, and two have completed the National Programme for Leaders of Behaviour Specialist and Attendance. Various courses which they have undertaken are: recognising domestic abuse; drug and alcohol misuse (impact on both parents and young people); and parental mental health and its impact on the young person. Between them they have completed: Learning Mentors Level 3 and 4; SEAL training; Level 2 counselling; Bedford Borough training on Looked After pupils / PEP paperwork; courses on supporting families through integrated working; awareness of child abuse and neglect of young people; and are on course to pass Level 3 Diploma in working with children and young people. They attend the Bedford Borough ‘School’s Attendance Conferences’
- There is a dedicated team of Learning Mentors most of whom are qualified to degree level (one of whom has a degree in Social Work). Training amongst the team include: disability, equality and diversity; safeguarding; first aid; developing strategies to support the learning of students with Special Educational Needs; dedicated and ongoing EAL courses; Autism awareness (including Asperger’s Syndrome); Sounds-Write programme delivery; AQA Units Award co-ordination; secondary SEAL (social emotional aspects of learning)
- We have a specialised and very experienced Lead Behaviour Learning Mentor whose most recent training includes: National Programme for specialist leader Behaviour Attendance; Level 4 Learning Mentor; Secondary Seal; Resolving conflict and effective practice when working with challenging young men and women’; First Aid in youth Mental Health, solution focussed problem solving approach; Restorative Justice; bereavement within the young; Child Protection and CAF. She is also a Strengthening Family facilitator. A second Behaviour Learning Mentor has recently gained a BA Honours Degree in Psychology and Criminal Behaviour.
- There are good links with external agencies, Bedford Free School will always seek outside advice or support if strategies and support has been exhausted within our own setting.
How we include your child in extra curricular activities
- We have an enrichment curriculum in which every child in school is expected to take part. This means that clubs and development days (alternative curriculum such as trips, sports days, team building, study skills, community exploration) take place in school hours and are timetabled. This puts us in the unique position of saying that 100% of our students take part in a very wide variety of extracurricular activities over the course of their schooling at Bedford Free School
- If deemed desirable or necessary, parents are very welcome to join school trips, this is organised on a case to case basis
- Homework club (open until 6pm) is also open to all students. Students would be expected to be able to work independently under staff supervision
How we prepare your child to join us or transfer to another setting
- There is an annual open evening and morning in September where any prospective students and their family are welcome to look around. All members of staff are available to answer questions
- Private tours are offered during school open hours
- The transfer process is initiated directly after successful application to the school
- Every child (and their parent//carers) is invited to, and expected to attend, a 1:1 meeting with a key member of staff where an Individual Learning Passport is established – this provides an opportunity for parents to share information about their child.
- For most students the Individual Learning Passports will only be developed further where there are Special Educational Needs
- Saturday taster sessions are offered for any student interested in coming to the school
- Members of staff from Bedford Free School liaise with staff at the child’s current school.
- Bedford Free School’s SENCO will have additional conversations with feeder school SEN teams where deemed necessary (i.e. where a child has been highlighted as having additional needs either by the parent/carer or feeder school)
- Every child is invited to a transition day in July
- Extra and personal transition days are organised where deemed helpful to aid a settled and calm transition.
- Support is offered at key transition times during the school life such as;
Year nine options
Year ten work experience and exploring post 16 opportunities
Year eleven GCSE results and post 16 route
- In depth information is passed on to any new setting / school / college a student moves on to
How we match our resources to your child
Resources are allocated according to school budget, the overall profile of the cohort of students in the school at any given time, and to cater for need to enable academic progression of all of our students
How we involve parents
- A home school agreement is drawn up and signed by student, parent and school at the very first 1:1 meeting this states:-
We believe that through regular communication, a relationship of trust between school and home can be created.
We will make sure that students and parents will be able to contact their teacher by phone and email and will reply to all communications from parents as soon as possible, usually within 48 hours.
We promise to welcome parents into the school community.
- School asks that in return the parent:-
…will always make [myself] available to the school by providing an up-to-date phone number and contact details.
…will communicate with the school in a timely and polite manner, in line with the School’s values (of Respect, Honesty and High Expectations)
- There is a Parent/Carer association – Friends of Bedford Free School
- We have parent governors
- Keyworkers will liaise as much or as little as school, student and parents require
How we include your child in the planning of their support
- Students will meet and feedback to their Keyworker as often as is needed, the keyworker can then liaise with parent if necessary.
- Students are invited to share any general concerns, worries or suggestions to their tutor or any member of the staff whom they feel they can trust. In the home/school agreement students are asked to read, understand and sign the following;
I will raise my hand and ask questions in class if I do not understand something.
I will complete all my homework and I will ask my teachers if I have a problem with the homework.
I will discuss any problems I am having at school with my parents and teachers.
- Students are always encouraged to be a part of the decision making, their views are taken into account and they will be fully involved and consulted in for example, the drawing up of their Individual Learning Passport, attendance plan, or behaviour meetings
General Contact Information
- The first point of contact should be the child’s tutor or keyworker
- Other staff who can support are the Pastoral Team, Assistant Principal (Pastoral) or SENCO who will then liaise with other members of staff as appropriate
- Bedford Free School is a comparatively small secondary school therefore most staff would, at some time or other, have a role in each child’s education
- Whilst we are an independent school (non-fee paying) we do buy into and liaise with Local Authority agencies with regards to for example: The SEND Team; Educational Welfare Officer – (EWO); Inclusion (Inclusion Support Team); Educational Psychologists; Autism Advisory Service (Jane Bent); and Social Care.
- For further information contact Esther Logan (PA to the SLT) who can book a tour or advise you who to talk to further
Contact for more information
Record Last Reviewed On: 04/10/2016