Severndale Specialist School, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

| February 10, 2010 | 3 Comments 

Our life is certainly varied.

What a joy, therefore, to spend the first of two days Severndale Specialist School, near Shrewsbury, in Shropshire.

Severndale is a Specialist School for Communication and Interaction. They cater for pupils aged two and a half to nineteen who have profound, severe or moderate learning difficulties.

We saw some remarkable minds, and imaginations, in action today. Powerful use of language. Creative juggling of ideas. Well developed senses of humour. Just a delightful bunch of sparky children, of all ages, throughout the school.

Those children are supported by a dynamic team of staff, who have the welfare and progress of their students at the heart of their practice.

Ofsted currently rates the school as a ‘good school with many outstanding features’ It is not hard to see why.

Thank you to Sarah Llewellyn, Gary Dean, Deputy Headteachers, for organising our visit. Thanks, also, to their colleagues and students for making our day such an enjoyable one. We look forward to setting some challenges for the teachers, and support staff, tomorrow. 🙂

A bit more about Severndale School:

The school is HUGE. It is broken up in to a few sections, based on a large campus.

The Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage department comprises the Assessment Nursery and up to three Reception classes. There are two nursery classes, admitting children from the age of two years six months until statutory school age. Following multidisciplinary assessment children either remain at Severndale, or move to a range of mainstream placements.

As in all schools, both the Nursery and the Reception classes follow the EYFS framework which works towards the Early Learning Goals. They also use a High/Scope model of active learning through motivating, exciting activities. They encourage children to make choices, solve problems, develop independence and have fun!

All children benefit from regular input from the speech and language therapist, and children receive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy when appropriate.

All groups within the department use the facilities available in school – pool, interactive room, sensory garden and soft play room. Outdoor activities are an important part of their curriculum, acknowledging the link between physical development and thinking skills in young children. They have a wide range of resources to use outdoors, which are planned on a rolling programme, to develop exploration, investigation, knowledge and understanding of the world, as well as physical skills.

Lower School

The Lower School seeks to build on work begun in the Early Years Foundation Stage, and to develop each child’s communication and interaction skills, personal, social and independence skills, and positive attitudes to learning, as well as accessing all subjects of the National Curriculum.  The National Literacy and Numeracy strategies have been adapted to meet the needs of their children in order to ensure they are relevant and challenging.  Curriculum areas are linked through a thematic approach with an emphasis on active and interactive teaching and learning and these plans are shared with parents to facilitate home and school working closely together.

Most children also have access to riding for one term of each year and regular swimming using their hydro-therapy pool.

Middle School

Middle School includes pupils from Years 5 to 8 (10-13 year olds).  It is an exciting time in which pupils continue to build on their previous successes and develop new skills in a happy and challenging environment.

The curriculum supports the development of communication and interaction skills, personal, social and independence skills, and positive attitudes to learning.  All the pupils follow the National Curriculum which has been differentiated and adapted to meet individual needs.  They teach the subjects through a thematic approach to allow for a consistency to the learning throughout the day.  Teaching takes place either in individual, small group, or whole class situations depending upon individual needs and curriculum requirements.

A variety of excellent spaces including outside classrooms, sports hall, hydrotherapy pool, interactive room, and specialist science, drama, food technology, and art rooms support and enhance the learning that takes place. The curriculum is supported by offering a wide range of sports, arts, dance and drama specialists to work closely with their young people.  A programme of inclusion with mainstream secondary schools is offered to pupils as appropriate.  Pupils are able to access design and technology, sports, drama and dance lessons during these programmes.  All pupils also have access to a range of educational visits to support and enhance the learning and teaching and aid bringing the curriculum to life, enriching and supporting the enjoyment and value to our pupils’ education.

Upper School


The Upper School caters for pupils in National Curriculum years 9 to 11 (13 – 16 years of age).  They aim to provide a broad and balanced curriculum that builds on previous skills learnt and continues to enhance independence, social interaction and communication skills. Pupils are challenged and stimulated to achieve their full potential and are provided with the opportunity to gain appropriate accreditation in the form of either ASDAN Transition Challenge, ASDAN Bronze and Silver Award or Entry Level Courses.

Their young adults experience a variety of enrichment activities that increase their breadth of knowledge and experiences including many community visits, use of local swimming and sports centres, inclusion within local mainstream schools, visiting theatre and dance groups and the use of the local Tickwood Farm. They have a successful Mini Enterprise project that encourages life skills and money management as-well as enhancing imagination and creativity.

Many of their projects utilise their excellent on-site facilities including their Horticultural area, sports hall, hydrotherapy pool interactive room and specialist science, drama, food technology, design technology and art rooms.  Some of the school’s pupils work in collaboration with Sixth Form students and other local groups to attain awards within the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

6th Form

In the Sixth Form the focus is on preparing students for their next setting, whether it is employment, further education, or day centre provision.  The emphasis of learning and teaching is on the practical use of skills learnt from previous years and accrediting student achievement through a range of appropriate courses that are well recognised by colleges and employers.

The Sixth Form offers a range of different courses from a selection of awarding bodies, including ASDAN, AQA and Duke of Edinburgh, which are specifically chosen to meet the needs of the students with an emphasis on preparing them for the next possible stage in their life.  Through various transition links, students attend different provisions on offer so they are able to experience them first hand in a safe and secure way.  This increases confidence and motivation whilst also creating a more informed decision making process for student, parents and professionals involved.

Assessment of student attainment is continued from previous years to ensure continuity and show progression through the use of Milestones and National Curriculum Levels.  More able students are also given the opportunity to participate in an extended Work Experience programme which is supported and matched to the individual.  This allows students to practice skills learnt at school whilst also learning specific social skills necessary for the workplace.  No matter what the ability level of the student, the duration of the last 3 years at Severndale is focused to ensure the best start to adult life.

Outreach Service

The Outreach Service offers support to mainstream schools with pupils who have complex learning difficulties. Support is given to teaching and non-teaching staff in a number of areas including curriculum access and differentiation; setting appropriate targets; support during transition. The Outreach Service provides an assessment/support service for pupils who may need technology to support communication and/or curriculum access.

The Outreach Service is able to provide short-term intensive mentoring for TA’s in mainstream schools. This support by TA’s from the Outreach Service to model strategies and demonstrate the use of loaned resources to support learning and positive management of behaviour resulting from complex learning difficulties.

The Outreach Service is also able to offer advice and support for schools and pupils with physical disabilities. This can include manual handling training and risk assessments.  It is also possible to support mainstream schools who are managing challenging behaviour arising from complex learning difficulties.

The Outreach Service offers bespoke training for schools to meet the needs of the staff supporting pupils with a range of complex learning difficulties, following discussion with the Head of the Outreach Service. The Outreach Service is also able to provide recognised courses in Makaton, sign language programme, and courses from Elklan; further details are available on request.

The Outreach Service houses a comprehensive resource library of reference books and resources which can be loaned to schools to support the inclusion and learning of their pupils with complex needs in conjunction with support from the Outreach Service Team.

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (3)

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  1. s.petersohn says:

    I attended Tim and Sarah’s session today and was absolutely enthralled by their approach to learning. If a fraction of their enthusiasm has rubbed off on the staff and pupils of our school then huge leaps of progress should soon be seen across all departments.

  2. Katie Teates says:

    Hi just inquiring if you still do manual handling training, we had someone who came out to our Nursery and delivered this training from yourselves and we have had a few new staff members join our team and we are keen for them to recieve this as well. If you could let me know if its something you still do and we could arrange a date and time.
    Thank you Katie.

  3. Tim says:

    Hi Katie. We have never led this kind of training. There is some confusion here I am afraid. We run training on using technology, creatively, to inspire. Good luck with finding out something, maybe elsewhere. Regards, Tim

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