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St Catherine's Local Offer information

(A PDF of the local offer information is also attached to this page)

How we know if your child/young person needs extra help and what you should do if you think your child/young person may have SEN

St Catherine’s is a not-for-profit specialist day and residential school, based on the Isle of Wight.  We work with students aged seven to 19 years who have speech, language and communication needs.  Many of our students have multiple conditions and we support a range of abilities. 

Some of the difficulties our students have include:  ADD; ADHD; Asperger Syndrome; auditory memory difficulties; autistic spectrum conditions; dyslexia; dyspraxia (verbal/fine/gross); severe expressive and receptive speech disorders; and specific language disorders.

How we will support your child/young person

Our centre in the heart of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight provides: 

- specialist education;
- intensive speech, language and occupational therapy which is integrated into the curriculum;
- excellent residential facilities;
- comprehensive vocational training programmes; and
- life skills and opportunities to develop social interaction skills to prepare young people for their transition to independence.

We believe that all children and young people with speech, language and communication needs should – and can - fulfil their potential in life.  Our approach:

- supports effective learning;
- builds confidence and self-esteem; and
- reinforces the importance of providing wide-ranging personal development opportunities.

How we match the curriculum to your child/young person’s needs

In the main school, we provide education for children aged seven to 16 based on the National Curriculum and the individual needs of each child as detailed in his/her Statement of Special Educational Need.  Each of our small classes is led by a trained and experienced teacher as well as a speech and language therapist and an occupational therapist.  Occupational therapy assistants and learning support assistants provide further input.  Taught within Key Stages, each child’s individual needs are supported in a nurturing environment with appropriate interventions which promote well-established patterns of good behaviour.

Our separate sixth form centre provides education for young people aged 16 to 19.  Our sixth form provision offers an integrated educational programme which blends vocational and academic courses, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and independent living skills.

How we both know how your child/young person is doing and how we help you to support your child/young person’s learning

Baseline assessments are carried out for each student on their entry to St Catherine’s to establish their individual strengths and difficulties with respect to their educational, therapeutic and life skills’ needs.

Assessment of each student’s progress happens every day in every lesson.  This provides teachers and therapists with information and insight to improve their effectiveness.  Every lesson is planned to meet the individual needs of each student and all students’ progress is recorded.  Lesson observations take place for each teacher and therapist.  Where any student is not making the progress we would expect this is reviewed and strategies put in place.

We hold review meetings for each student on an annual basis.  As part of our partnership process, all professionals with an interest in the individual student are invited to contribute to and attend, together with parents/carers and the student themselves.  A written report is produced and sent out to all concerned.  In addition, termly Individual Education Plans are sent home and contributions sought from parents and young people, whilst staff from each of St Catherine’s specialist teams conduct liaison meetings at least three times a year with respect to each student to ensure an individualised and holistic approach is in place.  There are also opportunities to discuss pupil progress at our parent/staff consultation sessions. 

With respect to care, each student and his/her keyworker identify the skills needed to develop the self-confidence and independence of the young person.  Individual Care Action Plans are agreed and the keyworker will help your child work towards gaining these skills at a suitable pace.  It is usually the case that one Care Action Plan will be linked with your child’s Individual Education Plan and the other will focus on developing independence skills.

The care, teaching and therapy teams work together closely to ensure a consistent, co-ordinated approach for each student.

‘Exceptional collaborative working and attention to detail ensures all aspects of care are highly personalised to meet the individual needs of each student’ – Ofsted 2013.

‘All staff work well together to foster excellent relationships amongst students, leading by example in classrooms and the residences.  Everyone is polite and respectful of each other’s needs.  There is no discrimination of any kind and everyone has an equal opportunity to use all available resources to the fullest extent’ – Ofsted 2014.

The support we will offer for your child/young person’s overall well being

Our track-record demonstrates that by integrating speech and language and occupational therapy into the whole curriculum – both in terms of education and residential care – young people are given the best possible learning environment.  We focus on students:

- gaining life skills;
- being supported to integrate into the local community;
- having opportunities for social interaction;
- benefitting from individually-tailored support programmes;
- managing medical issues; and
- developing their interests.

Each of our students – who are a mixture of day pupils, weekly boarders and termly boarders – has his/her own educational and care plan integrating life skills, learning and language therapy.  This work is enhanced by our occupational therapy and medical teams. 

We work hard to maintain well-established patterns of good behaviour.  Each student is encouraged and helped to take responsibility for himself/herself as good self-discipline is the ultimate goal.  Sanctions, when necessary, are restricted to the withdrawal of privileges.  Some learners may benefit from behaviour programmes from time to time and any serious issues are discussed with parents.  Reward programmes are in place to recognise and celebrate positive behaviour.

We focus not only on academic success but also on the development of each student as a whole person, building on their strengths.  We support each student with their emotional development, helping them with relationship management and developing social and emotional resilience.  We provide a home from home experience for our residential students, with each young person having their own individual bedroom and being supported to pursue out of school activities.

‘Students live happy, active lives at school.  They enjoy warm, trusting relationships with each other and staff.  This underpins excellent progress in their social development.  Students lead their own residential experience and feel that their voice is listened to.  They are exceptionally well behaved’ – Ofsted 2014.

The specialist services and expertise which we provide

We offer specialist care, education and therapy to young people with speech, language and communication needs and associated conditions.  Our highly qualified and experienced staff create a positive environment in which young people can reach their potential.

In order to meet the needs of language-impaired learners, we maintain high staff-to-student ratios which lead to greater individual attention.

Each class has a teacher, a speech and language therapist and an occupational therapist who work together to plan programmes and agree targets.  Additionally, occupational therapy assistants and learning support assistants work with students both within the classroom and on a one-to-one basis.

We have a dedicated nurse within St Catherine’s and our medical officer is a local GP.  The services of a local dentist, optician, child and adolescent psychotherapist, physiotherapist and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service are available.  In addition, we access support from - and work closely with - key agencies as appropriate for our students’ needs.  We liaise closely with parents regarding all medical and health issues.

Our kitchens are run by a chef manager who leads the catering team to produce delicious home-cooked dishes, so that all our students receive their recommended daily requirements.  We support a wide range of dietary requirements.  The catering facilities have received a Five Star Food Hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency.

We have developed a vocational training service, The Work Station, in recognition of the difficulties that young people with speech, language and communication needs face.  This enables them to gain appropriate experiences and opportunities to help them when considering further learning, training or the right work environment.  From Year 11 onwards, this is supplemented by courses run at the local college.

‘An excellent team of various professionals, such as speech and language therapists and occupational therapists, work collaboratively with education and care staff to ensure the immediate and long term individual needs of each student are being met’ – Ofsted, 2013.

‘Outcomes for residential pupils are outstanding. Quality of residential provision and care is outstanding. Leadership and management of the residential provision are outstanding’ – Ofsted 2014.

Staff training

Emphasis is given to staff training which relates to the specific requirements of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and associated conditions.  A range of accredited courses and qualifications are undertaken by staff each year to further support our students’ education, therapy and care.  In addition, St Catherine’s has developed an extensive training programme for staff from other schools to share our expertise.

Child protection training is provided for all staff as part of their induction and is refreshed regularly.

We have been successful in achieving recognition as an Investor in People which confirms the central position that the quality of staff and their training plays at St Catherine’s.

How your child/young person will be included in activities outside the classroom

Our location gives students opportunities to practise their new skills outside of school without the harshness of a big town/city environment or the remoteness of a greenfield site.  We offer a range of activities which are in easy reach and we are actively involved in the local community.  In addition, the Isle of Wight provides a ‘real life’ setting for practising essential life skills such as independent travel on various forms of transport.

Our students:

- go shopping, learning at the same time how to manage money, budget, plan ahead and practise language and communication skills;
- visit the local town to develop their independence, including learning to keep safe whilst in an outdoor public environment; and
- join in community-based activities and entertainment, meet new people and try new ventures – e.g. youth club, local interest groups, Duke of Edinburgh awards and sports.

Our young people also take part in a number of vocational training and work experience opportunities on the Island, which allow them to learn in practical ways about the world of work with the support of our experienced staff.

Young Enterprise is a programme in operation at St Catherine’s which aims to introduce older students to running a business.  Supported by an external business manager, students design and implement a business plan, open bank accounts, attend trade fairs and run a profit-making business.

‘Students are excellent ambassadors for their school.  Their well-received contributions to community events has been frequently recognised and celebrated by others…  Students develop as confident learners and members of the wider community’ - Ofsted 2014.

The accessibility of the school’s environment

Each young person has an individual programme tailored to meet their specific needs.  We ensure that our culture and ethos are such that, whatever the abilities and needs of our students, everyone is valued equally and treats one another with respect. 

We make arrangements to enable students to access exams, through the provision of readers, scribes, oral language modifiers, transcripts and/or additional time during exams as appropriate. 

We have made a number of improvements to the physical environment including:

- specialist ICT equipment, desks, chairs, cutlery, portable aids and other specific supports;
- additional hand railing across the site;
- visibility paint to highlight steps and hand rails;
- disabled parking bays; and
- the installation of ramps, a wheelchair-accessible entrance and a wheelchair-accessible toilet.

The steep gradient of many parts of the site means that wheelchair access is very restricted at present:  resources are being sought to improve accessibility.

A staff member from each department attends meetings of the Total Communication Group which works to improve signage and other means of communication across the site.  Staff have been trained in the use of a recognised symbol system to enhance students’ understanding and training in Sign-supported English has taken place.

‘The premises provide challenges which are addressed creatively.  Single rooms are available to all, which students are encouraged to personalise.  Communal space provides opportunities for individual and shared activities’ – Ofsted 2014.

How we will prepare and support your child/young person to join the school, transfer to a new setting or the next stage of education and life

Our students usually have a Statement of Special Educational Need/Educational, Health and Care Plan with a primary need which will affect their speech, language and communication.  Many of our students have multiple conditions and we cater for a range of abilities.

Places can be funded by local authorities or by parents and applications will be accepted from either party.

Having reviewed the young person’s statement of special educational needs and up-to-date reports to ensure that we can meet his/her needs, we then arrange a convenient time for parents to make an informal visit.  Following this, your child/young person will be invited for a three-day interview which will help us all assess whether St Catherine’s is right for your child and your family.

‘A sensitive and thorough induction process ensures the school is an appropriate placement, and the rigorous implementation and review of individualised plans enables pupils to make continued progress during their time at the school’ – Ofsted, 2012.

We provide learners with opportunities to:

- improve their communication;
- strengthen their learning skills;
- raise their literacy and numeracy levels;
- enjoy a variety of work and vocational experiences; and
- grow in personal and social maturity.

Our education, therapy and care departments work together to ensure the best for each young person.  Across all activities there is a focus on young people’s personal development, so that they can gain the skills they need to integrate into their local communities to ensure success when they leave.

‘Everything is geared towards equipping students to move on.  A parent observed that ‘staff all seem to share the school ethos of helping students reach a point where they have the confidence to lead their own lives’.  Staff know students well and provide consistent care and individually tailored support’ – Ofsted 2014.

How we allocate and match resources to support students’ special educational needs

We are a charity which supports children, young people, their families and others who are disadvantaged because of their speech, language and communication needs.  We provide a range of services which include running our residential special school and sixth form centre, vocational training, integrated therapy, outreach services and advice and support to parents and families.

Our resources are focussed wholly on fulfilling our charitable goals and specific support packages are put in place for each student on an individualised basis.

‘Resources are well organised so that students gain the most from them… Governors know how additional funds have been used to improve teaching so that everyone has the best opportunity for learning well… All expenditure is closely monitored and school leaders are held to account to ensure that resources are used effectively’ – Ofsted 2014.

How we decide what type and how much support your child/young person will receive

The individual needs of each student are supported as detailed in his/her Statement of Special Educational Need/Education, Health and Care Plan.  Our expert education, therapy and care staff assess each young person’s requirements in consultation with other professionals, parents/carers and (where appropriate) the young person themselves.  Regular reviews take place and tailored adjustments are made accordingly.

Each student has his/her own individual educational and care plan integrating education, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, vocational education, residential care and recreational activities.  Goals are identified and progress towards the achievement of these is monitored by rigorous data collection and analysis.

‘Good tracking systems provide school leaders with precise information about rates of individual achievement.  They analyse the results to decide how to pitch additional support for those who are not making anticipated progress, as well as to provide extra challenge for those who are forging ahead... Teachers, therapists and carers make an equal contribution to improvement planning.  This means that students benefit from well-coordinated learning and development programmes’ – Ofsted 2014.

How we involve parents

We understand the importance of supporting not only children and young people with speech, language and communication needs but also their families. 

We have a number of parents who are able to offer informal advice and information to the parents/carers of prospective students.

We actively keep in regular contact with parents about their child’s progress.  Parents are also encouraged to keep in close contact with staff if they have any questions, concerns or just want to discuss their young person.

Mobile phones are permissible outside of school hours and parents are welcome to phone in using the house phone lines or to email or write to their child as often as they wish.  Staff assist students to stay in touch by supporting them to write letters, send and receive emails and to telephone home.

Parents are welcome to attend a variety of events at St Catherine’s including annual reviews, end of term assemblies and chapel services, staff/parent meetings, the summer fair, open classroom sessions, sponsored walks and receptions.

For further information

For further information about St Catherine’s and/or to arrange an informal visit, please telephone 01983 852 722 or email general@stcatherines.org.uk