Owlswick School and Home Local Offer – Registered Children’s Home and Special Educational Needs School
Owlswick is located in Kingston, Lewes, East Sussex. It is a mile away from the town of Lewes and 7 miles from the south coast and the vibrant city of Brighton. We offer placements to young people from any part of the country with the majority coming from London and the South East.
We provide residential care, education and support to male or female young people aged between 9 -19. Young people who are live with us can come from a wide range of backgrounds and family situations. Some young people placed with us are looked after children and are not in contact with their families at the time of referral whilst others have contact with their families and/or carers and see them regularly. Young people can stay at Owlswick until they are 19 providing their placements will be supported by the referring local authority. We offer flexible placements from 38 – 52 weeks depending on the needs of the young person. We can also offer day placements in our school and will provide social support and care as part of these as needed.
A young person and their families/carers will usually already have contact with either the education or children’s services from their local authority area. Most young people will have a social worker involved with their family/carers and others will be in contact with the local special needs education team. All referrals to Owlswick are made directly from local authority children’s services. If you want your child/young person to be referred to Owlswick then a social worker or the education service will need to support the referral .You can contact Owlswick directly to talk about our services and how we work with young people so you are informed about what we do when you are talking to a social worker for example. Costs for placements are funded by social services, education and health services.
Decisions are made by local authorities and Owlswick. Once a local authority has talked to parents/carers and they and the young person have decided they wish to make a referral then they will contact Owlswick directly. There are times when a young person is already subject to a care order and needs a residential placement and again the local authority will contact Owlswick directly if this is the case. Once a referral is made Owlswick will the begin its assessment process and get to know the young person and any family/carers in order to assess if Owlswick is able to meet the needs of the young person. We always want to be sure that a placement at Owlswick will benefit a young person and they will be able to develop, learn and enjoy their time with us. We will also always talk to parents/carers at any time during the pre-assessment and assessment process in order to answer questions and ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your child/young person’s future.
“How will Owlswick communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making/planning?”
We are always talking to our young people about Owlswick and how they feel about their placements and personal situations. Each young person has a nominated key-worker who is responsible for their care plan and supporting them to manage any behaviours/emotional matters. The Registered Manager and Proprietor meet with the young people on a regular basis to talk about how Owlswick works and give an opportunity to influence decisions about the physical environment and planned activities for example. We believe in offering young people choices about the place where they live and we work hard to make these choices a reality where possible to do so.
Our school is fully accessible to young people who may have a physical disability. Our home is accessible and if a young person is placed with us with physical needs then we would make further adaptations as required.
There is an annual staff training programme which includes a yearly update on child safeguarding. Staff also have training in listening skills, anger management, anti-bullying, therapeutic crisis intervention and dealing with loss and bereavement amongst other areas. Staff also have access to workshop discussions with a trained psychotherapist to discuss how they are managing to support young people who are dealing with complex and challenging personal life experiences.
Owlswick School and Home provides specialist residential care, education and support to young people who have emotional, social and behavioural needs or may have been assessed as having a form of autism. All young people placed with us will have a statement of educational needs and may not able to attend mainstream education at this time. Our aim is provide a family style home where young people can also receive their education on site. Education is provided by an experienced teaching team who understand the barriers young people face in accessing school and learning when they have difficult and challenging life experiences coupled with emotional and behavioural issues.
Our aim in both home and school is for young people to achieve their aspirations and the best possible outcomes for the future. We aim for young people at Owlswick to grow and develop self-confidence, personal resilience and a positive sense of self-worth. We also aim for each individual to receive a high quality programme of education which will equip them for their future of further education and/or employment and independent living.
“How does Owlswick know if children/young people need extra help and what should I do if I think my child/young person may have special education needs. How well will you know my child?”
If you feel that your child/young person has special education needs then you will need to talk to the school they currently attend or the local children’s services team from your local authority area for more advice and support. You can also talk to Owlswick and we can give you information about who you need to talk to.
Owlswick School will plan a careful entrance back into school when a new young person enters education as we recognise the importance of understanding their needs and previous experiences before learning can begin. Every young person also has the support of a key-worker from the care team who will work closely with them to integrate into school life. We believe that preparation is essential to a young person being able to settle and access learning as this may often be after a long period of not attending school. The education team carefully study previous, accompanying records and reports and will use these to inform teaching plans and learning styles. They will also talk to previous teachers, families/carers, other professionals about the young person and meet the young person themselves. This is all part of the assessment process before a young person begins their placement in both home and school.
Understanding a young person’s background and any barriers to learning is critical before the young person starts school. The education team will ensure they are prepared to offer a flexible and informed teaching programme before a young person accesses school. If a young person is assessed as needing extra help in either care or education then this will discussed by the management team to see if this can be provided in house depending on the nature of the support required. Additional resources and external professional support will be accessed if required. The education team are also aware of the young person’s personal situation and understand that this can impact on their wanting and ability to learn on occasions. The team are trained to talk to young people when they are becoming angry or distressed and support them to remove the blocks to learning.
Owlswick is not an early year’s service provider.
Apart from the assessment and planning process that takes place by the education team when a young person is due to begin the school aspect of their placement, every young person is assessed on entry to determine their level of knowledge and ability. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is then agreed based on the objectives from the statement of educational need. All IEP’s take a S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) format and are reviewed every half term by the whole teaching team. IEP’s are also created when a learning pathway becomes clear from an individual’s progress. Owlswick teaches the national curriculum and ensures that this is taught based around individual level of need and progress. Staff include specialists in Maths, English, ICT, Science and Art and the all staff teach across specific parts of the curriculum. Young people study at the level they can manage whilst being encouraged to progress to more challenging learning levels with the aim of becoming independent learners. Our skilled staff design carefully planned differentiated schemes of work for every young person ensuring that stretching goals are set whilst balancing appropriate expectations of learning.
“How will you and I know how my child/young person is doing and how will you help me to support my child/s/young person’s learning?”
The key purpose of our education service is to provide an intimate environment where young people with special educational needs, can learn in very small groups in order to gain the best education possible.
Young people are supported in the class room by additional teaching resources such as a one to one Teaching Assistant where the statement of needs requests this. This provision is built into the placement plan before the young person begins their education. One general Teaching Assistant is also on site at all times.
The education team are always available for parents/carers to talk to and contact about a young person’s progress at school with the Head Teacher taking a lead in these discussions. If a parent/carer is concerned about any aspect of their child’s education then they can come and meet the team to talk this through. Assessment records for all young people are translated half-termly into clear and understandable formats. This information is shared and discussed amongst the staff teams, parents and carers and other external agencies who are involved in the young person’s placement and give a good indication of progress.
All young people have an annual education review to which all parents/carers and external agencies are invited to attend. These reviews enable progress to be measured and celebrated, specific issues or concerns discussed and targets for the next period set. Young people complete a personal statement prior to these meetings and also attend in order to express their views on their educational progress. Parents/carers are encouraged to attend in order to give their views and influence the education programme and planning for their child/young person. The education team can also advise and guide parents/carers on activities and educational games/books and toys that can aid learning when a young person is at home.
Where extra specialist input such as Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy has been assessed as needed for a young person then specialist hours are bought in from external professionals. These services then work in conjunction with the education team to support the young person in their learning. Owlswick employs an experienced psychotherapist to provide a range of therapeutic interventions tailored to an individual young person’s needs and this service is accessed as required. Other specialist professionals are employed on a contract basis where an assessment has been made that this is required to support a young person to progress in their education.
“How will my young person be included in activities outside of the classroom including school trips?”
All young people are included in activities outside of the classroom including school trips. Risk assessments are always completed before an activity or trip takes place and staffing ratios are high on these occasions with both care and education team staff providing one to one support if necessary for a young person. Parents/carers can request that their child/young person accesses a certain trip or activities at the review meetings.
“How will the specialist setting prepare and support my child/young person to join the specialist setting, transfer to a new specialist setting or the next stage of education and life?”
As already described much planning takes place before a young person comes to live and receive their education at Owlswick. The assessment process is thorough and includes a number of stages which include the young person visiting Owlswick and being visited by staff wherever they are living. The aim is for the young person to get to know some members of staff before they come to live with us, met other young people and see their personal space before they arrive. Our website includes a page for young people coming to live at Owlswick and this includes a list of questions a young person may have that have been written by the group of children living with us. We encourage lots of contact once a placement has been agreed in order for the young person to feel at ease and familiar as we recognise that this is often a big transition that can feel difficult or worrying. An important part of this is involving parents/carers in the assessment and visiting process in order for them to ask questions, meet the staff teams and express how they want the placement for their child/young person to work. Owlswick can provide lots of information about its care and education services but we feel the best way to get to know us and what we do is to visit us and talk about what we offer.
If a young person transfers to another placement or returns home, our staff will support this by accompanying them to see their new home, liaising with parents/carers and external agencies and ensuring that they have lots of opportunities to talk through where they are going, why they are moving and how they may be feeling. We always want to achieve a positive end to a placement and ensure that the young person is supported to move on as well as have an opportunity to say good bye to Owlswick.
Owlswick has a post 16 provision to enable young people to attend further education off-site or start in employment and continue to live at the home and receive support from both teams. A formal programme of independent living skills begins when the young person is 14 but there is always the opportunity to build new skills or take responsibility for themselves and their personal space. We aim for young people to feel self-confident about being independent as well as being equipped with the necessary life skills to manage when they move-on.
“How are Owlswick’s resources allocated and matched to the children’s and young people’s special educational needs?”
The management team ensure that available resources for both home and school are equitably allocated so each young person benefits in the home, school and social time. Each young person is assessed in school and this assessment will indicate any specialist equipment or additional class room resources that may be needed to aid their learning. These will then be purchased or provided by the school. The school is well equipped to support young people with special educational needs and each year improves on its resources in order to ensure individual needs can be met with the aim of offering the best possible learning experience.
The initial assessment process from both home and school is detailed and usually gives a good indication of the type of support a young person needs and how this needs to be provided. Parents/carers views are important in this assessment as they will often be the people who know their child/young person best and recognise the type of support they need in order to progress and achieve. We would also listen to external agencies and any other person or professionals involved with the young person as they will have experience that needs to be considered. Referring agencies will usually indicate what the level and type of support they will expect the young person to receive as part of the placement and Owlswick needs to demonstrate where and how they will meet these expectations before a placement begins. Regular reviews of a young person’s progress will also affect the support given and if this needs to changed or adjusted in some way. Whatever support is given, the overriding principle is that it is individually tailored and is flexible to enables growth and change for the young person. Owlswick measures how the support given is having an impact by using the care and education planning process and by setting goals for the young person to achieve. These goals are regularly adjusted to match the progress of the young person and they are part of discussions to review how they are doing and to plan the areas where they feel they need more or less support.
We aim for everyone involved with the young person to have a part in their placement. Parents/carers are invited to all reviews in both care and education and encouraged to attend and give us their views on our services in terms of how it is supporting their child/young person. At any time a parent/carer can speak directly to the Head Teacher and Registered Manager or key-worker regarding the progress of their child/young person. We ask for feedback on Owlswick on both a formal and informal basis in order to make continual improvement and affect change and developments where possible we act on what we receive from parents/carers as want to demonstrate views are listened to and respected. Parents/carer are invited to our open days and specialist events and visit Owlswick regularly.
If you want to know more about Owlswick and our care and education services or have any other questions or queries then please get in touch:
Leon Creenan is the Registered Manager for Owlswick‘s Children’s Home. He can be contacted on 01273 473078 or [email protected]
Olu Odunsi is the Head Teacher at Owlswick School. He can be contacted on 01273 473078 or [email protected]
Please also talk to your social worker or local education special educational needs team from your local authority area. Owlswick can help you find these contacts if needed or give you additional information of who you need to talk to if you want your child/young person to be referred to Owlswick.