Individual learning towards an independent life

Email: office@thewherryschool.co.uk - Phone: 01603 629440

Principal: Miss Rachel Quick

FAQs

https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/children-and-families/send-local-offer

What is the Local Offer?

Who is The Wherry School for?

The Wherry School will be for pupils aged 4-19 years who have a diagnosis of  autism. Learners will have a statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and will have a diagnosis of autism. They will have an average, above average or just below average ability. They will be struggling in mainstream school but would not be appropriately placed/have an appropriate peer group in a complex needs school or an ASD Specialist Resource Base

Will children who have a diagnosis of autism and severe learning difficulties be considered for the school?

Children who have severe learning difficulties as well as autism are likely to need a different type of approach to their learning than that which The Wherry School will offer. Parents are advised to speak to their child’s current school in the first instance if they have concerns about the appropriate provision and/or placement for their child. If you need help follow this link to the Norfolk Children’s Services Local Offer

Will children with ‘high-functioning autism’ be considered for places at The Wherry School?

Children with a diagnosis of ‘high-functioning autism’ may be appropriate for The Wherry School as they can have great difficulty in accessing the curriculum due to their special educational needs which often include very high levels of anxiety and sensory overload in mainstream schools.

What age range is The Wherry School for?

The Wherry School will eventually have pupils aged from 4 to 19.  The first group of pupils to be admitted in September 2017 will be in Years 1 to 8 only. The school will grow to full capacity over the next three years.

How many pupils will there be in The Wherry School?

We’re planning to grow the school over the next three years as follows:

Date               Planned number of pupils
September 2017 Up to 48
September 2018 60
September 2019 80
September 2020 100

Will The Wherry School offer an individualised curriculum?

The Wherry School will deliver a high standard, individualised and personalised curriculum which meets the unique needs of each individual learner and the requirements of the National Curriculum. Detailed knowledge of the strengths of each learner and the difficulties they experience will be key to enabling success.  We work with families to develop and design each learner’s individualised curriculum so we can include any learning needs identified in the home environment.

The Wherry School is a newly built school. What if the building is not ready for September 2017?

If completion of the building is delayed (due to bad weather perhaps) the school will open as soon as practically possible. The children will remain in their current placements until the building is ready. There are no plans to open the school in alternative buildings as it would not be in the best interest of children with autism to have to adjust to two different buildings in a very short space of time.

What about staff for the new school?

Advertisements for staff are being prepared and will be published in the coming months. The school will be fully staffed for the new pupils when it opens. It is planned that all teaching staff will be appointed by 31st May 2017. News about appointments will be posted on the school website here.

Who decides which children are offered places?

The decision to offer a place at The Wherry School is made by Norfolk Children’s Services – the ‘Local Authority’. They are advised by an Admissions Panel including the Interim Principal, and experts in special education and autism.

I want my child to have a place at The Wherry School. How do I go about getting one?

You will need to contact your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan Coordinator and let them know that you would like your child to be considered for a place at the school.

How do I get my child on The Wherry school waiting list?

There is a list of referrals for The Wherry school. There is no ‘waiting list’. Your Education, Health and Care Plan Coordinator will make the referral and send all the appropriate reports and papers including your child’s current statement or Education, Health and Care Plan to the Children’s Services SEN Placement Team for forwarding to The Wherry School. Your EHC Plan Coordinator can advise you about the progress of your referral and the outcome of the admissions meeting. The Wherry School cannot provide information about the outcomes of admission meetings as the final decision is taken by the Local Authority.

How will I know if my child gets a place?

If a decision is made to offer your child a place at The Wherry School the Local Authority will send you an ‘offer letter’ within ten working days of the admissions panel meeting. Your Education, Health and Care Plan Coordinator will contact you with the outcome of the meeting as soon as they can within ten working days of the date of the admissions meeting.

You will need to complete and send back the slip attached to the offer letter to say whether you want to accept the place.

I want my child to go to The Wherry School but he /she is still being assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). I’ve heard that all the places will be offered by the end of January 2017 so he/she is going to miss out?

It is unlikely that all the places will be offered by the end of January 2017.This is the target date for offering the first places. You should also remember that only up to 48 places will be offered for September 2017. More places will be available in September 2018, 2019 and 2020.

We’re planning to grow the school over the next three years as follows:

Date               Planned number of pupils
September 2017 Up to 48
September 2018 60
September 2019 80
September 2020 100

Are there more admissions meetings before the end of this school year?

Yes, there will be two more meetings on 21st March and 16th May 2017.

Can The Wherry School tell me about the outcome of the admissions meeting?

Your EHC Plan Coordinator can advise you about the progress of your referral and the outcome of the admissions meeting. The Wherry School cannot provide information about the outcomes of admission meetings as the final decision is taken by the Local Authority.

My Education, Health and Care Plan Coordinator told me that my child’s case had been ‘deferred to the next meeting’. What does that mean and why did it happen?

Sometimes the admissions panel asks for additional information about a child which isn’t available in the papers sent to the panel. They ask for this information to be obtained and made available to the next meeting.

My son / daughter wasn’t offered a place. The EHC Plan Coordinator said the school was unsuited to his/her ability. His/her reports say he/she has ‘below average’ ability. Does that mean he/she needs a complex needs school?

It is possible that your son /daughter may need a complex needs school place. Your EHC Plan coordinator will be able to advise you. In the first year or two The Wherry School will not be able to offer places to pupils across the full range of ability which it will be able to take when it is full. It is important for the school to begin with classes of pupils of similar ability as there will be a smaller number of classes at first. You may want to ask your EHC Plan Coordinator to put your child’s name forward for the 2018 admissions round for The Wherry School.

My son / daughter doesn’t have a statement or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) – can he / she be considered for the Wherry school?

The Wherry School is a special school which means that all its pupils have special educational needs which are set out in an Education, Health and Care Plan or a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

The Wherry School Trust acknowledges that there will be some parents wishing for their son or daughter to be considered for a place at The Wherry School but does not have an Education, Health and Care Plan or a statement of SEN. The Trust is aware that this will be a disappointment for some parents.

If you have concerns about your child’s educational provision and would have been expressing an interest in a place for him or her at The Wherry School we suggest that you speak to your child’s School SENCO to share your concerns and discuss how education provision for your son or daughter can be improved.  You can also contact independent organisations which can offer support and advice; details can be found on Norfolk’s Local SEND Offer website here.

My child has a statement of SEN and it hasn’t been converted to a Plan yet. Does that stop him/her being considered for the Wherry school?

Children who have statements of SEN or Education, Health and Care Plans can be considered for The Wherry School.

Can children who are of average or above average ability go to a special school? Surely, it’s for those of very low ability?

Sometimes children who are very able do have special educational needs. This can be very true of children who have autism as their difficulties can get in the way of their ability to learn. This is a special educational need

I filled in an Expression of Interest Form but my child hasn’t been considered for a place at the school. Why not?

Please check with your EHC Plan Coordinator about whether they have made a referral to The Wherry School. An Expression of Interest is not the same as a referral. Expressions of Interest were invited by The Wherry Trust to assess the level of interest in the school.

My child has already got a special school place. Can I ask for him/her to be considered for a place at The Wherry school?

If you believe your child fits the profile for The Wherry School, then you should contact your EHC Plan Coordinator and ask about a referral to The Wherry School.

How do I find out more about The Wherry School?

There’s lots of information about the school on the website and further information will be added over the coming months.

My daughter/son will be in Year 9 or above in September 2017. Does that mean she/he won’t be considered for a place?

The oldest pupils who will be considered for places will be Year 8 in September 2017.

The news that the school will intake only up to Year 8 in the first year of opening will, we are sure, be disappointing for you.

If you have concerns about your child’s educational provision and would have been expressing an interest in a place for him or her at The Wherry School we suggest that you speak to your child’s School SENCO to share your concerns and discuss how education provision for your son or daughter can be improved.   There are independent organisations who can offer support and advice; details can be found on Norfolk’s Local SEND Offer website.

Are you able to confirm when the pre inspection report will be available to view? – The Pre-opening inspection visit was undertaken by Ofsted, commissioned by the Department for Education (DFE) on June 16th 2017; the purpose of the visit was to review the progress that the school had made relative to the Independent School Standards.  There were three main outcomes from the inspection process; the first was to ascertain whether the school would be ready for opening in September – which it was agreed that it was.  The second related to the health and safety legislation regarding the set up and running of the school.  The policies were fully inspected and a site visit completed to ensure, as could be best judged, how policy would be put into practice.  The final judgement was about the school leadership and governance team’s capacity to develop a relevant, broad and balanced curriculum, which could be tracked and reviewed and led to appropriate outcomes for the children including GCSEs. A’Levels, vocational qualifications as well as statutory assessments in Key Stages 1 to 4.  The judgement made by the inspector was that the school was well positioned for opening.  This information was then passed to the DFE and subsequently to the school Trustees.  The inspection report does not make any judgements about the quality of teaching, leadership and management, outcomes for children, but ensures that the school is ready to open and be ready for a full inspection within the first two years of opening.  At this point in time the school has had notification from the DFE regarding the judgement of the inspector, concurring that the school opening should continue and that there is the likelihood of The Wherry School meeting the Independent School standards when it opens for children in September 2017.

I’ve been told the classes with be mixed ability and ages, is this the case?  The school is funded for 6 children in each class.  There are 4 classes in the Primary department.  This means that we have created a Key Stage 1 Class, a lower Key Stage 2 class (Year 3/4) and 2 further upper Key Stage 2 classes (Year 5/6).  The admission criteria for the school requires children to be of mainstream ability – the children do not have generalised learning difficulties which would mean that a place in a complex needs school would be more appropriate.  We anticipate that all the children are able to access the national curriculum subjects and the school curriculum map has been created with this in mind.  In the Primary Department we have created a 2 year curriculum map, which ensures that the children within the school do not repeat learning and the approaches to learning can be personalised to ensure all the children make progress.  As with any school the curriculum will be differentiated to meet the individual needs of the children.  The school classes are for 6 children who may be of different ages and school experiences, but they are supported as a minimum by 1 teacher and 2 teaching assistants, with further support from additional school leaders and welfare staff.  In the secondary provision the number of children in each year group increases to 12 (although in the opening year 2017 there are slightly more Year 7 children than Year 8) – however, the child staff ratios are maintained (1:2).  The Key Stage 3 curriculum is set up again as a 2 year programme and where there is a mixed age group class differentiation allows staff to target learning and support.  Decisions about where children are taught is negotiated with parents/carers and reflects their individual learning approaches experiences as well as the children’s own aspirations for themselves.

How does the curriculum work if they are mixed ages in each class?  As noted above, the curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of the individual children, but is created in line with the National Curriculum.   The curriculum is based on a 2 year rolling programme, across the school, so that children have access to a broad curriculum, with entitlement to all the National Curriculum subjects, GCSE courses etc.  The very small classes and high staffing ratios allow personalisation of the learning for every child, including targeted support for where children have gaps or misconceptions in their learning.