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About

Vision Statement

We aim to be the best in class in every area in which we operate


The vision for Our Place is to:

  • Give the children and young people a home in which they feel cherished and secure, happy and safe, clean and healthy, fulfilled and content

  • Give the children and young people a person centred and seamless approach to education, therapy and care

  • Provide children and young people with special needs with an individually tailored, flexible, needs led service which is responsive to change and that promotes an ordinary home environment.

  • Provide a first class short breaks service for children, young people and their carers

Our Place provides its children and young people with a first class home and first class care, combined with a first class, relevant and fulfilling education.

Small is Beautiful

We intend to keep the home and school small, to allow for greater flexibility for the children and young people whilst achieving consistency of approach and communication. We believe, and research evidence is now supporting, that children and young people with learning disabilities flourish better in small, family type homes.

Teaching Methods


Staff Ratio

Staffing will be on a ratio of 1 young person to 1.5 staff or higher dependent upon the activity. Methods used include Free Flow, interactive learning programmes, Intensive Interaction, Sensory Integration, Social Skills Training, PECs, Total Communication, Makaton, TEEACH as well as more traditional methods.

Gentle Teaching Style

Gentle Teaching often starts in one-to-one contact between the child and one of their teachers, teaching assistants or support workers. It is important that the child learns eventually to feel safe with the other children he/she lives or works with.

Learning for our children is a waking activity. The tools of gentle teaching are always carried with us. They are our hands and touch, eyes and gaze, speech and words and staff presence. We develop new values which are congruent with the principles of the psychology of interdependence. A child isn't to be judged for what he/she does, but valued for who he/she is. Everybody needs to feel safe, cherished for themselves with an understanding of how they are connected to others. We believe trust is more important than obedience; interdependence is more important than independence.

Celebrating Achievement

At Our Place pupils are taught to recognise and reflect on their own progress and achievements and to help plan the next 'step' in their learning. Staff use a combination of praise, encouragement and positive reinforcement to instil a sense of pride and self-worth and to actively promote motivation for learning. Pupils' achievements are recognised by all and publicly acknowledged with frequent opportunities to celebrate success. Incentive/reward schemes are used as appropriate to individual pupils.

Curriculum Policy

All pupils at Our Place are offered choices and opportunities within the context of a relevant and fulfilling education. We constantly strive to make learning accessible, meaningful and transferable to all aspects of our pupils' lives, enabling them to help shape their own futures and achieve their full potential. It is our philosophy that we teach the way each young person learns. All young people at 16 years take a QCF qualification in Personal and social Development/Life Skills, selecting units which will enable them to develop independence skills relevant to their adult lives.

At Our Place, we are fully aware that learning is an on-going process and that good education is not confined to the classroom. We believe in the development of the "hidden" curriculum; at all times and in a variety of situations, staff promote and foster the development of trust, co-operation, self-esteem, confidence and motivation through our fully integrated approach to education and care.

The School Year

The school year runs with a four week summer break, extending the autumn and summer half term breaks to two weeks each. The intention is to facilitate family holidays whilst shortening the terms to more acceptable levels for children and young people with learning disabilities.

However, the breaks still have a consistent structure and activities for the children and young people to enjoy.

All family birthdays are recognised so that the children and young people keep up to date with their family. We also make sure that the children and young people have a birthday celebration that suits their personal preferences, for example, a meal out and the swimming pool or a party and disco.

Leaving Education

Children with Statements of Educational Need/Education Health care Plans are entitled to remain in full time education until the end of the school year in which they are 19. The decision as to when it is most appropriate for a child or young person to leave is made through the review process. Children may also leave when their need for the intensive support offered by Our Place is no longer required. Transition planning starts in the academic year in which a child or young person is fourteen (usually Year 9). At this time, social services departments become involved in identifying the type of provision the young person will require. Adult Services become responsible following the 18th birthday of the child.

Individual Care and Support


Individual Care

It is the stated aim of Our Place to provide individual care for all of our children and young people. This is implemented through:

  • Continuous assessment and developmental planning, taking all needs into account and used to assist learning

  • A designated Key Worker who will have been chosen for that position taking into account the child or young person’s preferences alongside the employees skills and suitability

  • Individual Care Plans identifying the child or young person’s needs. These are then implemented and monitored by the Key Worker with support from the child or young person’s teacher, and in consultation with all involved professionals

  • Diet and nutritional needs monitored by the Cook

  • Recording the child or young person’s daily intake in their daily diary so as to assist in the planning of meals to allow children to have a good choice of food

  • Taking children’s views, preferences and consent fully into account in carrying out personal care including the timing and preference of staff to assist with particular tasks. The child or young person’s dignity and privacy are to be maintained at all times

  • Keeping each child or young person’s daily diary. This document is used to keep records of all the activities that the child or young person does during the day, their diet, their moods and level of cooperation to help assist with analysing situations and informing staff as to the child or young person’s preferences.

  • Keeping an individual permanent file in a safe place. This holds all relevant information and is maintained by the Key Worker.

  • Having the Key Worker review the daily diary, permanent file and Care Plan at least monthly by the Key Worker to ensure that they hold current information. Out of date information is transferred to the child or young person’s confidential file and stored in a locked storage area. The permanent files and Care Plans are reviewed quarterly as part of the quality assurance system.

Our Place provides its children and young people with a first class home and first class care, combined with a first class, relevant and fulfilling education.

Advocacy and Self Expression

This policy will guide staff in the provision of an environment in which there are fair and equitable services and opportunities for all those cared for within the home. As the children live in a group home it is even more important that their individual needs are recognised. Staff will support the children to make their desires and requests known. This will be done through a variety of methods from teaching basic communication skills – like/don’t like, yes/no, good/not good – provision of a Key Worker for each of our children through to the provision of an external advocate service.

Developing new relationships

Our Place sees no impediment to children developing new relationships and in fact this shows a developing maturity and emotional progress. However, the emotional vulnerability of those involved will be taken into account and if it is considered by all parties - professionals and parents - that one or other of the parties are likely to suffer serious personal harm, efforts will be made to distract and deter the relationship from developing any further.

Self Expression

Our Place encourages self expression and to support this provides the following:

  • Access to computers with web cams, email, internet with nanny service, letters, phone calls and photos or videos to their parents subject to written parental authority

  • Careful induction planning and preparation e.g. visits, sleepovers, personalised information packs

  • Access to on-site qualified staff and external therapists including Mental Health nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, music, art, dance, drama therapy and other health or psychiatric services as required as well as local NHS services.

Our Place provides its children and young people with a first class home and first class care, combined with a first class, relevant and fulfilling education.

Values


In every area of their experience during their stay at Our Place, our young people are treated as individuals, with individual needs and preferences. Both in care and education, we work on the positives of a young person’s character and help them to develop skills and development.

From the top down, everything we do, plan and develop in the school is primarily aimed at providing positive outcomes for our young people.

Although every aspect and activity is part of a structured programme, we have staff who will go the extra mile to support and encourage the young people in their care – and they show true joy in seeing positive progress and achievement.

Our success stories are testament to the approach of Our Place and the attitude its fine staff.

Staff


Staffing

The home and school is run by a Senior Management Team (SMT) of Head of Facilities (Responsible Person), Head of Care (Registered Manager), Head of Education, Head of Business & Administration and Care Managers.

A senior manager is on call 24 hours a day.

In the home a Duty Manager leads each team of support workers.

There are three teams who work a shift rota. The support workers provide additional support to the children in school. Each team will have a mix of male and female staff and age ranges above the minimum 21 years. The school employs qualified teachers with experience in the field of Severe Learning Disabilities and challenging behaviours. Each class will be taught and supported by one teacher, one teaching assistant and support workers to bring in a ratio of one child or young person to one and a half staff. Members of the care and education staff are supported by ancillary staff including an experienced and qualified maintenance team, landscaping team, catering team and administration team.

We hold a single central register listing all staff qualifications and safeguarding information, this is only open to examination by those who have a legal right to do so.

Qualifications

A large proportion of the staff team have had prior training up to NVQ3 in Caring for Children or equivalent or higher qualifications, those that don’t hold the minimum qualification (NVQ 3) prior to starting will undertake training for the Level 3 Children and Young People’s Workforce Diploma or Advanced Apprenticeship in Children’s Care and Learning Development soon after completion of their probationary period.

Many of the staff will have previous experience in the field of Severe Learning Disabilities and challenging behaviour and will have additional qualifications such as B.A (Hons) degrees in other areas such as Drama, Art and Music education

Senior Staff

David French - Director

David French has held a number of senior management posts and is experienced in start ups, MBOs, IPOs, acquisitions, disposals and turn arounds. He was appointed Investor Director in March 2013 and is responsible for operations and business development. In addition to his operational role, he is a member of the Board of Governors.

Lena Greatwich - Head of Facilities – Registered Manager

Lena is an extremely experienced manager. She holds qualifications in counselling skills, NVQ 4 Health and Social Care - Children & Young People as well as the NVQ4 in Leadership and management in Care – Children & Young People. She has previously been a Support Worker and Team Leader within a residential home for young adults and children. She went onto become the manager of a small home unit.

Sandra Jones - Head of Business Administration

Sandra has 25 years experience working in accounts as Office Manager. She has been a Director of J&CM Brook Limited for 15 years prior to working at Our Place. Sandra holds responsibility for managing the financial department of Our Place. Sandra has an insight into children with Autism through personal experience

Sarah Davies - Head of Care

Sarah has 18 years’ experience working in residential special education and 7 years in senior management, where she has achieved Outstanding Quality of Care. She has worked with young people with MLD, SLD, ASD and EBD, and has introduced both communication methods such as PECs and Makaton and therapeutic interventions. She has also worked successfully with issues relating to substance misuse.

Sarah has previously held the position of Independent Complaints Advisor for a local authority in the children’s and family team, and has been an independent Regulation 33 visitor for two services. She holds an Advanced Diploma in Health & Social Care Level 3, a Diploma in Health & Social Care Level 4 and a Diploma in Leadership and Management Level 4.

Chris Coombs - Head of Education

Chris joined Our Place in November 2016 with plans to build on the work and educational structure that was in place.

He spent his early career working in a number of positions following his interests but realised in 2004 that what he really wanted to do was work in education and spent time working in a main stream primary school before successfully applying for a job as a teaching assistant at an SEN school. Whilst working there he finished his initial degree and then went on to complete his teacher training in a main stream primary school. After spending 4 years working at a residential EBD, he spent just over 4 years working in a large SEN school where he realised that this was something that he had a real passion for and an ability to really thrive in. He is passionate about outdoor education and his plans include extending the opportunities available to our students through the use of Our Place’s extensive grounds, alongside the relationships already fostered with some local farms.

Chris’s qualifications include a BA (Hons) Human Geography, Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Studies, MA Education, National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders and he is also a certified Nurture Group Practitioner.


The Our Place Schools Ltd Board of serving Governors are as follows:

  • David French (Chair)

  • David Hall

  • Joanne Lofting

  • Sarah Rouse

  • Anne Conry

  • Adam Greaves

Total Communication Policy


Our Total Communication approach is used to develop the functional communication of children attending Our Place. This means that we encourage the use of all appropriate means of communication including verbal skills, signing, body language, written text, picture symbols and other low tech and hi tech methods.

Total communication means that we encourage the use of all appropriate means of communication:

  • Verbal skills including speaking and listening

  • Signing including gesture and body language

  • Written text

  • Picture symbols accompanied by written word(s)

  • Photographs

  • Objects of reference

  • High Tec. communication aids (such as the Go Talk range)

  • Low Tec. Aids e.g. symbolic/pictorial representation

Aims


We help children find a way of expressing themselves using good, functional communication

We help children find a way of expressing themselves using good functional communication. They therefore develop their receptive and expressive communication skills. We ensure that each child's individual communication system is developed and used consistently across the school site and off site. This includes assistance for parents/carers.

The child's Key Worker and teacher are the Speech and Language Therapy Department's primary contacts. However, all staff are able to understand and work with all aspects of total communication.

An education that will enable them to reach their maximum potential, and will help them to:

  • communicate effectively through a Total Communications approach
  • access and participate in their local and wider community
  • learn how to manage their own behaviour appropriately and safely
  • enhance their economic well-being by earning extra pocket money, by selling their own produce and through mini enterprise projects

Our Place aims to provide:

  • Individual care for all of our children
  • Short term care and full time residential and educational placements in a range of packages designed to suit the individual’s needs
  • High quality person-centred care combined with an individual needs led education, focusing on developing the children and young people’s abilities, skills and interests
  • A home and school that maintains dignity, is sensitive to individual need and promotes independent learning
  • A supportive and nurturing environment that encourages and promotes communication, positive behaviour patterns, cooperation and mutual respect
  • Its children and young people a first class home and care, combined with a relevant and fulfilling education.

At Our Place every child has

  • A Care Plan based on the Placing Authority Placement Plan, parental advice and our own assessments
  • An Individual Education Plan (IEP), Individual Behaviour Plan (IBP) and Independence Skills Plans (ISP) based on the Statement of Educational Need and appropriate multi disciplinary assessments
  • An Education that will help them:
    • communicate effectively through a Total Communications approach
    • access and participate in their local and wider community
    • learn how to manage their own behaviour appropriately and safely
    • achieve a degree of economic well being by earning pocket money, selling their own produce and through mini enterprise projects
  • Opportunities to participate in enjoyable and motivating activities and experiences, inclusive of opportunities for success and celebration of progress and achievement
  • Their own personalised bedroom
  • The right to choose their own clothes, toiletries and personal style
  • A choice of healthy and appetising food
  • Privacy, dignity, freedom from abuse and bullying in any form
  • A children’s guide to the home in a format that they will understand e.g. Makaton, photos, social story, symbols or spoken language
  • Regular multi disciplinary reviews of their progress and wellbeing

Managing Aggression

We predominately employ the gentle teaching style, however, should a situation arise that cannot be de-escalated then trained staff can use as a last resort for safety reasons the Managing Actual & Potential Aggression – restrictive holds from the Positive Options training if part of the Behavioural Management Plan for that child.

Accommodation


The residential provision is in a 1920s house. The home has been converted to make it suitable for the provision of care whilst maintaining a homely feel. There are ten single bedrooms, two dining rooms, two living rooms – one for family type activities and one for children who have visitors or want to sit in a quiet area.

The house has bathrooms with showers and wet room with temperature-controlled taps. Children or young people’s bedrooms have a variety of equipment provided to suit their relaxation styles - T.V, CD and DVD players and a Wii for fun and games.

Separate dining rooms for those children and young people who are hyper sensitive to sounds. In addition children and young people are able to use the sensory room, pottery/art room, kitchen and a playroom outside of school hours.

The garden has several areas of interest and stimulation including a sensory garden, patio area, work shed, vegetable and fruit patch, water play area, play equipment, all weather paths, coppice and nature area with a pond and small animal area.

Purpose built school providing classrooms, library / music room, kitchen and dark room.