The Willows is a “can do” school. Everyone is a leader and a learner and has control of their own learning. Everyone can achieve. Everyone is important and has a role to play.
We strive for an atmosphere of mutual respect, where each individual is valued and listened to. Everyone has a voice. We actively promote high self-esteem and confidence for all. Risk taking is encouraged with the security and knowledge that we can learn from success and setback in a supportive environment.
We aim to be an integral part of the local/wider community where a sharing of skills and knowledge is a vital part of lifelong learning.
The Willows provides an exciting, challenging experience for our students and ensures they develop the skills to fulfil their aspirations and exceed their own expectations.
Lower school vision for the future:
The Willows Lower School is a special place full of learning, laughter and friendship and where all children are happy, feel safe and valued.
At The Willows Lower School, we provide the best education in a stimulating environment. The department develops a love of learning inspired by quality teaching, building and developing upon individual strengths and talents. We believe every child is entitled to enjoy his or her childhood. We teach the importance of moral values and provide the foundation for life long skills.
Our vision for the future of our department is to continue to pursue higher standards through a broad and cohesive curriculum with an emphasis on independence and creativity, as it is through these that individuals can take responsibility for their own learning, make informed choices and solve problems.
We believe it is vital to work in partnership with parents and actively encourage them to become involved in the life of the school. We recognise the importance of continuity in the learning process and will share expertise and experience with other schools and settings. Learning is a life long process and it is our responsibility as adults to model effective learning.
Our department will foster an ethos of challenge and high expectation with high self-esteem and respect and understanding of other's cultures and beliefs. We will seek to provide opportunities for experiential and explorative learning, building on what the children already know.
Our children need to develop skills and attitudes that will enable them to learn how to learn, become more socially adept and manage theirs and others feelings and emotions effectively.
Upper school vision for the future:
In the Upper School we continue to build on the excellent foundations laid in the Lower School.
We provide a flexible and varied curriculum that is directly suited to the needs of our students, giving them many opportunities to gain qualifications that reflect their ability.
We also offer a comprehensive options programme that gives our students the chance to take part in a number of vocational subjects, giving them first-hand experience in areas that can help inform future choices.
Alongside our timetabled lessons we also ensure that all students have access to a suitable work experience placement that allows them to see what it is like to be in employment and be part of the world of work. This can be a short-term or extended placement and will be supported, if appropriate.
The students’ time in the Upper School is spent preparing them for a life after The Willows, be that 6th form or college study, and we encourage their independence in number of ways. All students have regular access to the bungalow, taking part in activities that prepare them for running a house effectively. They also undergo appropriate travel training, working on a range of activities from road safety to travelling independently. Life learning is assisted by making use of local services such as the supermarket and leisure facilities.
Our transition programme ensures that our students leave The Willows as successful and independent young adults who understand their role as global citizens in the wider community.
We believe that:
- Each person is unique with particular qualities of personality and character and distinctive strengths and skills.
- It is our responsibility to really understand what motivates each child to learn and to use this information to provide the highest quality educational opportunities, matched to their individual needs and learning styles.
- Each child has a right to reach their maximum potential - emotionally, spiritually, socially, morally, physically, intellectually and aesthetically.
- Effort leads to success.
- Everyone has a right to be listened to and respected, regardless of gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, as well as to learn in a safe, calm, nurturing and purposeful environment.
- We achieve more when we work together co-operatively and in partnership.
- All children have the right to inclusion within The Willows School, the community and society at large.
Therefore we aim to:
- Develop the process of learning and seek to understand it as fully as we can, using a variety of learning styles.
- Provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, including the National Curriculum, which motivates and challenges every student to acquire knowledge, skills and understanding.
- Plan and implement carefully thought out individual programmes that relate to the individual learning and behaviour needs of each pupil and that build on their unique strengths, skills and learning styles.
- Help each pupil to recognise their individual strengths as learners and to understand how to continue to learn successfully and independently.
- Provide an environment for each individual that encourages them to maintain effort and to become a happy, caring and well balanced member of a multi-cultural, multi-faith and diverse community; to develop high self-esteem, a positive personal image and self-control.
- Develop close links with parents and other partners by ensuring positive and clear communications as well as a welcoming and open culture within the school.
- Actively promote a co-operative, mutually respectful approach in all our relationships - with other staff, with pupils, with parents and carers and other partners.
- Establish a few positively phrased rules about behaviour that are consistently applied by all staff.
- Identify and develop opportunities for increased inclusion for all our pupils.
The School Structure
The school is organised into two departments, Lower (from Y3 – Y8) and Upper (from Y9 – Y11). Mr Holmshaw is in charge of Lower School and Miss James is in charge of Upper School.
Within these departments pupils work in classes of 5-14 pupils, more if they are doing something like Performing Arts. They are sometimes withdrawn for even smaller group or individual work, for speech therapy, or for mentoring.
Each class has at least a teacher and a teaching assistant. Sometimes, if for instance a particular child in a class needs one-to-one support, there may be more than one teaching assistant.
In Lower School, especially in primary, lessons tend to be led for much of the time by one teacher, the form teacher. This is because we feel they need that security.
As they grow up we increase the amount of time they are taught by different teachers and move them towards being more independent.
Because we have both primary and secondary classes in one school, we can do this in a more gradual way, so there isn’t the sudden change you get when most pupils move from primary school to secondary school.
Typically, for the first two years classes will have twenty three lessons out of thirty taught by the form teacher. By the time they reach Y7 they will have eleven lessons taught by their form teacher. By Y10 they may have just three lessons taught by their form teacher.