October 24, 2020

Specialist school unveils new sixth form and plans for future growth

AN INDEPENDENT care and education business plans for further growth after an excellent Estyn inspection.

And Bryn Tirion Hall School has unveiled a new sixth form at its Caergwrle site to meet demand and support vulnerable children with special needs as they prepare for their future careers.

Principal Paddy Prendergast revealed they have recruited six new teachers and learning assistants since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and welcomed five new children in past months.

Having started with one pupil when the organisation was launched in 2008, they begin this academic year with 54, now covering two sites, the most recent of which opened in Bersham, Wrexham, last year.

A period of steady and sustainable growth has been welcomed by parents, carers, local authorities, partner institutions, and Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, which gave them an excellent rating earlier this year.

Paddy was delighted with the outcome and said the spirit of togetherness and strength among the workforce is what enables them to make a real difference to the lives of youngsters who hail from challenging and traumatic backgrounds.

“This is a sector which isn’t really talked about for many reasons, but over the years we have grown and grown and soaked up the issues of children with complex needs, supporting local authorities when they need it most,” he said.

“Together with our staff – who are incredibly resilient and focused – we can provide opportunities for the pupils to break down the barriers to their learning, unlocking success.”

“There are so many unbelievable kids here who have turned things around because our staff have persevered, listened and worked with them, stuck with them and believed in them – that’s when they make progress.”

The dad-of-one added: “We have invested heavily in the new Bersham Road school as it was quite run down when we took it on.

“Most of the children are referred to us by local authorities and come to us from less than an hour away, so as we grow and are held up as a beacon of best practice I can only see more joining us.

“That’s also a big part of the reason why we decided to open up a sixth form at Caergwrle. It gives them that continued support post-16 as they look to study for vocational qualifications, continue their work experience and even progress onto A Levels, preparing them for their next steps in a familiar and supportive environment.

“We don’t want them to be lost to education and the possibility of a career because they’re not ready to leave or given the help they need. We tailor the education and care to each child, it’s not one size fits all.

“It’s a privileged position to be in, doing something we love and pushing boundaries, scrutinising and changing perceptions of what is a largely forgotten section of the education landscape.”

Estyn inspectors found that staff work together effectively to promote an exceptionally caring and inclusive ethos that successfully meets the needs of the pupils.

The report added: “They share a strong commitment to improving the life chances of all pupils and work closely with the school’s therapy and psychology team to reflect carefully on their own practice and ensure that their knowledge of individual pupils’ needs is informed by an up-to-date understanding of trauma-informed practice.

“As a result of the school’s carefully co-ordinated approach to the curriculum and the high quality of care, support and guidance they receive, most pupils make strong progress in their learning, wellbeing and independence.”

Career and Work-Related Education Manager Sarah Gaffney said the findings reinforce the foundations laid by the leadership team over the last decade.

“The organisation has grown but never lost its focus and commitment to the pupils and positive outcomes for them,” she said.

“To receive such a positive response from Estyn is terrific and gives us the confidence to continue working with our partners and the community to change the lives of these amazing young people.”

For more information, visit www.qewc.co.uk or follow them on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/BrynTirionSchool/