Alternative education provision opens in Harlow

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Alternative education provision opens in Harlow
Posted on: Nov 26th 2019

Children needing extra support with their social skills or emotional health are starting to benefit from a new alternative education provision.

BMAT is working closely with Essex County Council to offer primary aged pupils in Harlow, who are at risk of being permanently excluded from school, a lifeline.

The Grow Provision opened within the grounds of Cooks Spinney Primary Academy in September and has already started working with four young children.

Those who have supported the building and opening of the provision came together for a celebration event.

Katie Wood, provision manager, said: “The Grow Provision is aimed at children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and is an early intervention setting to support children in EYFS and KS1 who are being excluded or at risk of exclusion, possibly due to trauma or attachment needs.

“The aim is to teach social skills, learning behaviours, a growth mindset and self-regulation strategies through a positive, nurturing approach and emotional coaching and feedback, so they can reintegrate successfully into their mainstream schools.

“We also build their self-esteem and confidence, so they can be successful in mainstream.”

Pupils are given a bespoke, themed curriculum focusing on accelerating maths and literacy skills and outdoor and active learning, as well as a programme of interventions, including counselling and the zones of regulation programme.

Children learn about consequences of their actions and how to restore and repair situations. They are taught about how the brain works and encouraged to earn leaves for 13 Helpful Behaviours which lead to rewards.

Pupils remain the responsibility of their home school, with collaboration between them and the alternative provision for the good of the young person and their future.

They stay at Grow for two terms - with representatives from their home school visiting at least twice a week and the pupil spending one afternoon a week at their home school - before being reintegrated into their mainstream school full-time.

Miss Wood said: “It’s about working very closely with their schools and parents. Our families and schools have been so engaged with us and that teamwork is happening. We share BMAT’s principles of high expectations for all children and feel lucky to be part of the Trust. It is very exciting.”

Details such as underfloor heating to enable children to stay barefoot rather than feel the frustration of socks or shoes, plus rocking chairs in each room to soothe anxious children, were celebrated at the event.

Councillor Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, attended the opening ceremony and said: “This is a brilliant facility. There is such a growing need for this kind of set-up.

“Hopefully, this will give children a much better start in life. We need them to get back into mainstream school and to enjoy their time there. Unless we do this, the rest of their time at school and the rest of their lives will be affected.”

To secure one of the small number of places at Grow, cases are heard by a panel of local headteachers who decide who is accepted.

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