A message from the Headteacher....
As I write this update in November 2018 I am reminded that I’m just about to enter my 25th year at Ravenscliffe! In that time an awful lot has happened, most of it has been positive I hope.
Year on year our numbers of students on roll have risen to a new record of 181 (September 2018) and to mitigate for that we have actively pushed and promoted the need for for a new off site sixth form. Thankfully this Ravenscliffe@SpringHall facility opened in September 2018 and has helped to lift some of the pressure the school has managed on the Skircoat Green for over 2 decades as it has faced a consistent year on year rise in student numbers on roll.
The school and it’s community raised over £1.8M in the 4 years since 2014, to make SpringHall become a reality.
One thing that I hope hasn’t changed in the last 24 years, is the recognition across all designated staff teams at Ravenscliffe that we must always put the needs of our students first and work hard to ensure these needs continue to be met by a team of hard working, well trained, dedicated and enthusiastic staff. In late 2018 I can honestly say that we are still working as hard as ever to maintain that objective.
The majority of our students transfer from one of Calderdale's two primary special schools; Highbury at Rastrick, and Woodbank at Luddendenfoot. However, in more recent years an increasing additional number have transferred from mainstream schools or from other schools outside the authority to take advantage of the bespoke curriculum and personalised learning programmes which Ravenscliffe offers.
The curriculum is delivered by a team of well qualified teachers and support staff, to class sizes where favourable staff/student ratios are maintained.
The organisation of the school still reflects that of a mainstream secondary where students are predominantly taught in chronological year groups with all relevant national curriculum subjects being offered.
The school day starts with ‘Focus’, a 30-45 minute slot where individual priorities taken from a student’s most recent Education Health Care Plan receive daily attention and where we try to ensure every student starts their day in Ravenscliffe well.
The school also operates specialised needs based ‘Core Groups’, in which students focus on the development of a range of skills from non-verbal and verbal functional communication, to reading, writing, comprehension, and numeracy. These extend into needs based literacy, numeracy and computing sessions usually within key stage groupings. Over a fifth of the school day is used to focus on developing these essential core skills, with delivery very much tailored to meeting each student’s specialist needs.
Great emphasis is placed on students becoming involved in the community, using and visiting local shops and places of interest and developing independence skills by using public transport with appropriate levels of support from staff.
Inclusion opportunities are actively promoted and supported. Some students may spend time working collaboratively with mainstream peers, or attend sessions at other local schools or colleges.
The school’s “Springboard” employability programme provides students with vocational based experience and opportunities with appropriate levels of staff support during extended weekly work based placements. Developing student independence in travel opens up the world of work as a real possibility for some. Each year, we usually support between 2 and 5 school leavers, at the age of 19, into paid employment.
Consequently, we always seek to exploit natural opportunities for students to learn to travel. This includes using public transport to travel to Halifax Swimming Pool, and other local amenities or the Yellow Bus to travel to and from school. Using this model, over 100 students have now moved to full independence in their travel across Calderdale over the last 10 years, since our travel training programme was introduced.
We now work with over 40 local employers to offer relevant and meaningful work placements for our students. Over 50 of our young people access a work placement on a weekly basis, with the travel to work being a key component. Many of our students now work completely independently in their work placement. We see this as a vital step on the ladder towards paid employment.
We see our students as partners in their own education. So whether they are aged 11 and new to the school, or 19 and about to enter the adult world, we want to equip them with the skills that employers and society prioritise. Most importantly we want to support our students to become confident and content young adults, who can maximise their own self development of their own levels of personal independence within the challenges of managing the additional needs they all have.
Of course not every student is able to progress to full independence in their travel or in the workplace. Equally high priority is given to students who need support to gain earlier skills in communication and independence. If a student requires 1:1 support, we will always endeavour to provide it.
Ultimately, we encourage all students, their families, and school staff to remember that a typical student joining us at 11 years of age and leaving at 19 has just 10,000 hours of learning at Ravenscliffe. We aim to maximise those hours to the full, and to support our young people to become as independent as possible.
Fundamentally, we aim to help all students to achieve within their own means, and to be the best they can.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the staff team, if you require more information.
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