Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, contact us today and we will be glad to help.

What is the process for getting a place at the school?

If a parent/carer feels The Orchard is an appropriate provision for their child, they should contact their EHCP co-ordinator to inform them. The EHCP co-ordinator will then consult with The Orchard. Every referral will be reviewed and considered independently by the school’s Senior Management Team, which includes the school’s designated SENCo. This process is to ascertain if the school can meet the needs of the learner before confirming if a placement can be offered and will be in line with the statutory 15-day consultation period.

Does my child need and Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to attend the school?

Yes. However, learners who are identified as having additional needs but do not yet have an EHCP, will need to undergo the Education, Health and Care Assessment Request (ECHAR) process. If capacity allows, The Orchard may support local authorities, families, and learners in gaining an EHCP by offering a short-term placement whilst all assessments are completed. If, following assessment, a learner is given an EHCP, admission will be considered to the Orchard School in line with our Admissions Policy.

How are children and young people supported at the school?

All learners have an Emotional Support Plan (ESP) which outlines their individual needs and challenges, how staff can support them, and the learner’s goals for the future. Learners update their ESP termly with support from a trusted staff member to ensure the information is accurate and relevant.

“Theraplay” informed practice is embedded throughout the school. “Theraplay” informed practice provides a range of ‘up and down regulating activities’ to support learner’s emotions throughout the day. This ensures they are in a regulated state to successfully access learning.

At The Orchard, we pride ourselves on providing education that is engaging and innovative. Through a varied and differentiated curriculum we aim to teach learners how to grow into positive, responsible young people who are able to have a positive impact in their local community and successfully transition into further education, employment, volunteering and adulthood.

What type of provision is available at the school?

The Orchard works with learners aged between 11 and 16 who have special educational needs mainly within the areas of Social and Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) and communication difficulties However, we can also support learners with a wide range of needs falling within the broad categories of Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Physical and Sensory and SEMH. We offer a range of academic and vocational qualifications and subjects to our learners. We also pride ourselves on the wide range of educational visits and trips which underpin our learners’ educational experiences at the school

What training do school staff have?

Our staff are highly trained in all areas of Special Educational Needs, from Social Emotional and Mental Health to Autism Spectrum Disorder. We also offer a range of training and mentoring opportunities which give our staff all the tools they need to inspire and support all learners to fulfil their potential.

How will my child be assessed and monitored?

The Orchard assesses all learners in the areas of communication, education and social skills development. We believe these are the foundations for lifelong success, and enable our learners  to  thrive in school and beyond.

Each year an Annual SEN Review is held, which both the parents/carers and SENCo are invited to, as well as any other key professionals. At this Annual Review meeting, the progress of the learner is discussed together with any further support requirements which may need to be put in place. There is also an EHCP Review meeting that takes place as part of the Annual Review, at every key-stage transition period.

How will my child be included in discussions about their learning and development?

Learners are invited to attend their Annual SEN Review meeting so they are able to be involved in discussions about their learning and development and to provide their own feedback on their education and progress.

How will I know how my child is doing? How will I be included in planning for my child’s education?

We believe that effective communication with parents and carers is of the utmost importance. Parents and carers are fully involved throughout their child’s time with us, from the induction process and beyond.  We believe you know your child best and your views and support are key to a positive transition into, and journey through our school.

We communicate regularly with parents and carers, including weekly check-in calls with teachers and/or the Senior Leadership Team, and half termly reports to keep you fully involved in your child’s education. We operate an ‘open door policy’ and parents and carers are welcome to visit the school at any time.

Who can I contact for further information about my child at school or for further information?

Should you have any questions regarding your child, telephone the school using the site specific contact details on our contact page, and our reception team will direct you to the relevant member of staff. If you would like further information about the school, you can telephone or email, or submit an enquiry using our website contact form.

How will you help me support my child at home and in the community?

The school employs a full-time welfare officer who supports our children and families. Support is available on a daily, weekly or ad hoc basis. Contact us for further information or if you are in need of support.

How will the school prepare and support my child to join the school, transfer to a new school or their next stage of education?

The Orchard has a robust induction process which is personally designed to meet the individual needs of each learner.

This process is underpinned by following a structured, academic, social and pastoral initial assessment process. During this process, we capture the views of learners and their families, and create a bespoke and personalised learning plan before learners join us. Our skilled and nurturing staff team support learners, both educationally, and emotionally throughout transition and beyond.

The school prides itself on its careers programme and has excellent ‘positive destination’ data which demonstrates its success in this area.

Throughout their Key Stage 4, learners are provided with ample opportunities to experience different career options, including our work experience programme delivered through Care Plus.

Learners have access to careers advisors and will also learn how to write job applications and practice interview techniques. We also support learners to  liaise with Post 16 Colleges to ensure they are matched with the most suitable courses when they take their next steps in education.

Through delivery of our Careers and Independent Advice and Guidance (IAG) programmes, we equip every learner with the foundations, education, qualifications, skills, and opportunities needed for lifelong success.

Who do we speak to if we have a concern or complaint about the school?

We welcome an open dialogue with parents/carers and hope we can resolve any issues that arise as quickly as possible. If you have any concerns or are not happy with any aspect of the school, then please request an informal meeting with a member of school staff or the Executive  Principal. If this does not resolve your concern, then please refer to our Complaints Procedure which explains how parents/carers can lodge a formal complaint. Our Complaints Procedure is available from the school office and can be viewed on the Policies page of this website.