Vision and Aims
Marchbank Free School is unique in its approach as it effectively ‘marries’ two very different approaches to education.
Children with SEMH respond well to structure as it helps them to feel safe and secure – they like predictable routines and respond well when they feel confident that they know what is going to happen next. However, Rudolph Steiner believed-
"Our highest endeavour must be to develop creative and responsible human beings who are able to deal with diverse situations and to direct their lives with purpose.”
Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Steiner-Waldorf Curriculum
The Steiner approach is respected worldwide for its ability to produce very able young people who have a strong sense of self and diverse capacities that enable them to become socially and economically responsible citizens. Marchbank Free School understands that children with SEMH also respond well to learning in a practical and artistic manner and would therefore benefit from much of the Steiner approach. They develop a love of reading through listening to stories, taking part in drama and learning rhymes and traditional fairy tales and legends. They are encouraged to use their imaginations through a pictorial and artistic approach to subjects. They engage in practical activities combining traditional games, handcrafts and manual skills with formal learning across each curriculum area.
We therefore gradually, and through a carefully planned development, merge the creativity, pictorial and artistic elements of the Steiner approach with a highly structured approach to learning literacy and numeracy skills to create an innovative, exciting and creative environment which will ‘educate a child’s mind, heart and hands’, ‘The Child, The family, The Outside World – Winnicott’.
It is common for children with SEMH to underperform in achieving expected developmental stages when compared to their mainstream peers. There are numerous reasons that may have been factors but consistent evidence suggests their experiences of emotional damage or turmoil may have restricted them from securing expected milestones. The Marchbank environment and curriculum allows children to revisit those development areas that have not been secured and offers them the experiences necessary to move through the stages which are so important in building the foundations necessary for future development and learning. Marchbank believes that learning comes easily when it is offered to a child that is developmentally ready.
Our vision is to provide an environment where primary children with SEMH can access an education that aims to develop the whole child in a healthy and balanced manner addressing their physical, emotional and intellectual capabilities through a developmentally appropriate curriculum.
At Marchbank we celebrate our values and incorporate them into our everyday life.
- HARD WORK
Throughout their time in Marchbank children are supported in developing these values through their taught curriculum and through the way people treat them and they are expected to behave. All adult members of Marchbank provide positive role models of these values at all times.
The ethos, environment and curriculum combines to help them develop qualities which are crucial to enable them to be successful adults; to be articulate, creative, self-reliant, skilled at listening, imaginative and inquisitive.
With a deep understanding of child development, a broad curriculum and creative methodology, we place the changing needs of the individual child at the centre of our work.
We afford equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each child with a curriculum that is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of their development.
Our aim is to equip children with the skills they need to access secondary education where they will continue to develop and leave full time education as well rounded human beings who are resourceful, creative, responsible and curious with the skills necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century and with the problem solving skills required for a sustainable future.
Marchbank School has:
- A strong and distinctive sense of purpose
- The capacity and willingness to innovate
- A powerful collective ethos that is shared by all staff
- High quality planning that is financially sound
- A stubborn refusal to allow the socio-economic background of children to become an obstacle to progress
At Marchbank School we:
- Offer parents/carers an element of choice about the kind of school their primary child with SEN can attend.
- Engage individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds in the school’s development by inviting them to engage in the governance of the school.
- Continue to engage with and keep abreast of innovative approaches to education in the changing landscape whilst maintaining careful evaluation of children’s progress.
- Boost academic success by developing reading and writing skills. The teaching of literacy; speaking and listening, reading and writing combines a structured phonic approach, a varied amount of multi-sensory strategies, and an abundance of rhymes, stories, and drama to engender a love of reading as well as enable the children to become independent readers themselves.
- Strengthen children’s social skills and appropriate play skills (turn taking, waiting, asking, sharing, helping, complimenting).
- Promote children’s use of self-control strategies such as effective problem solving.
- Increase emotional awareness in children by labelling feelings, recognising the differing views of themselves and others.
- Provide a pictorial and artistic approach to all subjects to involve the whole child, not just the intellect, in learning.
- Use an approach that fosters greater concentration and involvement from the children and stimulates deeper and wider interest in subjects.
- Celebrate excellence through appreciation of an individual’s best work and recognition of a child’s contribution to the school community.
- Teach children how to manage their emotions so they are able to develop the skills they need to deal with frustration, anger or conflict in a restorative manner, acknowledging their feelings but also the feelings of other people who are involved and identifying ways of repairing any damage to relationships.
- Build positive links with other local schools where children may continue their secondary education and where they can be valued for their high levels of maturity and motivation.
Marchbank School has responsibility to the wider community and demonstrates:
- A willingness to be inclusive
- An offer of extended schooling by making a variety of after school activities available
- A strong sense of partnership with children, their parents/carers and the community
- An appreciation that ‘education’ is about more than just schooling
- An active involvement with other schools and the wider learning community
- A close relationship with EVAT to take advantage of the wide range of knowledge and expertise it offers and for children, their families and staff to benefit from the wide range of resources offered.
- That they employ staff who are highly skilled and have a desire to work in this exciting field of special education. They are child centred, have had training in child development and have an understanding of the difficulties some children with statements or EHCP’s for SEMH may experience.
- A staff team that are trained to a high level with annual appraisal targets which aid their future development and develop their experience and skills to ensure they deliver the highest level of education. Staff are encouraged to take advantage of the extensive CPD programme within EVAT where they access a variety of training opportunities within the wider EVAT staff peer group. All staff access training where possible that is specific to this specialist field of education through Marchbank’s membership with National organisations such as SEBDA and Engage.
- The capacity to offer support, training and coordination of events in SEMH to staff from other schools, a variety of professional bodies from health, social care and education, parents/carers and other associated professionals seeking information, guidance or support. As Marchbank grows into its mature state there is a clear ambition to develop the ability to create further centres of excellence and to lead on policy and practice development in the education of primary aged children with SEMH.
- An intention to develop close working relationships with partner services to meet the whole needs of the individual child which includes that relationship with Future Steps Occupational Therapy so that children with sensory or motor skills issues can receive high quality therapy by trained OT’s and staff in the classrooms can support this area of development.