Sir Peter Hall School will be an 80-place special school for boys and girls in the age range 9 – 16 with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) issues and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Located in Bury St Edmunds, the school will be run by Unity Schools Partnership and will be based on a mainstream model of education with an SEMH/ASD specialism.
The SEMH description applies to provision for children who are unable to access education because of their extreme reactions to everyday situations which can result in inappropriate behaviour or an inability to participate in the usual range of education activities that would be offered in a mainstream school even with specific and additional support to do so. Children attending this provision may have the cognitive ability to access mainstream education but do not have the appropriate skills to do so. They could have this need because of experiences in their early life, a lack of understanding or ability to act appropriately in group situations or a need for specific therapeutic support to enable this. The child may have a range of needs within which SEMH will be the most significant.
We include pupils who may also be diagnosed with autism. These children may exhibit or experience similarly dysregulated behaviour and/or response to social situations and their needs in this area will be rooted in their neurological diversity. Careful consideration will be given to the class groupings and educational needs of these children so that they, too, can have all their holistic needs met by a well-trained staff group and by policies and practices that have understanding of the needs of autistic children at their heart.
In January 2019 Suffolk County Council (SCC) agreed a new framework for the development of its specialist provision. This framework describes a pathway of specialist provision for each of the four main profiles of need identified within the SEND Code of Practice 2014. This new school will fit within the Social, Emotional and Mental Health Pathway of specialism. Within this pathway there will be a continuum of provision to reflect a graduated response starting with mainstream placements supported by SCC’s specialist outreach service CISS. The pathway includes new specialist units in mainstream schools for children with more complex needs, from which it is expected that most children will reintegrate back into mainstream when appropriate, and for the pupils with the most complex needs ensures a local special school offer. Currently there is no specialist provision to meet the need for pupils with the most complex SEMH needs within the West Suffolk area. A new SEMH school for pupils in the Bury St Edmunds area will enable local students to be taught in specialist provision appropriate to their needs close to their home.
The overarching vision for the school is to provide individualised support for all students and prepare them to become successful independent adults who make a positive contribution to their community, being valuable members of a better society, with an educational experience to look back on with enjoyment and pride.
The Trust believes that an ambitious, well-planned curriculum is essential for not only achieving successful academic outcomes but also in effectively meeting the social, emotional and mental health needs of their learners. The curriculum will follow the best blend of National Curriculum for high academic aspiration and therapeutic intervention to support pupils with their personal and social development.
The school will forge strong referral and working links with a range of multi-agencies such as mental health services and educational psychology to ensure a holistic approach is taken to meeting each child’s needs.