Hillcrest Shifnal School, an independent specialist setting in Shropshire for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, is thrilled to have been granted permission from the Department for Education to extend its provision to support Key Stage 1 (KS1) students from the age of five – previously it catered for students aged 7-19. The new extension reflects a growing demand for early intervention, which has been shown to help students with SEMH needs to realise their potential and significantly increase their chances of re-accessing mainstream education.
Hillcrest Shifnal – run by Hillcrest, part of Outcomes First Group, and rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted in all areas – offers a person-centred approach to education which plays to pupils’ strengths and helps to bring out the best in them. Demand for specialist support is high and the setting draws referrals from local authorities across the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire as well as Shropshire. Rather than focusing on specific year groups, the school offers mixed age learning to ensure that support is matched to each individual’s needs, whilst also enabling older primary students to “mentor” their younger counterparts. Groups are small with high staff to pupil ratios – a maximum of five students to one teacher and support assistant – and the school has developed a bespoke and self-contained area for its new KS1 provision. In addition to specialist teaching support, pupils at Hillcrest Shifnal benefit from the wrap-around support offered by its Multi Disciplinary Clinical Team, which enables their wider therapeutic needs to be met.
Commenting on these latest developments, Head Teacher Amanda Black said, “Our application to extend our offering to younger pupils was prompted by a rise in the number of referrals we receive for students aged five and six, across both day and residential placements, as well as a growing number of local authorities now looking at earlier intervention for young people with SEMH needs. These developments reflect guidance published by the Department for Education – Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools – which highlights the need for early intervention and the importance of access to specialist support when working with students with SEMH needs. Since working with younger students, four have moved back to mainstream schools illustrating the successful outcomes early intervention can bring.
“We are excited to extend our successful Primary Department to offer places for Key Stage 1 students. This will provide a wonderful opportunity to welcome younger pupils into the school and offer earlier intervention and support from our highly skilled staff”.
To learn more about Hillcrest Shifnal School, please visit the website https://www.hillcrestchildrensservices.co.uk/school_home/hillcrest-shifnal-school/ or call 01952 468220.