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Teaching and Learning
Ashgate School is a maintained Specialist Support Primary School. We cater for 144 pupils with complex learning needs including:  Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, (PMLD), Severe Learning Disabilties (SLD) and Autism.

Our school motto is “Exploring, Discovering, Achieving”.

We aim high for all our children and teaching and learning strategies are matched to meet their individual needs and learning style.

The children are grouped according to their individual needs, age and cognitive ability.

Every child is supported through:

  • A differentiated National Curriculum matched to the child’s starting point and planned to challenge them to reach their next steps. Skills and knowledge are taught through a variety of activities that are purposeful and enjoyable and ensure a breadth of topics is covered over the years.
  • An Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is used to identify the individual ‘barriers to learning’ and communicates strategies which support the child and enable them to develop key skills. IEP targets and strategies are practised daily and the child’s progress is closely monitored. IEPs are discussed with parents/carers and other relevant professionals at the Annual Review meeting. We support parents with developing strategies which they may find useful at home to ensure the children receive a consistent approach and learn to generalise their skills and knowledge in different settings.

  • A high staff to pupil ratio of qualified staff who are experienced in teaching children with SEN. Typically each class has between 7 to 12 pupils and a Teacher and two or more Teaching Assistants. All staff continue with their professional development and are trained in appropriate and effective teaching strategies in line with professional standards. We ensure that all staff renew training in accordance with statutory guidance.

  • A Total Communication Approach. Communication is supported according to the child’s needs; this may include Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), signing, on-body signing, visual aids and electronic communication aids. We have two Speech and Language Therapists (SALT) who assess children’s needs and devise appropriate SALT programmes for staff to implement.

  • An appropriate environment created to suit the style of learning and which encourages and supports children to access learning whether through stimulation and sensory input or low distraction to enable concentration and security of routine.

  • Access to extra-curricular activities. In school we have a Hydrotherapy Pool, Soft play room, Sensory rooms, Nurture room, Group / cookery room, Rebound therapy, on site outdoor learning experiences including Forest School approach, sensory gardens and therapeutic gardening.

    The children visit many venues outside of school to enable learning in different environments and provide an opportunity for them to generalise their skills and knowledge in other settings and develop social skills:  donkeys, swimming, bikes, a residential visit to Ghyll Head Outdoor Centre in the Lake District for year 6 pupils, local library, café, shops, sensory and soft play centres, museums and galleries.

    Visiting therapists and coaches provide a variety of activities in school: sports coaches, Boccia, curling, cheerleading and art and drama therapy.

  • Partner working. We liaise closely with our partners in Health and Children’s services to deliver a team around the child approach. We work with a wide range of professionals including: physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, nurses, paediatricians, orthoptists, dentists, statutory assessment officers, respite care providers, short breaks and parent partnership.

  • We offer Outreach Support to 52 Schools.

    In April 2013 Ofsted reported:


Pupils make good progress given their age and starting point.


They make good progress in developing reading, writing and communication skills, and in mathematics.


Pupils make exceptional progress in their social development and in becoming more independent.


Most lessons are of good or outstanding quality. Teaching assistants provide very valuable support.


Pupils make outstanding progress in their behaviour. They try really hard and have excellent attitudes to learning.


Staff care for pupils very well. Pupils feel very safe at school.


The school is well led by the Headteacher, deputy Headteacher and assistant Headteachers. They are supported very well by the whole staff team, and by governors to continually improve the school.


The curriculum is good and rightly places an emphasis on communication, literacy and mathematics, as well as pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.


Parents are very pleased with the school and would recommend it to others.


Communication with Parents

  • At Ashgate School communication with parents and carers is extremely important to us. We offer an open door policy and encourage parents to contact us on an ongoing basis either by telephone, email or through a face to face meeting. Members of staff from class are available to talk outside of teaching hours or an appointment can be made for a mutually convenient time.

  • Some classes give their pupils a Home School Diary so that school staff and parents can share information, pass on messages and update each other.

  • A termly newsletter is sent home to parents, celebrating activities that the children have taken part. It is also an opportunity for us to provide important information, send reminders and look forward to future events.

  • School reports are sent home to parents in July of the Summer Term, detailing the children’s learning and WOW moments which have taken place over the year. The Annual Review Report is sent home prior the meeting, at which parents and staff can discuss any changes which they feel need making to the child’s Statement.  

  • The children’s progress and achievements are celebrated at the Autumn Term Parents’ Evening, which is an opportunity to speak to the class teacher and look at their child’s My School Life at Ashgate File.

  • School has a useful website which provides access to a range of school information including class newsletters. Here parents can find out about what their child will be learning about that term and find out about any up and coming trips or different activities.

  • Parents are invited to share in the special occasions of their children, including the Christmas Concert, Year 6 Leavers’ Assembly, End of Year and Friday Achievement Assemblies.

  • Group call texts are sent to parents as a reminder and another way of quickly sharing information.

     Help for families

  • Parents are welcome to contact school in relation to any support or advice they may need. Our Parent Support Advisor offers individual specific support when requested. She is able to signpost families to appropriate agencies, including Short Breaks, as well as helping with transport forms and Disability Living Allowance (DLA), as well as attending all Annual Reviews.

  • Our supportive Parents and Carers Group meets on a Thursday morning to share experiences with each other and also focus on key topics such as behaviour, communication, diet or sleep.

  • Riding the Rapids – a course which is specifically designed for children with additional needs is run once a year and delivered by the Children’s Psychology Services (formally CAMHS) and our Parent Support Advisor.

  • We have a parents’ information area where leaflets are freely available. This includes advice in regards to Parent Partnership, Disability Sports in Manchester, school meals, behaviour, attendance, diet and Autism, to name a few.

  • The school works very closely with children’s families and social care, to ensure that any additional support is accessed and; the close relationship between our school nurse and our families is vital in accessing the services of from multi-agency professionals, such as CAMHS.

    Transition to high school

  • Transition to high school can seem daunting for both our pupils and their families. At Ashgate, we work closely with our link secondary schools to share information and plan individualised transitions for our pupils. Parents’ views play an important part of the transition process and by working together, we aim for the children to confidently and successfully move on with the next stage of their education.

  • The process of transitioning to high school starts at the Year 5 Annual Review, with parents / carers meeting with a member of staff from the potential secondary school.

  • Parents are given the opportunity to visit secondary schools, before making the choice about where they would like their child to attend.

  • PSHE sessions prepare the children for change and we encourage the children to develop their independence skills where possible, as well as taking on appropriate classroom responsibilities.

  • Individualised transition programmes are planned by our Year 6 Transition Co-ordinator, the Secondary School, parents, class teachers, and the pupils. Visits to the secondary school are supported by members of Ashgate staff as well as any specialist resources, visual timetables, rewards charts and social stories.

    Working Together
    Members of staff and parents work together closely to develop our school and ensure that the children are happy, healthy and achieving. A questionnaire is sent out to parents and carers prior to the Annual Review which enables them to give feedback on the school and raise any support which they may need.

    Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are shared with parents on a termly basis and they are encouraged to discuss specific targets with teachers.

    Our Parents’ Group has raised money for the school which has been spent on funding part of the Year 6 residential trip to Ghyll Head, as well as cheerleading outfits and equipment for the outdoor play. They also helped our Parent Support Partner and school staff with the running of the Summer Barbeque which allows parents to meet up and socialise with their children.

    Ashgate works with a range of professionals:

  • Two Speech and Language Therapists are based at school for one day a week. They work with our children, write programmes and suggest strategies and share ideas with class staff. The Therapists are available to talk to parents on request about their child’s progress and offer advice for strategies which can be used at home.

  • School works closely with the physiotherapists who support with appropriate equipment, hydrotherapy sessions and moving and handling programmes.

  • Pupil Premium money has been used in part to fund an Art Therapist, who works with children in school for one day a week.

  • Our Occupational Therapist comes into school for half a day a week, focussing on the children’s sensory needs.

    OFSTED comments

    “The school is understandably held in very high regard by parents. One parent spoke to inspectors about the school’s ‘open-door’ attitude and that staff were always there to help, always had time to speak and were unfailingly positive.”

    “There are effective links with parents and they feel their views are valued highly. The annual reviews of pupils’ statements of special educational needs provide an opportunity for parents to provide feedback on the child’s education and to rate the school overall. This feedback is very positive”

    Keeping our children safe
    Risk assessments.

    Planned and appropriate Risk Assessments are in place where necessary:

    Individual Risk Assessments for pupils may form part of their Health Care Plan, Moving and Handling or Individual Behaviour Plan.

    Risk Assessments are undertaken for all outdoor educational visits and for any activity in school where there is increased risk; e.g. hydrotherapy pool, visit to Ghyll Head, Rebound therapy, cooking.

    Staff are trained in order to manage activities and visits and maintain safety e.g. pool evacuation Training, MIDAS Mini bus driving training and ensuring we have sufficient members of staff trained in First Aid.

    Systems are in place to maintain safe practice,.

    We have an internal alarm system to notify the school nurse and the main office if anybody needs assistance. Our fire alarm and fire prevention systems and materials are of the highest standard as certified by the Fire Service.

    Arrival and departure
    The majority of our pupils travel to and from school using home to school transport or with their parents. We have designated parking for the transport service buses and have created as much space as possible within the main car park for parents and carers to park. The arrangements are monitored by school and transport management staff.

    Attendance is recorded in accordance with statutory regulations. We call parents and carers to ascertain whereabouts and reasons for pupils who are absent. We log all children, staff and visitors who come in and out of school during the day.

    Breaks and lunchtimes
    Children are supervised by Teachers, Teaching Assistants and lunchtime organisers at break and lunchtime. We ensure safe staffing levels are maintained throughout the day. Many of our lunchtime organisers do additional hours in school to maintain levels and provide additional support where necessary e.g. on visits. We have volunteers assisting where necessary e.g. as spotters during rebound therapy. In accordance with statutory guidance all staff are checked against the Disclosure and Barring Service checklist to ensure they are safe to work with children.

    Safeguarding at all levels is a high priority, our Designated Safeguarding officer is the Deputy Headteacher supported by the Headteacher, school nurse and parent Support Advisor. We have a whistleblowing policy. No mobile phones are allowed to be used in school by staff or visitors outside of staff only areas. We have a strict firewall as part of our in school internet access. We take pro-active steps to prevent bullying. Anti-bullying measures and practices form part of our Behaviour policy. We teach children during Personal Social and Health Education, (PSHE) lessons how to respect each other and what to do if somebody feels they are being bullied. Any incidents of bullying are dealt with promptly and in liaison with parents and carers.

    In our Ofsted inspection of April 2013, Behaviour and Safety was judged as Outstanding: ‘Staff care for pupils very well. Pupils feel very safe at school.’

    Annual Reviews
    Annual Reviews are held in the first 6 months of a Statement or Education and Health Care Plan being issued and annually thereafter.

    Parents / carers and all partners who are currently part of the team of professionals working with the child are invited to provide reports and to attend the meeting.

    The class teacher will review the Statement or Education and Health Care Plan and recommend any necessary changes in accordance with progress made or further support required due to any changes in circumstances.

    Parents / carers are asked to complete a parental report form; this provides the opportunity to present their views on progress, request agenda items for discussion and provide feedback.

    We celebrate progress and achievements made by the child during the year, sharing experiences with the family and where appropriate the child may join the meeting. IEP targets are reviewed and new targets shared. The objectives for the Statement or Education and Health Care Plan are amended to ensure needs are appropriately met for the following year.

    The statement or Education and Health Care Plan is sent to the Statutory Assessment office for updating and any actions are recorded and communicated to relevant parties.

    The annual review dates and times are set at the beginning of the year and communicated to parents / carers; we accommodate changes where dates are not suitable. Year 5 pupil reviews take place in the spring term so that we can ensure Statement or Education and Health Care Plans are accurate and up to date to be sent to High Schools for consultation. This review will include a focus on High School provision and is an opportunity for parents and carers to gain sufficient information to make choices and understand procedures in readiness for year 6.

    Year 6 Annual reviews take place in the Autumn term of year 6. This allows time to finalise plans and clarify any issues before the February deadline of naming the High school on the child’s Statement or Education and Health Care Plan. It provides an early opportunity for parents and carers of pupils who come to Specialist Education in Year 6 to ensure plans for High School are in place.

    This process facilitates positive transition procedures and experiences for children and their families.

    Extra-curricular activities:
    A summer 2 week play scheme organised through Short breaks and staffed by school staff who are familiar with the children.

    A residential visit to Ghyll Head Outdoor Centre in the Lake District for year 6 pupils

    Enrichment activities: Children join children from other classes and engage in activities such as cookery, sports activities, art and music and outdoor activities.

    Our Parent Support group and PSA organise fundraising activities throughout the year including school fairs, fun afternoons and event evenings.

    The children visits many venues outside of school: donkeys, swimming, bikes, local library, cafés and restaurants, shops, sensory and soft play centres, Manchester Airport, museums and galleries.

    Each class enjoys Educational visits linked to Topics and reward / celebration visits during Winter Festival Season and Summer.

    Children take part in competitions after school in cheerleading, Boccia and Curling.

    We work in partnership with Central Manchester Foundation Trust (CMFT) to support the clinical and medical needs of our children.

    We have a Paediatrician and school nurse allocated to our pupils. The paediatrician and nurse hold clinics for children in school with their families. Other Health professionals contribute to the holistic care of our children according to their needs, professionals visit school to assess and treat children and offer advice to families and educational staff.

    Health colleagues provide reports for reviews and liaise closely with school and families.

    Our resident registered nurse provides:

  • Medical support to pupils including administering treatment / medication as appropriate;

  • Individual care plans which detail routine care requirements and responses to emergency situations;

  • a range of health related training for staff where appropriate;

  • partnership working supporting the safeguarding of children and supporting families through the Manchester Common Assessment Framework (MCAF)

    Our Administering Medicines and the Management of Pupils with Medical Needs in School Policy sets out formal systems and procedures.

    Staff receive training as appropriate to their role in Safeguarding, Frist-Aid, resuscitation, pool evacuation, epilepsy awareness, moving and handling, de-escalation strategies and safe physical intervention, Sensory, Visual and Hearing Impairment and feeding and swallowing.

    We have a Health and Safety representative staff member and Governor. We train staff in best practice for Personal Care Assistance and Infection Control in accordance with our policies on Intimate Care, Health and Safety and Safeguarding. We encourage Healthy lifestyles and choices for pupils and staff. Manchester Fayre provide school dinners, the menus are compiled by a nutritionist to ensure a healthy balanced diet over the week. We encourage children and staff to partake in physical activities as appropriate to their abilities and maintain good health. We hold the Healthy Schools Award and have a Staff Well Being Group.

Ashgate Specialist Support School, Crossacres Rd, Wythenshawe, Manchester M22 5DR

Main Contact: Lisa ThompsonTel: 0161 359 5322Email:

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