Blossom House – Learning For Life
Blossom House is our residential provision. It comprises of 3 suites. Sunflower, Poppy and Bluebell suite. Catering for 15 weekly boarders between the ages of 8-19 years of age.
Our team are experienced, dedicated professionals who work to provide consistency and continuity for each individual, enabling them to meet their educational, social, health and emotional/behavioural needs in order to reach their full potential.
The team work closely with class teams, to be able to provide a 24 hour curriculum enabling our young people to develop their communication, independence and social skills – to become happy and confident individuals.
Blossom House link with class teams to via Evidence 4 Learning to set targets and record achievement and progress during young persons time in the provision.
The Blossom House team work closely with the families of our young people, we find this is essential in meeting all of the needs of the individual.
We work with other professionals such as Speech & Language, Physiotherapists, Paediatricians, Psychologists and Social Services to ensure a trans- disciplinary approach
Meet the Team:
Each evening a variety of activities are on offer for the children and young people. We have a wide range of venues and facilities available to use both within school, the local community and the wider area. After school activities are encouraged. The activities on offer are varied and where possible the pupils choose what they would like to do. Age, ability and weather are considered when arranging the evening activities. All activities are based around the young people and their needs, promoting the development of skills.
All evening activities are risk assessed by the member of staff organising that outing.
Activities within School:
Sensory room:- We have a fabulous new sensory room that provides both a relaxing/calming and multi sensory experience. The sensory room provides a myriad of benefits for the children/young people, encouraging hand and eye coordination, and the development of social and language skills, a chance to unwind, learn about shapes, colours, textures etc…
The equipment allows for an ever changing sensory environment, without being over stimulating. The relaxed atmosphere helps the individual to bond with other members of the group, it may provide an environment that encourages the individual to open up and explore any emotional issues they have.
Messy/Art & Crafts:- Messy play is always a popular choice for an evening activity. Blossom House now has a messy play room stocked with ingredients and equipment to make a variety of fun and sensory types of messy play ranging from lentils and pasta to rainbow/cloud foam and aqua beads. Messy play allows the young people to experience and explore a wide variety of materials, textures and smells in a safe environment. Messy play equipment can also be used within the suites and out on the field/playground.
School Hall & Studio – The main hall provides an excellent space in which the children and young people can run around. We provide various pieces of equipment such as ball, skipping ropes, ribbons, hula hoops and mats that the children can utilise within the space. It is also the perfect venue to get all of the residential pupils together for games e.g. parachute etc…
These types of activities, whilst providing an opportunity for the youngsters to let of steam and burn some energy, they also help develop social skills with their peers, hand/eye coordination, encourage movement and exercise while at the same time being fun.
The main hall can also be utilised for a cinema evening, with the film being projected onto the big screen or the Wii being connected to the projector for a larger than life gaming experience.
We also have access to the trampolines, which are a popular choice with many of our young people. Where possible Nicky Gregg will take a session, teaching the group new skills. We also use the studio.
Celebrations & Karaoke – We like to celebrate special occasions and events. These range from birthdays and Christmas to Divali, Burns Night, Chinese New Year. Birthday celebrations help to make the day special for the young person. Parents are able to visit if they wish. Other celebrations help to make the children more aware of cultural events.
Forest Fun – We like to spend time in the fresh air, whilst promoting independence. We plan weekly visits to the forest, the children are encourage to participate in various activities including art and crafts to roasting marshmallows around a campfire.
Cooking:- The children and young people are given the chance to participate in cooking sessions from time to time, whether it be simple recipes within the suite or planning and cooking their own meals in the HE room. Depending on the activity this could involve the process of planning a meal, looking for recipes, shopping for the ingredients and paying for them then cooking them. Cooking enables the children/young people to learn new skills. They learn how to make simple dishes with the ingredients and learn where their food comes from. Cooking is a process that starts with the planning of the meal, involving the children/young people in choosing what they would like to cook, making a list of ingredients and then shopping for them. This incorporates a whole host of skills from counting, weighing and measuring, social interactions, healthy eating, as well as learning how to follow instructions, health and safety in the kitchen and a chance to develop their fine motor skills. The outcome is a new set of skills and the satisfaction of making their own meal.
Within the Suites:- Many activities take place within the suites, such as Art & Craft, reading, messy play, puzzles, computers skills, as well as free choice and a time to relax and chill out after and before school. The young people are encouraged to choose activities to occupy their free time, encouraging independence.
Each suite is a homely environment which the children and young people can return to after school and tp each activity. The social area consists of a large table and chairs as well as a comfortable seating area with television. As the name suggests this is a very social area that the children and young people feel comfortable in, it encourages friendship building and social interaction. After school many of the young people will have homework to complete for the following day.
Within the suite the young people are able to follow their own routines to develop their personal and independence skills. The suite provide a space to take part in Thrive activities to help promote emotional wellbeing.
The School Field & Playground:- The outside space around school is utilised more often during the summer months. Activities such as football, rounders, and other sports that encourage the young people to participate in physical exercise, team building and of course to have fun. During the summer months, warm weather permitting, water play is a firm favourite. The youngsters have access to balls, skipping ropes, bicycles and scooters. Also chalks and bubbles.
Gym – The school has a gym on site that can be accessed by young people, 14 years and over. Many of the pupils have timetabled slots during the school day where they access the equipment.
All of the children and young people are encouraged to participate in regular exercise whether it is structured e.g. using of the onsite gym, or simply out for a walk. Evening activities incorporate opportunities for the youngsters to go outdoors, to explore their environment and get close to nature. These types of activities not only help the young people to expend energy but improve their wellbeing (emotional, psychological and mental) as well as helping to develop social skills.
Walks:- Walks are varied depending on the ability of the group, and the weather. The youngsters are always dressed accordingly, wellies, coats, sun hat/cream depending onthe weather and changes of clothes are taken when necessary. The walks can range from a walk around town incorporating another activity e.g shopping or park, to a full hike on the local hills, a sensory walk in the woods to splash about in puddles and play in the leaves.
Walks are a great way to incorporate exercise into a young person’s day while still making it fun. During the summer evenings we often take a picnic tea and various games e.g. kites, balls etc… and spend the afternoon & evening out of school. The young people get fresh air, burn energy, develop their social skills from being with their peers. As well as experiencing the environment around them, learning about the trees and leaves, plants and animals, many of the walks allow the children to experience a degree of freedom in an open space while at the same time being safe and supervised. They can explore their
Environment, all the time having fun! When walking in the forest the young people are encouraged to collect sticks for a fire and enjoy cooking sausages and making s’mores.
Parks – We are lucky to have wide variety of parks and playgrounds in the surrounding area. They have a variety of equipment ranging from swings and slides to zip-lines and exercise equipment. As well as giving the youngsters an opportunity to burn off some energy, they are able to develop their gross motor skills, friendships and imagination. The choice of park is considered carefully to match the abilities and behaviours of the group.
Bowling – Is a great social activity for the young people, an opportunity to interact as well and add healthy competition if required. Bowling is offered to all the young people and is adaptable for all ages and abilities
Soft Play & Activity Centres – The young people thoroughly enjoy the soft play and activity centres. It allows them to have a little more independence, a chance to interact with other children as well as providing physical exercise and fun.
Farm and Wildlife parks – There are several farm parks that provide the opportunity for the youngsters to get up close to animals, reptiles and insects. They help the pupils to learn about different creatures and their habitats.
Other activities that are on offer are:-
Cinema & DVD Evenings – On a couple of occasions the young people have been invited to Number 8 cinema in Pershore, they also access the local cinemas if a suitable film is being screened.
Swimming – There are several swimming pools local to the school that are accessed by the residential pupils. The choice of pool depends on the mix of youngsters, their abilities and the level of supervision needed. Swimming aids are used as required and the activity itself is used for developing the young people’s swimming skills as well as an opportunity to have fun.
Shopping – During the week the young people participate in shopping trips which allow them to purchase personal items using their pocket money. This activity encourages choice, money management and is linked to their assessment targets and self help/independence skills.
Each term an event is organized where the boarders are able to invite their parents and siblings in for the evening, whether it be for a sports evening, mince pies or a BBQ, this provides the siblings with a chance to see where their brother/sister is during the week and for parents to meet each other. Each year we try our best to organise a residential holiday for our young people, an opportunity to experience a new environment outside of school.
During the winter evenings or due to bad weather DVD nights are organised within the suites or during the wind down time before bed. As a result of the residential forum some of the young people have requested that separate DVD’s be available for viewing allowing the older pupils to watch the higher certificated films. (due to the age ranges within the suites this has not always been possible). It has been arranged on such evenings that at least two DVD choices be played to allow for the different age ranges.
Fairs – The young people are able to visit the annual visiting “Mop” Fair as well as the all year round fair and amusements at Stourport. Activities are also organised that allow the young people to mix with peers from the wider community such as the local Disco. The perfect opportunity to meet up with some old friends. All activities both in school and out are risk assessed by the member of staff organising them. Appropriate staffing levels are employed to ensure that the youngsters are safe and well supported.
In Blossom House, we recognise that all of our learners with special educational needs have a right to be ‘heard’. For some of our young people, much of their communication will be pre-intentional, learners are dependent on the support of sensitive adults to interpret their vocalisations and body language. Some of our pupils are in the early stages of intentional communication and use a wide variety of strategies to communicate. We aim to provide all of the pupils with a rich, engaging and responsive environment that motivates them as communicators.
In Blossom house our aim is to:
- Embed the use of communication through a Total Communication approach so that pupils can communicate effectively with others in a range of social situations and in the world around them.
- Respect all pupils as effective communicators by holding Intensive Interaction as central to our communication approach.
- Optimise attention skills for all pupils so they can engage in independent exploration and in some cases can develop joint attention so they can communicate with others about things that interest them.
- Provide a rich and varied range of literacy activities to develop a love of stories.
- Communication is taught as an integral part of every activity throughout the setting
- Each pupil has an individual plan for learning for communication that details the learning experiences they will receive.
- Communication learning takes place in a range of contexts. New learning in communication is developed working 1:1 with an adult. We see all learners as potential independent learners and use an active learning approach to support this. We value our learners as social beings and provide opportunities to communicate as part of a small or larger group.
A variety of strategies are used to support pupils understanding of what is happening throughout the day, to allow them to make choices and have a sense of control. These include
- Object cues
- Objects of reference
- Personal signifiers
- Tassels on body signs
- Photo cues
- Now / then boards
- Visual timetables
Strategies and approaches to develop expressive communication include:
- Body language
- Facial expressions
- Eye contact
- Gestures and pointing
- Signing (Signalong)
- Use of objects of reference
- Use of low and High-Tech AAC
The impact of learning opportunities is assessed on a daily basis through careful staff observation. Impact is evidenced using the Evidence for Learning online system. We use the engagement model to assess pupil engagement across the range of learning opportunities.
We work collaboratively with parents and other professionals including speech and language therapists to set long-term communication targets as part of pupil EHCP reviews. All pupils will have at least 1 target around their communication needs. These long-term targets are broken down into termly Individual learning intentions (ILIS). Progress against ILIS, the engagement scale and profile and the Vale Routes assessment tool is discussed termly in a professional conversation between teachers, the Complex curriculum lead and SLT.
The Accommodation comprises of three suites:
Sunflower suite has six bedroom in total, a walk in shower, a bathroom and a social area.
Poppy Suite has four bedrooms in total, a bathroom, seperate toilet and a social area.
Bluebell suite has five rooms in total, bathroom, shower room, separate toilet and a social area.
Each young person has the opportunity to choose the colour for their bedroom and they are encouraged to personalise the room with their own photos and posters. Bedding is provided, however if you would prefer to supply your own this is fine.
All of the social areas are central to the suite and have a large family table as well as a comfy seating area which allows the children and young people to participate in group activities or simply to socialise and relax.
The suites have recently been decorated and are a homely space in which the children can thrive.
The dining room has been renovated into a multi-purpose space. The youngsters are still able to come together for their breakfast and evening meal. They are also now able to access the space for games nights, cinema evenings and discos.
We currently have use of an Art/Craft Room that doubles up as a reading room where the boarders can relax on beanbags reading their favourite books.
Admissions & Transitions
Blossom House provides up to 15 weekly boarding places, for pupils who attend the school. Priorities for the placement of the pupils in this provision are established after consultation with families, pupils, social care colleagues and the local authority.
1. Admission Criteria – Considerations
Prior to deciding the appropriate Pathway and at the point of referral of an individual for a residential placement within the Vale of Evesham School, consideration should be given to the following areas:
- School Placement: Only pupils who have an identified secure placement within the school will be considered for the residential provision. Referrals for pupils who need residential support but who will attend different schools will not be considered unless there is already an agreed transition period and start date for the school. The need for a residential placement will be identified with the EHCP (Education Health Care Plan) or agreed as part of a review.
- Age: In order that the provision operates effectively and that the emotional welfare of all the residents is considered. The minimum age for admission should be children within academic year 4 and pupils leave at the end of the academic year 13. Where possible, within house-groups, a maximum age difference of eight years should be considered with regards to vacancies.
- Prior Intervention: Consideration should be taken into what evidenced previous intervention and/or support has been given to families and/or the pupils who are being referred to the residential provision. This may include: any respite that the pupil has received within care provisions, any usage of direct payments in relation to the pupil having care outside of the family home. Consideration should be made as to how an individual may respond to a new four-night residential provision if they have not previously had any form of residential provision elsewhere.
- Number of boarding nights: Transitions into the residential provision could include a gradual build-up of the number of nights in residence. For example: a pupil may reside for one or more nights a week raising to four nights a week over a given time. Pupils will only generally be considered for residential boarding whereby a four-night week is the ultimate agreed outcome. Bedrooms are to be used for one pupil only and personalised as such (as stated in the NMS) therefore, for example two pupils sharing one bedroom on a two-night placement each, should not be considered.
- Impact on current residents: At the point of referral, consultation and the involvement of, the Head of Care and/or Headteacher, is imperative to ensure that the needs and welfare of the current pupils are considered prior to new pupils being admitted.
- 24-hour Curriculum: It should be identified that the pupil will benefit from a waking day curriculum across the school and care environment where a consistent approach is required in order to maximise educational outcomes and independent living skills. In addition, it may be identified that the pupil requires support with independent living skills and/or learning life skills using consistent educational approaches.
2. Admissions Criteria – Pathways for Residential Provision
A. Supporting the Achievement of Educational Outcomes:
As identified within Annual Reviews, there may be some reasons for considering a residential provision to support the achievements of educational outcomes through a waking day curriculum. Areas for concern would be raised either by the school, parent/carer or social worker (or a combination of these) and discussed within the Annual Review Process. Where a residential provision is likely to be discussed within the Annual Review, the Head of Care or Deputy Head of Care should attend the meeting. Triggers for using this pathway may include;
- The current care environment does not support learning and may trigger inappropriate behaviours which are then brought into the school environment.
- The pupil requires educational input in the area of life-skills and independence. This may be pertinent to a pupil nearing the end of their schooling and who requires additional support in order for their development into adulthood.
B. Home circumstances are difficult as evidenced through social care interventions:
As identified through previous interventions, the home/care environment is not satisfactory and the child’s needs cannot be met in the community. The pupil may already be identified as a CIN or has received early help. Areas for concern would be raised by the parent and/or the social worker and discussed within the Annual Review Process. Where a residential provision is likely to be discussed within the Annual Review, the Head of Care or Deputy Head of Care should attend the meeting. Triggers for using this pathway may include:
- Challenging behaviour within the home is at a point that the welfare of the pupil and/or their parents/legal guardians and/or their siblings and/or wider family is at a critical level and it is recognised that the situation would be considerably improved should the pupil have a residential provision whilst at school.
- The health needs of the pupil and/or their carers and/or their siblings require additional support and it is deemed beneficial for the pupil to have a residential provision to support this.
- Where the child has received considerable respite and home support but the home circumstances have not improved or where a 52-week residential package has already been suggested and/or discussed but deemed too considerable given family holidays and weekends at home.
- Where there has been a recent significant change in the home circumstances which has had a direct impact on the stability within the home/care environment.
THE SEND MANAGER AT THE LOCAL AUTHORITY MAY BE CONSULTED AND ADMISSION GRANTED WHEN APPROVED.
3. Out of County Referrals
Out of county pupils may be admitted with the agreement of the SEND Service Manager depending on the availability, suitability of places ONLY if a place is available within the day school. The pupils’ own authority is responsible for all funding to the school and residential facility. The authorities’ admissions criteria and considerations listed in sections 1 and 2 apply to both in county and out of county pupils. In addition, consideration will be given to the distance in which transitional arrangements can be made and the cost of any transportation to and from the school. Further consideration will be made toward any possible effect on a pupil moving any considerable distance from their family home or care environment.
Transitions into Blossom House will be tailored to the individual and what best suits the child/young person. Discussions will be held with parents/carers to develop a transition plan best suited for the individual.
Transition Plan into Blossom House