Vranch House is a centre for the treatment of over 2,000 outpatients with physical difficulties, a provider of various therapies throughout Devon and an independent Day School in Exeter for children with significant physical difficulties.

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Last updated: 27/05/2024

Headteacher's Report 2011



1) What have been our successes this year?

  • The implementation of a Targeted Curriculum, designed to meet the needs of all children within school. This targeted curriculum has been carefully planned to meet a wide range of needs and abilities and continues to be further refined and developed as necessary.
  • The continuing development of skills when working with children with profound and complex physical and learning difficulties. This has been achieved through training days and also via training within the school day which has included adults and children learning together.
  •  The school has raised funds for the Feed the Children Charity, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer Awareness.
  • Via donations we have been able to fund new music equipment for our music therapist, a Soundbeam, (thanks to Music Gym Ltd. where we purchased the Soundbeam system) and a bubble tube for our sensory room.
  • Preparations have begun to move our sensory room into our old resources room. Plans have been made and funding has been sourced to allow work to begin.
  • The school council continues to generate ideas for improvements which include requests for more toys and minibus drivers, so the children can go on more school visits.
  • Links continue between the charity Whizz-Kidz and ourselves, which has included football skills and powered wheelchair skills workshops.
  • We continue to work successfully with Exeter University, Exeter College and other Special Schools in Devon to develop early years child development students and teacher training links.
  • Our teachers and teaching assistants continue to pursue their professional development via a range of training and courses, in addition to our regular INSET days.
  • Preparation for the introduction of a MIS (management information system) within school, to assist with administrative tasks, streamline assessment, report and IEP writing and provide support for the collection of data throughout school.
  • Preparation for the introduction of MERLIN a learning platform for use by pupils at Vranch House and also in their mainstream schools. A platform that can be accessed by teachers, pupils and parents at home or either school. MERLIN is provided by SWGfL (south west grids for learning) a non-profit making charity which provides advice to schools on safe internet and ICT access for children.
  • Class 3 children went sailing in specially adapted sailing dinghys in Teignmouth with the Even Keel Project - "empowering individuals to conquer their dream".

Chart: Inclusion

Eighty-one percent of pupils were included in mainstream schools on shared placements in January 2011. This is a slight decrease on last year’s figure of eight-eight percent and this is due to the nineteen percent of pupils in school, who are not attending mainstream school at all at present, due to their profound and complex needs.

2) What are we trying to improve?


Whole School Priorities for 2011 - 2012

  • Develop ICT confidence and expertise across school for information, assessment and recording purposes and for providing improved ICT access for children in school
  • Investigate, develop and incorporate approaches to raising the self-esteem of children within school
  • Audit switch adapted and sensor toys within school and create database of products with additional guidance for adults regarding how to make best use of them for individual children. Create a list of future requirements for the purchase of suitable switch adapted and sensor toys
  • Audit existing opportunities for outdoor play and explore and identify equipment and requirements to further enhance outdoor area and the playroom

3) How much progress do pupils make?


Pupils at Vranch House School make good progress when their baseline achievements are taken into account. The following section describes the results for Foundation, Key Stage 1 and 2 assessment during 2010/11. The results are compared to targets set two years previously.


Foundation Stage Assessment

The results of the Foundation Stage Assessment show the two children concerned are working towards early learning goals in all subjects. This reflects the current early years intake who are working at developmental levels.


National Curriculum Results for School Year 2010/2011


Review of Targets set for Key Stage 1 Assessment for Year 2010/11

Targets were set for four key stage 1 children for the academic year 2008/2009. These are shown in the table below.

Since 2009/2010 two of these children have moved on to full time mainstream placements. The targets set for the two remaining children were to achieve P6-P8 for English, Maths and Science. Both children achieved this target for English and Maths. One child achieved this target for Science and one was only 1 P Level below the set target.

Future Target for Key Stage 1 Assessment for year 2012/2013

The target is based on EYFS assessment supported by data from PIVATs, Durham and teacher assessments for the three pupils who took part in EYFS in 2010/2011.

These targets represent at least one level of progress and they are considered to be challenging. It is anticipated that two of these children will remain at Vranch House School, although one or more may be in a shared placement with a mainstream setting. The third child will have moved to full-time mainstream placement before 2012/13.

Key Stage 2

There were zero pupils in Year 6 for Year 2010/2011

Future Target for Key Stage 2 Assessment for Year 2012/2013

There were six Year 4 pupils in 2010/11. Targets are based on PIVATS, Durham and teacher assessments in July 2010.

These targets represent at least one level of progress and are considered to be challenging.

4) How have our results changed over time?

At Key Stage 1 pupils achieve a range of scores from P Levels through working towards, and up to Level 1.

At Key Stage 2 there has been an overall decline in the levels achieved. This is because pupils who achieve higher levels at Key Stage 1, have by year 6, often been fully included in their local mainstream schools. The remaining Key Stage 2 children have been typically working at P levels or Level 1.

5) How are we making sure that every child gets teaching to meet their individual needs?

  • Individual IEPs linked to statement of special educational needs and annual review, with a focus on personalised learning, individual needs and life skills development.
  • Formative and summative assessment including; Pre-entry assessment, Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum profiles, assessment for learning Key Stage 1 and 2 assessment, annual assessment of National Curriculum and P Scale levels, annual school report, annual and interim review reports.
  • Annual monitoring of pupil progress using PIVATS data analysis and Durham data analysis.
  • Moderation of individual pupil assessment, including links with mainstream schools.
  • Regular meetings between staff to ensure children's needs are met.
  • Targeted curriculum.
  • Visits from Educational Psychologist and LA Advisory Teachers.
  • Personal Education Plans for children with additional and complex medical or physical needs.
  • Music therapy.

6) What have pupils told us about the school, and what have we done as a result?

  • Pupils enjoying activities, such as school discos, repeated at both ends of a week, to ensure that the maximum number of children can be involved.
  • Pupils have enjoyed the interactive displays in the corridors and we are continuing to develop an interesting indoor environment.
  • Pupils have the choice of school meals or bringing packed lunches.
  • There is a school council through which pupils have an opportunity to contribute towards ideas and decisions. For example the school council chooses the Christmas Play each year and helps to plan the Christmas Party.
  • School Council Members take turns to show visitors around school.
  • We have been encouraging pupil voice across the school community.

7) How do we make sure our pupils are safe and well supported?

  • School nurse on duty at all times.
  • Good levels of staffing.
  • Audit aim to improve PSHE support and raise the self-esteem of the children.
  • Pupils are encouraged to let staff know if they have any problems.
  • Regular clinics held at school: paediatric, orthopaedic, orthoptic, audiology and wheelchair clinics.
  • Children's diets monitored.
  • Effective links between home, respite, transport and shared placements to ensure up to date knowledge on dietary, behavioural, medical or communication needs are shared.
  • Effective induction of new staff.
  • Provision of healthy snacks at break times.
  • Good standard of moving and handling, including regular updates and training.
  • Comprehensive health and safety policy with regular premises checks.
  • Closed circuit security cameras outside the building.
  • Good security procedures - registration of visitors, car parking permits.
  • Regular fire drills.
  • High levels of investment in buildings and equipment and regular maintenance.
  • Safeguarding policies in place and a high level of staff awareness.
  • Regular child protection updates.
  • Liaison with mainstream schools regarding issues such as attainment, moderation and attendance.
  • Secure boundaries around school.
  • Visitors to school informed re policy on use of mobile phones in school.
  • Monthly support staff meetings to raise concerns or issues.
  • A Staff Governor who provides an easily accessible link between staff and management. The Staff Governor represents the views of everyone at support and governors meetings.

8) How do our absence rates compare with other schools?

  • Total number of pupils of compulsory school age on roll for at least one session - 19.
  • Percentage of pupil sessions (half days) missed through authorised absence - 9.5% and through unauthorised absence - 0.0 %.

The authorised absence figure is higher than for the previous year (5.1% authorised and 0.1 unauthorised). This reflects the complex medical needs of some pupils and represents a second year of increase. The overall absence rate for pupils (excluding one child with severe and complex health needs, who attends for a reduced timetable) is 5.5%. This figure compares more favourably with those given by DFE for special schools i.e. 8.58% authorised absence and 2.14% unauthorised absence. (National Statistics published March 2010).

9) What activities are available to pupils?

  • Broad and balanced curriculum.
  • Music therapy sessions for individual children and small groups.
  • Outdoor nature trail and classroom including tracker mobility device.
  • ICT - children individually assessed and given full access to ICT with fully accessible Learning Resource Centre.
  • Swimming / hydrotherapy.
  • P.E. and Swimming badges/certificates (as appropriate).
  • Holiday wheelchair workshops.
  • Range of educational visits off-site e.g. Northcott Theatre, St George V Inclusive Playpark, Odeon Cinema, Donkey Sanctuary
  • Links with Whizz-Kidz Charity
  • Lunch play activity groups - attended through pupil choice

10) How are we working with parents and the community?

  • Parent representative on the Governors.
  • Signing and moving and handling courses and Therapy Open Weeks.
  • In school training opportunities and workshops to encourage parents to try out equipment and ask the experts for advice.
  • Wheelchair workshops during holidays.
  • Therapy sessions provided during holidays.
  • Fund raising activities for charities by the children including Feed The Children and Breast Cancer Awareness.
  • Christmas Fayre.
  • Student placements from local colleges and universities.
  • Sailing in Teignmouth.
  • Arts week with Devon Guild of Craftsmen.
  • Visits to and from West Town Farm, Ide, to ride in specially made chariots.
  • Support from local businesses and associations e.g. Visit from a local vet who brought along a colleague and her dog for the disabled
  • Parents and families invited to school events e.g. school play, Easter Bonnet parade, Achievement Awards assembly, Harvest Festival.

11) What do our pupils do after leaving this school?

Most of the pupils continue their placements in their mainstream partner schools, if they move to full inclusion before Secondary age. Some pupils go on to secondary mainstream or special schools depending on what is the most appropriate provision for the child's individual needs.

12) What have we done in response to Ofsted?

Extracts from Ofsted report in May 2009:

‘Vranch House School provides an outstanding quality of education. ‘

‘Teachers, therapists and support assistants form a very strong team and create a very strong team and create an extremely caring environment where pupils are encouraged to try their best.'

‘Pupils make outstanding progress and their personal development is outstanding.'

‘Excellent Early Years Foundation Stage provision'.


What the school could do to improve further:

  • Ensure that the timetable for pupils on part-time placements includes sufficient balance between subjects.
New school/school/home diaries have been established, timetables and IEPs are shared. The inclusion service maintains regular liaison between both schools. 2008/09

Paying particularattention to writing skills development whilst maintaining reading, and numeracy. 2009/10

Writing and fine motor skills targeted with some children during targeted curriculum, using ‘Write Dance' approach. 2010/11
Teachers from Vranch House having been visiting schools with our Inclusion Advisory Occupational Therapist to see the children in their mainstream environment and liaise with professional colleagues. 2010/11

  • Make pupils' targets more precise to enable small steps in learning to be recorded.
Training in writing SMART targets, close liaison between education, therapy and medical staff, sharing targets with pupils. 2008/09

Include children more with their own target setting and assessment. 2010/11

Provision mapping of staffing levels linked to individual pupil targets for curriculum and independent living skills acquisition 2009/10

One to one adult support for therapy groups. 2010/11

Implement new policy regarding children with exceptional additional medical needs, necessitating periods of time absent from school to ensure links are maintained and children are supported educationally, socially and physically. To include regular liaison with parents/carers and a personal education plan. 2009/10

Continue to develop approaches to support these children and their families and also to collect meaningful data for a range of purposes. 2010/11
  • Make better use of the outdoor space to promote (learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage.)
Improve provision for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties by staff and pupils undergoing Soundabout training and implementing a sensory curriculum at regular intervals as appropriate. 2009/10

Sensory activities taking place as part of daily targeted curriculum activities. Groups held outside when weather permitting. 2010/11.