Families’ Q&A

Questions & Answers

What we do at St Dominic’s?

We specialise in meeting the needs of pupils and students with complex learning difficulties through our curriculum, supported by a multi-professional team (teachers, therapists, learning and inclusion leads, learning mentors, nurse and support assistants) using a ‘blended’ provision of teaching, therapy and care.  We offer day placements to Key Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 pupils and students.

The curriculum extends experiences, skills and knowledge from the school day into an alternative, contextual, social learning environment which further promotes the development of appropriate communication and interaction and functional independence.

Who we provide for

St Dominic’s School is for pupils and sixth form students between the ages of 7 to 19, all of whom have an EHCP who have a complex range of difficulties including  ASD, SLI, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, ODD, OCD, ADD, CP, sensory and perceptual difficulties, MLD, hearing loss and other medical conditions. The pupils and students we admit come from varying educational backgrounds including mainstream education, other SEN providers, BESD schools and those who have been out of education for prolonged periods of time because of phobias and exclusions.  Many pupils and students have more than one area of difficulty and an increasing number of pupils and students are presenting complex needs.

Visiting our school

Families and/or local authorities can make direct contact with St Dominic’s School and organise an informal visit to the site by contacting our Admissions and Family Liaison Manager.

Before an assessment is considered

The school will need to have sight of relevant documentation outlining the needs of the pupil or student including the statement and reports, and the prospective pupil/student needs to visit before we offer an assessment.  The three day assessment is free of charge to both parents and local authorities looking to place a child with us.

After an assessment

Following assessment, pupils and students are discussed at a Pupil and Student Panel meeting by the Senior Leadership Team to determine suitability of the peer group and the impact of the prospective pupil or student on the peer group.  Families and the LA will be contacted one week after the assessment.

Your child’s provision

The offer letter will describe the wave provision that the pupil or student will need.  All new pupils and students complete a range of Baseline assessments within six weeks. This will inform the PLP, which is written by the sixth week.

Provision is reviewed throughout the placement and can be increased or decreased according to need.  The school has a robust communication system with an open door policy with the Form Tutor as the primary contact.

Our blended personalised provision

St Dominic’s School delivers the National Curriculum in a modified and differentiated format to meet the individual learning needs of the pupils and students.  St Dominic’s School is a national lead in the ‘blended’ approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum.  T

The school addresses the social learning needs of the pupils and students through the use of a Social Communication Programme ©, which is embedded into the curriculum.  The range of strategies, including award POINTs and Classroom Rules, used across the curriculum ensures consistency of approach across all settings.

Contact with St Dominic’s and your child’s progress

Parents receive informal contact through emails or a home school book from tutors and the residential team on a weekly basis.  Further information is shared via termly reports and reports for annual reviews, PLP targets and reviews. Parents are invited to open afternoons where they can meet staff and discuss their child/young person. Parents are actively involved in Options choices for Key Stages 4 and 5.   The school tracks and monitors pupil/student progress half termly, which informs the wave provision to ensure progress.   Parents are informed of expected progress through the reporting structure.  Parent training and learning events are available through the half termly Parent Forum events.

Our guide to end of term reports can be found here:

End of Term Report Guidance for Families

Holistic provision and wellbeing

In addition to academic progress, all other areas of the pupil or student progress is tracked and monitored.  We have a robust Pastoral Pathway which includes the Learning and Inclusion Leads, Learning Mentors, Form Tutors and Therapists.  St Dominic’s has a registered school nurse who oversees physical and mental well-being, coordinates dispensing of medication, provides training to staff and supports the curriculum in relevant areas.

The school has an effective Behaviour and Learning Policy.  All staff are trained to manage behaviour through MAPA, which is non-confrontational and focuses on prevention and de-escalation of behaviours.  The school recognises that all behaviour is communication and has the additional strength of having MAPA instructors on the staff.  These staff members also fulfil the role of Behaviour and Inclusion Leads that are able to address and support difficulties when they arise by removing the barriers to learning.

The pupils and students contribute to their termly reports, their annual review meetings, which are pupil/student centred, and their PLP target setting and reviews.  Pupils and students also elect representatives for the Student Voice, who meet regularly to discuss school improvement. Pupils and students also undertake observations of teaching and learning as part of our development and improvement programme.

Our specialist services and setting

We have a team of experienced SEN teachers, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists (including SI trained), Learning Mentors and a registered nurse who is able to access other services including a local GP and CAMHS.  There are links with local colleges, other schools and Pathways Advisors. We have a Careers and Education Guidance professional who works with individuals and groups of pupils and students across the key stages to ensure appropriate options, college placements and work experience prepares all pupils and students’ for life and the world of work beyond St Dominic’s.

Staff training and continuous professional development

There is an on-going programme of In Service training for all staff, including safeguarding, MAPA and medication training.  The school delivers training on autism and the effects of complex learning difficulties on learning and achievement and how to remove these barriers.  The whole school approach to teaching pupils and students with ASD has been endorsed by the National Autistic Society through the Autism Accreditation Award.  External links to training include attending conferences and training programmes, such as ICAN, NAPLIC, LiLaC, NAS and NASS.

Education outside the classroom

The school’s multi-sensory approach to learning includes a comprehensive programme of additional activities that are held during the lunch break and after school.  Pupils and students are strongly encouraged to participate in at least one additional activity each week.  School visits and visitors are an integral part of the curriculum and all pupils and students are included.   Residential trips are offered to all pupils and students during their time at St Dominic’s School.

Our Environment

St Dominic’s School is situated on a beautiful, elevated site on the Greensand Ridge in the south west corner of Surrey. A few miles to the south are the borders of Hampshire and West Sussex.  The School stands in 56 acres of wooded grounds with ample space for recreational activities and magnificent views in all directions. The School is easily accessible by road and is less than a mile from the main line station at Witley with its frequent links to Waterloo and Portsmouth.

Transition and future planning

The first introduction a young person has to St Dominic’s may well come through viewing our website.  Viewing the video tour of the school and the photographs of our extensive grounds, the activities available and the pupils and students who come here, can be an ice-breaking introduction to the school undertaken from the safety of their own home.  A new pupil/student would receive a ‘Welcome’ leaflet, which includes information such as a picture of the teacher in the classroom setting, and the first names of the other children who will be in their group.

Open Mornings are opportunities for new pupils and students to visit along with families, before attending the school.  These are held at the end of the summer term, so that pupils and students joining at the start of the new academic year will have had a chance to be at St Dominic’s again immediately prior to the summer holiday break.  This also presents the opportunity not only to re-acquaint themselves with our current pupils and students, but to meet other new pupils and students joining with them in the September.

Families of our new pupils and students automatically become members of our Family Forum.  They are given the opportunity to share contact details with each other, so that children in the same class, residential area, or even taxi, can make arrangements to meet up with each other, both before the new pupil or student starts, and as a continuing contact in order to help foster friendship groups after school or through the holidays.  A committee member of the Family Forum also makes contact with the families of any new pupil or student before the child starts at the school wherever possible, to facilitate their introduction to the school community.

Each new pupil and student is assigned a Form Tutor.

How do we allocate resources to the pupils/students special educational needs?

Our blended approach to learning and close working methods of all departments across the curriculum combined with the continuous internal knowledge sharing of SEN by our staff we are well positioned to make informed decisions on the allocation of resources.

Proposed outcomes are monitored and reported to the Governing Body on the allocation of pupil premium.

How is the decision made about what type and how much support the individual pupil or student will receive?

We have a provision map which helps inform us of the level of support required by individual pupils and students and the level of intervention required to meet the pupil’s or student’s needs.

Our Wave One provision is blended teaching and therapy which is common to all pupils and students.  All pupils and students will have one teacher in each lesson, using core resources for each curricular area.  All pupils and students will work on their therapy targets within the classroom setting.

Our Wave Two provision is complementary teaching and therapy which includes interventions which are additional to Wave One.  This means that teachers will use additional staff to meet the needs of pupils and students and additional resources may be required.

Our Wave Three provision is distinctive from Wave One and Two.  Pupils and students are identified as requiring more individual programmes delivered on a 1:1 basis.  This may be identified in Part 3 of the statement in the provision to meet objectives, or may have been identified by the professional judgement of the teaching and therapy team.

The experience of our multi-disciplinary team shows that the impact of intervention offered through the provision at St Dominic’s enables pupils and students to make progress and, therefore, levels of support are not static and change over time. The high level of support does not remain constant as the success of interventions mean the pupils’ and students’ progress are de-escalated through the waves. At each Annual Review, progress is reviewed against provision and the level of support reassessed.

Family involvement

Families are actively encouraged to be involved in the life and learning here at St Dominic’s. Family Forum meetings and events, annual reviews, sports day, fund raising, and open days are some of the opportunities available for parents and cares to be involved in the life of the school. Presentation afternoons and School at Work days are all opportunities to see and celebrate the work of the school and the excellent outcomes for our pupils and students.

Who can you contact for further information?

Visiting the school – Admissions and Family Liaison Manager

Education Queries – Head of Lower School or Head of Upper School.

Therapy Queries  –  Head of Therapy

Safeguarding – One of our team of a Designated Safeguarding Lead and eight Designated Safeguarding Officers.