St Ann’s prides itself on being a highly inclusive school. It has a long history of including students with extremely complex behavioural needs through supportive and positive behavioural management strategies.
In November 2015 building on our wealth of collective practice and informed by research, we ‘launched’ Telstar class which offered a highly personal, nurturing, child-centred approach for eight students, facilitated through a cohesive, experienced team providing 1:1 support.
Timetable, structure and routine no longer shaped the learning day. Instead a variety of motivating, multisensory based activities were constantly available, with students being free to choose to participate or not. This student led, play based, low demand learning approach enabled students to feel more relaxed and consequently they quickly became more motivated to engage. Over time they made substantial gains in their ability to self regulate, to communicate and to interact with staff and with each other.
This innovative provision was so successful that in July 2019, funded by the Local Authority a £1.6M RCL build project began on site to create a high specification, purpose built Telstar for up to 15 young people. This was to replace the double portacabins that had previously housed Telstar students and staff.
In September 2020, in spite of inevitable delays caused by the Covid pandemic, the new Telstar provision was finally opened to students. We are delighted with our new facilities and the part we played in helping to design them. Telstar is truly designed and built around the very special needs of our young people. It is light, airy and welcoming and has a fluidity of design that enables students to see what is going on around them so that they are encouraged to be curious, to participate and to achieve. Telstar boasts highly specialist lighting with colour wash options, a large teaching hall, an Audio Visual room, an elevated soft play area, a cinema corner, a wet classroom, a therapy room, and a large, well equipped life skills area. There is easy access to the outside space which is surrounded by beautiful mature trees. The grounds have been carefully landscaped and include grassy areas, decking, swings, a covered sand area and a sunken trampoline.
Telstar students are responding very positively to their new provision which greatly enhances the delivery of their bespoke curriculum pathway ie ‘learning to be,’ to have agency and to develop self-regulation skills and functional life skills, both within school and in the wider community. Parents, carers and staff all want the same thing, for our young people to be happy, to be safe, to be able to impact on the world around them and as young adults, to take advantage of the rich variety of experiences that life holds. We believe that Telstar offers this opportunity.