New Year at Northern House School

I have recently stepped down at Chair of Governors at Northern House School. Oxfordshire’s only BESD primary school caters for around 70 young children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. It has been a privilege to be Chair for around 7 years and I remain a governor.

Today I attended the first part of a staff training day on ‘team-teach’ the methodology applied in the school to manage the challenging behaviour exhibited by nearly all pupils at one time or another. 95% of the approach is concerned with avoiding the triggers which lead to challenging behaviour, diverting a child who has started to experience negative feelings from going on to exhibit negative behaviour, de-escalating a situation where challenging behaviour has started to be shown. A young member of the school staff who is a qualified trainer explained the importance of use of space in the classroom, body language and facial expressions, tone of voice, noticing and reinforcing positive behaviour. We were also shown safe responses to physical expressions such as grabbing and the course would go on to demonstrate safe holds for young children. But these should only represent 5% or less of the management techniques used and should be used as a last resort or when safety requires it. Parents should feel hugely reassured that their children are supported in a safe, respectful, caring, professional environment with an individualised approach tailored to their child’s special and individual needs.

Also today work has begun on a modest new build for the school to replace decades old temporary classrooms and world war II Horser Buildings. This will provide a purpose built environment for the children including 6 new classrooms, a life skills area and a family room. This will bring to fruition the vision of the former head teacher Gill Carey who tragically died of cancer and is still very sorely missed. Gill’s vision for the school is also being taken forward in discussions around an expanded role for Northern House within the BESD provision for the county. Cranes are due on site tomorrow!

So, a great start to 2011 for Northern House!

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