The Academy is a national specialist education provision for deaf young people aged 4-24, including a nursery provision, which offers day or residential places to deaf students with a wide range of abilities. We have a specialist team of staff who are highly qualified and experienced in assessing the needs of deaf young people. These include Teachers of the Deaf, Speech & Language Therapists, British Sign Language Tutors, Educational Audiologist, a Physiotherapist, an Occupational Therapist and our Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who is experienced in assessing deaf young people with additional needs.
Following an initial visit to our Academy (at an Open Day or bespoke family visit), students are invited to stay with us for 2-3 days on an “Assessment Visit” when they will have the opportunity to stay overnight and experience life at the Academy in class and in the residential setting, as appropriate/required. This enables our Assessment Team to fully assess the young person’s needs and levels of support required; their full report is shared with you and, with your permission, with your Local Authority to support an application for a place at the Academy. We are also happy to liaise with your child’s current school so that we can learn more about your young person to facilitate their transition into our setting.
When your young person is placed with us we regularly observe, assess and monitor their individual needs, development and progress. This informs our curriculum planning and the need for any specialist support from our therapy teams.
Every student at the Academy is supported to make good progress. They benefit from small group teaching, individualised learning programmes, high staff/student ratios and highly trained specialist staff.
We offer a person centred approach which supports each learner to achieve their long term goals and aspirations. In planning our individual programmes, the needs of each young person are established and appropriate support is given to ensure these needs are met. Involved in this process is our wide range of Academy professionals which includes: Teachers of the Deaf, Speech & Language Therapists, BSL Tutors, Educational Audiologist; Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapist.
This “team around the child “approach is coordinated carefully so that the young person’s needs are supported effectively and families are kept informed of their child’s progress. Our Heads of School and College oversee all educational programmes, and our Governors/Trustees monitor the quality of provision to ensure that it meets the special educational needs of our young people effectively.
We recognise the potential barriers deaf learners may face within education. We are experts in delivering high quality education and care that supports the specific needs of these learners in order to ensure they reach their full potential. We match the needs of our individual students to appropriate education and care programmes ensuring high expectations for all. We follow a bi-lingual approach focusing on the development of both English and BSL language and communication skills. The curriculum is taught through both languages as appropriate for the learner.
Our Nursery and Primary departments make learning fun and meaningful in a language – rich environment. The Early Years Foundation Programme (EYFP) and the National Curriculum (NC) are followed in an effective way for our deaf learners. All lessons are highly visual, experiential and interactive. Classes are delivered by Teachers of the Deaf with a strong focus on developing individual student’s communication, language and literacy skills. This is further supported by our Speech and Language therapists, Educational Audiologist, Cued English Tutor and BSL Tutors. A particular strength of our provision is that the Primary Department has access to specialist subject teachers to ensure high quality education across the curriculum.
Our Secondary Department has a curriculum which supports each student to become critical, creative and reflective thinkers able to collaborate effectively with others and to follow a broad and balanced National Curriculum adapted to their needs and abilities. In Key Stage 4 (age 14-16) students are offered, based upon ability and interests, a range of GCSEs, Entry Level Certificates and Vocational qualifications across a variety of subjects. The World of Work and the wider community are important features of the secondary curriculum. A strong focus is also placed on the development of both BSL and English language. This enables students to interact positively with both hearing and deaf people. Students study Deaf culture and BSL which helps develop self-esteem, self-confidence and their own identity as young deaf adults.
Our College provision offers a diverse range of educational programmes tailored to meet individual needs and aspirations. A wide range of courses are taught on-site and in partnership with mainstream colleges supported by our specialist team of Communication Support Workers (CSWs) and Academy tutors. Vocational courses are offered at Levels 1, 2 and 3 in a broad range of subjects (e.g. Art & Design, Animal Care, Engineering, Health & Social Care, Catering, Creative Media & Film, Sport & Horticulture) In addition, A Levels, GCSEs and Functional Skills qualifications are delivered. Students are taught by Teachers of the Deaf on site in subjects such as English and Maths with BSL taught by Deaf Tutors. The college also offers numerous social and enrichment activities alongside the independent living skills programme as part of the residential care provision (e.g. sailing, sport, bowling, creative & performing arts). We value the importance of the world of work. A key strength of College are our Work Related Learning (WRL) programmes. These ensure our students are engaged in meaningful work experience placements with local employers and receive regular careers advice & guidance from our Academy WRL Co-ordinator. For our deaf students with additional, more complex needs, we offer courses to develop their independent life and living skills. These courses involve experiential learning activities at the Academy and within the wider community including work experience opportunities (e.g. at shops, cafes, and farms). Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and BSL national accreditations are also studied at appropriate levels for these students.
Each learner has individual targets in education and in care which are shared with the students and parent/carers. Students meet regularly with their personal tutor and key worker to review targets, discuss progress and to ensure that appropriate support is in place to fully meet their individual needs. At the end of each term parents/carers receive a report detailing the young person’s progress academically, socially and emotionally.
Annual Review meetings are also held involving the student, parents/carers, tutor and professionals from education, health, social care and careers to review the young person’s progress and to plan future targets/ next steps.
Tutors and Care staff regularly contact parents/carers (by phone, email etc) regarding your young person’s progress and to discuss any particular issues. You are also welcome to contact us at any time to discuss any concerns or questions.
Termly School and College newsletters are sent home reporting all the exciting and important events. Students are fully involved in their production and they are created bi-lingually; using both text and embedded BSL film.
Within education, each student has a pastoral tutor and within residential care, s/he has a designated key worker. There is close liaison between education and care staff to ensure that each student’s social/emotional needs are met. A key strength for our students is the immersion in deaf peer groups who share the same cultural identity and language. They thoroughly enjoy participating in our bi-lingual Academy community with their deaf friends and are supported to become valued citizens within the wider community of Exeter.
Support is provided by the Academy’s highly trained specialist therapy teams as outlined above which include support from our own Counsellors and Student Mentors. All staff at the Academy are trained in BSL and all contact staff are trained up to Level 3 and above.
We have an on-site Academy nurse and a visiting GP who liaise with our Care staff to ensure the appropriate management of medicines and personal care is maintained at all times. In addition, health and well-being of students is promoted and supported by our healthy eating programmes, sex and relationships education, healthy living and lifestyles education.
The Academy has a strong focus on the development of the social and emotional well being of our students. We take pride in the sense of belonging the young people have within our community. We nurture respect for one another and encourage students to take responsibility both for themselves and for caring for others within the community. Any behavioural issues are managed skilfully by our staff who are all trained in Non-Abusive, positive, psychological interventions (NAPPI) strategies. This ensures all learners develop trust in their relationships with staff and positive relationships across the Academy are fostered.
Our young people are encouraged to share their views with each other and with staff. There is an active Student Council in both school and college where students discuss any developments they feel are needed and share this with the Heads of School and College. For older learners, student support groups are also regular features which are facilited by our counselling team. This empowers our students to support each other with social/emotional issues or concerns.
Our dedicated and specialist staff team are vital to enabling our students to excel. As well as a team of Teachers of the Deaf and qualified Teaching Assistants, students can access a wide range of other professionals who work together to provide effective targeted support to help each young person succeed. These include:
Educational Audiologist, Speech & Language Therapists, BSL Tutors, Communication Support Workers, Counsellors, Student Mentors, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Work Related Learning Coordinator/Careers Adviser.
All our staff are qualified and trained in BSL.
If required, there are strong links with outside agencies to provide additional support (e.g. DeafCAMHS, Social Services)
All staff are trained to support our deaf learners and many courses result in additional qualifications e.g. as qualified CSWs, specialist TAs, Teachers of the Deaf. BSL training is continuous. New staff are given an induction course involving Deaf Awareness training and specialist knowledge and skills related to the education of deaf young people. Training is also given in supporting students with additional needs e.g. Autism, challenging behaviours.
Our staff have experience in working with young people with visual and multi-sensory impairments and we have several qualified Deaf/Blind specialist communicators working 1:1 with our students. We also have expertise in working with deaf young people with complex physical and mental health needs. All staff are trained to manage behavioural issues using the NAPPI approach.
Academy Deaf staff e.g.: Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Care Staff, Counsellor & Occupational Therapist provide positive role models bringing their life experiences to their work with our students.
A wealth of activities take place outside the classroom including residentials, Work Related Learning, mini-enterprise activities in the community, sport, arts and leisure activities. Our young people take part in regular educational and social activities during the day and within care time. Access arrangements and risk assessments are made to ensure students can be included appropriately. Also, if our students are working with mainstream partnership schools/colleges, they engage with their wider circle of friends and are fully involved in extra-curricular activities there too.
Physical accessibility is available including access for wheelchair users; appropriate living and learning spaces and chair/stair lifts. The auditory and visual environments have been enhanced to help cater for the needs of deaf learners. We have disabled changing and toilet facilities. We use equipment and assistive technology to support our students with their learning and independence skills. We translate letters and policies into BSL for parents/carers and our deaf staff.
A brand new, purpose-built Academy will be in place when we move to our new site in September 2016. The design brief facilitates the development of an exceptionally good visual learning environment for our young people and incorporates design features to ensure excellent access arrangements for all our learners both physically and acoustically.
To help each young person make a smooth transition to the Academy we assess their needs fully before they enrol and provide transition days when students can visit our school or college, join in activities with our learners and stay overnight as appropriate. Students become familiar with their new friends, with staff and with Academy routines. When students join us at the start of the new academic year we also have student induction days.
To prepare students for the transition from school to the next phase, a formal Transition Plan is discussed at the student’s Year 9 Annual Review in consultation with the young person, their parents/carers and professionals. This outlines the young person’s preferred next steps and their needs within education, health and social care. The Transition Plan is reviewed annually until the student leaves college.
We prepare students for adult life with programmes that include work experience, personal & social education and transition to the world of work, further training or university. The next steps for our college leavers are discussed and planned at Annual Reviews and at transition meetings involving the young person, their tutor and family/carers, careers advisors/transition workers from the home local authority, and appropriate professionals from health/social care services. We support the young person to make informed choices about their next steps which can be into a wide range of options including university, work, apprenticeships or further training, supported employment, voluntary work, internships, supported living.
We carefully assess, monitor and review each individual’s needs and allocate resources so that students have full access to the curriculum.
We conduct ongoing detailed assessments and reviews of student needs. Parents/carers and students are involved in discussions as part of the Annual Review process.
Parents/carers are formally involved in decision making related to the young person at the Annual Review. In addition, they can contact us directly and have ongoing dialogue with tutors and key workers about academic and social-emotional development. We have parent/carer governors and parent/carer consultation meetings. We hold an annual survey for parents/carers. There is a termly newsletter from school and college produced by the students and teachers. In addition, we use social media and our website to regularly update parents/carers about key events and news.
Our Heads of School, College and Care are easily accessible for you to contact. If you are prospective parents and want an initial conversation about your child’s/young person’s needs and the type of provision we offer, then you can contact our Admissions Team and ask to speak to our Admissions Administrator, Cath Watson who is responsible for all initial admission enquiries for School and College students. She will then discuss the enquiry with key staff and arrange a visit if appropriate. Please contact Cath directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01392 267029.
We always encourage prospective parents/carers and students to visit us either on one of our frequently held Open Days or, on a bespoke visit when you can meet our learners, staff, visit classrooms and our residential accommodation. There will also be the opportunity to discuss your child’s/young person’s interests and needs. If you would like to place your young person with us, then an assessment visit will be arranged to ensure we can fully meet their needs.