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 Our School at a glance…

  • Co-educational
  • Day, 38 and 52 week Specialist Provision Residential School
  • 5-19 Years
  • Kirkby Lonsdale, Carnforth Lancashire LA6 2DZ
  • 01524 271 569
  • info@underleygarden.org


An Introduction to Underley Garden School


Underley Garden School is a co-educational Independent Special School for young people between the ages of 5-19. The school is registered for up to 72 pupils. Young people are admitted as day or residential pupils. The school is co-located with a children’s home which is registered for up to 48 young people aged 5-19. Currently places in the home are on a 38 or 52 week basis.. Underley Garden School caters for young people with needs arising from Autism Spectrum Condition, Learning Difficulties/Disabilities and Mental Health needs. We admit young people across a broad cognitive profile ranging from those at an early developmental stage up to those who may follow entry level/ GCSE programmes.

Young people are referred to Underley Garden School because the complexity of their needs cannot be met in other provisions. They may be displaying challenging behaviour due to the mismatch of provision to need or struggling to sustain attendance in lessons or school because of the environment or curriculum. Typically they may be making poor or limited progress. Sometimes they may be exhibiting anxiety or distress.

Referrals are received from local authority education and social care departments and from health authorities (for examples CAMHS). Parents can of course contact us directly for a without prejudice view on potential for a placement. Once we receive referral papers for a young person, these are reviewed by the Senior Leadership Team and our multidisciplinary health and therapy team to ensure that we can meet the needs of the young person, then with permission, proceed to meet the young person and parents are invited to visit the school. Only when we are sure we can meet the young person’s needs and a placement is possible will we ask the young person to visit.

How does the school know when a young person needs extra help?

The young person’s academic progress, together with their progress made against the outcomes of their Education, Health and Care Plan, is reviewed regularly through a system of progress meetings involving key staff . The focus of these meetings is to ensure that progress is at the expected rate and that expectations are challenging but realistic. Where young people are not making expected progress staff work together to design, implement and evaluate interventions to remedy the situation. The school will communicate with parents about interventions, and will work alongside parents to enable them to support learning at home.

The principles underpinning our approach reflect those described in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice which are designed to support:

  • The participation of children, their parents and young people in decision making
  • The early identification of children and young people’s needs and early intervention to support them
  • Greater choice and control for young people and parents over support
  • Collaboration between, education, health and social care services to provide support
  • High quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people with SEN


How will the school staff support my young person?


All young people at Underley Garden School have an Education, Health and Care Plan. These documents outline the needs of your child and recommend the provision, resources, approaches and multi-agency involvement required to meet those needs. The outcomes of the Education, Health and Care Plan are broken down into smaller targets and worked on through our Joint target system we have in place, working closely with parents, carers and our therapy team. Targets are set and the progress made is reviewed and reported to parents and young people each term. All staff who teach your child are working on enabling your child to meet their joint targets. We use continual teacher assessment to identify how well students are making progress academically and in terms of identified needs. We use this information to tailor learning to work on any areas that need to be developed.

At Underley Garden School we work closely with our own multi-disciplinary team which consists of Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Educational Psychologists, Learning Disability and General Nurses, consultant psychiatrist and clinical psychologist and SENCO as well as healthcare practitioners to ensure that all of the needs that are outlined in the Education, Health and Care Plan are met.

Young people who are resident in the children’s home have a care plan which identifies their developmental needs and how these are to be met. These plans are informed by all relevant assessments, the Education, Health and Care Plans are drawn up in consultation with the young person, their parents and social worker.

Young people have daily contact with their Form Tutor and dedicated team of assistants, the Form Tutor is usually the first point of contact for parents for school through emails, phone conversations or meetings.

Underley Garden School works with our parent organisation and our regulators to ensure that the standards of education and care are as high as we can make them. The school is subject to a rigorous system of governance through the parent organisation, Options Autism. Underley Garden School was graded as Outstanding in January 2018. The children’s home was given an Outstanding OFSTED judgement in June 2018.

Young people at Underley Garden make good progress over time and the majority leave school with a range of qualifications and accreditations including GCSEs, Functional Skills, Entry level exams and Open Awards.

How will the curriculum be matched to my young person’s needs?


All young people at Underley Garden School have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. We follow the curriculum regulations as laid down in the Independent Schools Standards. Whilst our curriculum is informed by the national curriculum it also has flexibility to meet the needs of individual young people.

The curriculum at Underley Garden School aims to help young people develop positive feelings of self-worth and confidence. We provide an inclusive, broad and balanced curriculum which includes a focus on independent living skills. We devise individual approaches and interventions, in response to the curriculum, to match pupil’s diverse learning needs, interests and strengths. For example, where a young persons needs arise from an Autistic Spectrum Condition, there will be significant focus on the development of their communication, the development of appropriate and functionally useful social behaviour and attention to their sensory processing needs.

We teach young people to have an awareness of their own spiritual development, understand right from wrong and have an appreciation of British values and the society they live in.

Our class sizes range from between 2 to 8 and have a high level of staffing appropriate to meet the needs of the young people in the class. Our practice at Underley Garden School is to ensure the curriculum and its delivery meets the individual needs of the young people. We aim to reduce and remove behaviour that causes barriers to learning by using positive and supportive approaches to actively engage young people in the learning process.


How will both you and I know how my young person is doing and how will you help me to support my young person’s learning?


Teaching and learning at Underley Garden School is informed by the young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan, which drives our long and short term planning for their education development. We report to you on progress through annual reviews, termly reports and by informal updates in between these times. There is a formal termly parents meeting to discuss progress and attainment and the targets set for the following term.

The school has a comprehensive system for recording data to monitor progress. We use this to determine whether our targets for the young people are challenging and appropriate and whether they are making expected progress in line with or better than national expectations. In the termly school report you will be given data to show the level and rate of progress for your child.

The school will work with parents to share approaches in all aspects of the child’s learning. This may be to share approaches to learning or behaviour, language development and communication, sensory needs or to manage emotional and physical well-being. We do this through our general communication with you, through parent workshops or by individual consultation at school with teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, educational psychologists or the school nurses.

If at any point you have concerns about your child’s progress or well-being, please contact us immediately.

What support will there be for my young person’s overall well-being?

We are committed to multi agency working to ensure that the needs of our young people are

met. Our work with other agencies is frequent, sustained and responsive to student and family needs.

We take safeguarding very seriously. This is reflected in our systems, approaches and training. The children’s home and the school each have their own separate Designated Safeguarding Leader.

The support structure for young people’s well-being operates at several levels:

  • The curriculum and how this is delivered has been carefully planned to promote success and feelings of positive worth and self-esteem.
  • The ethos of the school is positive with clear boundaries and expectations in place so that everyone feels safe.
  • Every class has a team of dedicated teaching assistants whose job includes a responsibility for monitoring and intervening where needed to support young people’s physical and emotional well being
  • Where a young person has needs that require specialist intervention this can be delivered by the in house health and therapy team
  • The Senior Management Team and clinical consultants meet on a regular basis to review individual young people and their needs through a clinical review meeting.

The young person’s voice is important to us and listened to through a range of formal and informal processes. We talk to young people about their preferred learning styles and subject choices. Where young people have significant difficulties around communication, the Speech and Language Therapy team work with young people and their staff to ensure that there are augmentative or alternative communication systems in place for them to express their views, needs, preferences and opinions. We engage and consult with young people about all aspects of their planning and the targets they are working towards. We encourage young people to participate fully in the decisions that affect their everyday life in the short and longer term. We do this in school through the school council and form group meetings. In the home there are regular house group meetings and one to one keyworker meetings.



What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?

The following professionals work on the site alongside the education and care teams:

  • Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Educational Psychologists
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
  • General Registered Nurse
  • Learning Disability Nurse Consultant
  • Learning Disability Nurse
  • School GP

We will engage other professionals to work with us on a consultancy basis if we or the placing authority identifies a need.

We also work closely with other agencies and professionals to meet young people’s needs:

  • Social Workers
  • Reviewing officer
  • Local Authority Education Officers and Psychologists
  • Paediatricians
  • Advocates


What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEND had or are having?

All of our qualified teachers hold degrees and many have postgraduate qualifications. All our unqualified teachers undertake professional development to move them to qualified status. Many of our teaching assistants are also graduates. All of our staff undertake specialist training and development related to their role. All staff follow an induction program when they join Underley Garden.

  • All care staff achieve or are working towards Level 3 diploma, with some at or working towards Level 4 or 5
  • Teaching assistants have the opportunity to gain a Learning Support Qualification at Level 2 or Level 3
  • All staff receive Level 2 safeguarding training
  • All staff are trained in a behaviour support and physical intervention system called Team Teach at an appropriate level
  • There is an on-going training programme for staff. Dependent on staff job role areas covered in the past three years have been; First Aid, Advanced First Aid, Medication Administration, Epilepsy Awareness, Diabetes Awareness training, Fire Safety training, Fire Marshall Training, Basic Food Hygiene, Manual Handling, Makaton Training, PECS Training, Positive Approaches to Supporting People with ASC, Equality /Diversity, Self Harm Awareness, Intro into Child & Adolescent Mental Health (Psychosis), Attachment and Trauma and solution focussed training.

The school team has regular staff training meetings that focus on effective teaching and learning strategies. We invite professionals such as Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists and Sensory Integration Specialists to these meetings.


How will my young person be included in the activities outside the classroom including school trips?

Educational visits are designed to enhance curricular opportunities for all of our young people. Educational visits are also designed to create opportunities for developing independence, communication and self-management skills, and to promote positive self-esteem. We have a rigorous health and safety risk assessment process which has been put in place by our parent organisation and which complies with government guidance (HASPEV) for all of our o site education and work placements. We also offer young people the opportunity to take part in a range of residential activities throughout their time at Underley Garden.


How accessible is the school environment?


The school and children’s home sits within a secluded and peaceful country estate half a mile from the public road in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The site is spacious and quiet, and as such, is a favourable environment for young people who have sensory needs. The number of people on site including young people is small in relation to the size of the site and buildings; this also helps reduce the ‘busyness’ of the environment.

Much of the site, although not all, is accessible for people with mobility needs.

We have disabled toilets and disabled parking available.

Where parents/carers do not have English as their first language appropriate support will be sought from the LA.

How will the school prepare and support my young person to join the school, transfer to college or the next stage of education and life?


We have a clear referral and admissions process.

Prior to admission, we will discuss with you your child’s induction programme. This is likely to begin before they start at school. There is no set process for this, as it is decided on individual needs.

An example of what an induction process would look like might be:

A look round the school and introduction to young people and staff

Visit from us to you and your child at home and school

Explanations of routines and school rules

Pre visits to spend time with peers

Photobooks to take away with you to help your child prepare

On arrival, buddying and support from a peer and/or member of staff

Regular meetings with a key member of staff over the first few days to see how things are going

During the initial few weeks of placement we undertake baseline assessments as well as referring to any existing assessments to develop your child’s educational programme.

Transition usually begins at Year 9 when we draw up a transition plan with your child and yourself. Other key professionals may have an input. The point of the plan is to identify possible destinations and how we can all work to support these. We have our own careers advisor who will be key in helping the young person. Through our sixth form curriculum we build links with local colleges, employers and training providers to help young people develop confidence and understanding through real experience of what life beyond school will be like. We specifically teach life, independence and vocational skills within the curriculum to support this. Typically, on leaving Underley Garden young people move on to a wide range of educational and care settings which have included supported living or adult care homes, local FE colleges, Independent Specialist Colleges and training providers. Underley Garden also has its own Adult Care Service for people 19 upwards, currently based on the campus as well as a community based family style provision in Grange-over-Sands.

How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to young people’s special educational needs?

The school is very well resourced. We allocate resources carefully to ensure best outcomes for our young people. This is reflected in:

  • Small class sizes
  • High levels of staff support
  • High level of support from in house specialist professionals and clinicians
  • Development of personalised learning planning
  • Use of interventions to develop a range of skills including maths and English and social and emotional skills All of our classes are provided with resources to ensure the delivery of a personalised curriculum.


How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child will receive?

Your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan identifies the level of support required to meet your child’s needs. This is agreed through discussion between the school and your Local Authority.

We plan provision to achieve the outcomes outlined in the Education, Health and Care Plan for each individual pupil.

How are parents involved in the school? How can I be involved?


At Underley Garden we believe in working in partnership with parents and carers to achieve the very best outcomes for young people. We communicate regularly with parents, through informal contact, parent consultation meetings, invitations to social events and Annual Reviews. We also communicate with parents and carers via termly reports. As well as this we invite parents in to school every term to discuss the contents of reports and the targets set for the following term.

As a school we welcome contact from parents and would encourage parents to contact us at any time if you have any questions or concerns.

Who can I contact for further information?

Please contact Chris Groom, Head of Service at:

Underley Garden School
Kirkby Lonsdale

T: 01524 271 569
E: info@underleygarden.org
W: www.underleygarden.org