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The Gatwick School


The Gatwick School – celebrating inclusion at the start of the school year.

The Gatwick School is an all through school in Crawley for children aged 4-16. The school opened in September 2014. The focus of this celebration is on the secondary phase of the school and the work done to support students’ return to school in September. The school supported students to manage the extra layers of anxiety caused by the COVID-19 lockdown earlier in the year. They were able to find different way of working in school under COVID-19 protocols.

Good practice explained

An extensive emotional well-being programme was at the heart of the school’s focus. In the film you will hear how this had a significant impact on all pupils including the most vulnerable. The school are proud of their work. They now have a clear vision to roll out their emotional well-being support with an emphasis on giving students the tools and strategies to manage their own mental health. Students will learn to develop their own independent self-regulation strategies. The school have learned much from their experience and the strategies they have used will continue to benefit pupils who experience anxiety at times of change.

Hear the Gatwick School story:

Video 1

Video 2

Further details of strategies and resources used

Wellbeing Walks

Wellbeing walks are an hour long walk once a week, for eight weeks, through local green space. Groups size is between 5-8 students who have been selected based on needs and similar outcomes. The current three groups focus on the following areas:

  • Group one – Friendship and social communication
  • Group two – Emotional check-in and mental health
  • Group three – ADHD and hyperactivity

At the start of the walk, the school set challenges. For example, “Tell a friend how you managed in a situation that made you angry”. Or “find something new out about your partner”. Throughout the walk, the two facilitators move between the pairs to support these conversations. At the halfway point the group stop for a drink and snack. The group reflect on the conversation and what they have learnt from one another. On the way back, students are free to socialise as they wish. This helps to build friendships and create support networks.

“When is our next walk Miss? I really like them, it helps me get so much off my chest.”

Student comment on a recent walk

School newsletter

The Gatwick School supports parents enable them to better support their children’s mental wellbeing skills.

Newsletter picture
In the newsletter parents and carers were introduced to the programme called the ’10 Rocks of Well-being’ which develop daily habits to support good mental and physical health

Literacy reading list for Emotional Literacy Support Assistants work

Students are supported to explore issues through a range of fiction and non fiction books.

Visual timeline shared on school website to keep parents and students informed for return to school and support available.

Applying the Recovery Curriculum

  • The school drew from the work of Barry Carpenter’s Recovery Curriculum and developed their curriculum in line with his work. This was launched at a whole school staff INSET day training at the start of the new academic year. See downloads.

Using West Sussex County Council return to school and emotional wellbeing resources

The school used a range of resources produced by WSCC including the educational psychology service return to school guidance .

‘Soft Start’ described in video 2

This consisted of onsite visits to familiarise students with the new school layout. This included the one way system, sanitiser stations, new form rooms. There was also a staggered transition back for different year groups e.g. year 7 had 1 full day induction with their house guardians (form tutors) and then year 11 joined – this continued for 1 week slowly introducing a year group at a time until all were onsite by the Friday. 

Students who are particularly vulnerable have key workers and/or Nurture form – this means the school is open to those students from 8:15 to go to the SEND Base. They can check their locker timetable which is in the SEND Base and meet with their key worker. The key worker also has some slots which can be pre booked for the most vulnerable and EBSA students. The student can also have a snack, get a verbal and visual run down of the day and are pre-warned of any changes.  Nurture form starts at 8:30am and is a smaller House Group with 2 members of teaching staff and teaching assistants who again, break down the day/week and any changes, deal with worries and generally get the students ready to start learning.

Top tips from The Gatwick School for other schools

Communication – keep parents informed – the timeline really helped to reassure staff and parents of the next steps and that our ‘lockdown exit’ had been planned and we had a ‘map’ to get students back into school in a way that was sensitive to their needs. 

Connect – find opportunities to connect. – The newsletter, challenges, recovery curriculum, wellness walks all allowed staff and students to get to know each other and opened up more understanding to each persons’ ‘narrative’ around lockdown and general school experiences.

Continue – COVID-19 guidance doesn’t mean an end to interventions. It has actually helped us to work around issues and be more inventive.  We had always wanted to do something offsite and with the local area but until this term had always found excuses to remain on site.  With being unable to do some of our other mentoring work, Wellness Walks became an essential way to connect and build resilience and so we found a way to make it happen.  Even when lockdown ends, we won’t go back and instead will continue to add to our provisions.

Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

We can see clear links to two areas of the inclusion framework

1.6 Transitions

3.1 Social Emotional Wellbeing and Self Awareness

The school has a social and emotional wellbeing policy in place that  impacts positively across the school. This policy includes supporting the wellbeing of staff and consideration of their workload.

The setting has activities that are well organised, structured and planned for. Where possible, advanced warning is given, to both CYP and parent, of any changes to familiar routines in a meaningful and helpful way, particularly to those with neuro diverse needs.

Strategies to support CYP’s social and emotional needs, including those derived from a therapeutic thinking approach, are embedded within the classroom and used consistently across the school. CYP see these tools and structures as useful and purposeful tools. CYP’s needs are met such that they can remain in the classroom and learn effectively.

  • Staff do not assume CYP understand the language of emotions so use scaffolds to support their understanding and use language that supports co-regulation.
  • Staff understand the link between emotional regulation and readiness to learn and refer to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) when concerns arise.
  • A range of holistic assessment tools are used effectively to support CYP. These highlight strengths, progress and areas for development and action plans outline activities and ideas to develop skills. See SEND Toolkit for examples.
  • Social and emotional health and well-being of all CYP is monitored, and interventions are put into place to support CYP to develop their social and emotional needs. Outcomes are shared with parents.

Last updated 24 November 2022

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