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Exploring best practice with similar schools in a global context, in teaching and learning, curriculum development, transition pathways for pupils with mental health issues
Start date: 01 Jun 2016, End date: 31 May 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Newcastle Bridges School is a multi-site Foundation Special School (formerly a Community Special School incorporating hospital education) for 170 pupils. The school was founded in September 2002, previously the constituent parts had been centrally held services of the LocalEducation Authority. The school consists of nine sites. We provide education for the age range 2yrs to 19yrs.Head Office / Benfield site; provides education for vulnerable and anxious pupils and Pregnant or school aged mothers. There is also a nursery provision for the children of the school aged mothers.Ferndene; In-patient psychiatric hospitalAlnwood; Medium secure unit Great North Childrens Hospital; where we provide education for long term pupils receiving treatment.Freeman Hospital; providing education for pupils on the cardiothoracic wardCNDS (Complex neurodevelopmental disorders unit) based at Walkergate HospitalAnother private Nursery based in the West of Newcastle serving the local community.Communtiy Teaching as outreach education for pupils referred to NBS from a medical consultant as they are unable to access their mainstream school.We specialise in Hospital teaching and adolescent mental health. Our pupils present with a variety of needs both relating to their physical, social, emotional and mental well-being. We provide education for the young people within our settings and design broad and balanced curriculum packages tailored to their individual needs. Our teachers and support staff are highly skilled and are continually seeking professional development opportunities to enhance their skills and keep them up to date with changes in educational practices. We work alongside multi-disciplinary teams on a daily basis, in particular within our hospital settings.There is limited knowledge in relation to the best practice educational provision for pupils with mental health issues. NBS is a very specialised and unique provision and we would welcome the opportunity to work with similar schools internationally to share our experiences, develop teaching and learning, curriculum development and transition pathways for our pupils. Although we work with many different agencies and schools within the UK, the project would allow us to further develop our own practice and thus further support our pupils in providing the best possible life chances and outcomes for them. There are three aspects to our project.Firstlt, we would like to select and attend courses throughout Europe to obtain knowledge and skills which we would otherwise not obtain as courses like these are not readily available in the UK. These courses would provide a way for us to establish a network with European colleagues, who experience the same challenges that we do on a daily basis.Secondly, we would like to visit other schools and job shadow to increase our skills in teaching and learning, curriculum development and transition pathways. We have found a partner school, Linn Dara in Ireland and are investigating other partner schools through etwinning. We chose these partners as they are similar provisions to ourselves. Our objectives are to establish best practice, collaboratively work together to look at curriculum developments, teaching and learning and transition pathways. We would also evaluate the impact of the methodologies that we observe and then implement these within our teaching and practice at our school. We would also like to improve communication between the teams within our schools and further develop joint working practices to include the many different agencies that we work with. To achieve these objectives we would like to spend a total of 30 days in our partner school. This would enable us to job shadow our colleagues, observe and discuss best practice. We will create an evidence portfolio to support our visit where we monitor, evaluate and assess the impact of our visits and information gained to further develop staff. Thirdly, we would like to attend the HOPE conference for both years of the project to meet other colleagues and raise awareness of our own school internationally, therefore affording further opportunities for professional development for colleagues. This project will impact significantly on the educational provision for the pupils at Newcastle Bridges School. The pupils will benefit from new ideas and methodologies, new curriculum developments and better transition pathways. This will also develop our staff to understand the challenges that we all face working in an unique and specialised field of education.
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