September has come and gone and we are all now settled back into the routines of school life. The children and young people here at school are working well and enjoying being back in each other’s company once again.
It is really good to observe them during second break and lunchtime when they are either outside in the garden or out in the park playing team based games and enjoying being together. These are the times when they can be themselves and it is good to reflect on how far so many of them have come in their day to day social interactions with their peers over the past few years. The co-operation and tolerance they demonstrate today were not there 3 years ago and it is a testament to the effectiveness of the teaching and therapy programmes that they have engaged with over this period and the day to day work of all the staff, that they can play together for 30 minutes with only the very occasional falling out.
During the Summer holiday we learnt of the successes of some of our children in their exams. I would like to congratulate them and say how proud we all are of their achievements.
- Louis gained an A in AS Level Maths and a B in AS Level Physics and is now continuing his studies towards the full A level at Stamford College.
- Ricardo gained a GCSE Level 5 in both his Maths and Physics GCSEs. He also gained Functional Skills Level 2 in English and is now working between ourselves and Peterborough Regional College on a transition programme that will see him fully transfer to the College later this academic year.
- Julie, Ricardo and Josh N each gained GCSE Level 3 in Art and Design, the first time we have ever offered this course here at PHS
- Harry, Lucy, Thomas, Tyler, Kieran, Archie, Josh N. and Josh B. all successfully completed the ASDAN accredited courses they were studying and having achieved these will shortly receive their certificates.
Most of our children are working on nationally accredited ASDAN courses. These can be subject specific, for example PHSE or English, or have a broader purpose such as the Towards Independence: Independent Living Skills course. As our children get older and become better regulated through the work they undertake in the therapeutic elements of their individualised curriculum, some are able to begin work on more formal national qualifications such as Functional Skills and GCSE. For us as a school there is no time constraint as to when a child takes these examinations. They take them when they have covered the course work and when they and we are confident in their ability to do so without becoming overly anxious or stressed.
The great joy of working in an Independent School such as ours is that we are not dependent upon league tables of results for set exams at set times and ages. We have the freedom to determine what academic pathway is right for each child and we have the flexibility to tailor the way we work to each individual, monitoring how each child is responding and changing our approach and expectations as they change, develop and mature.
Almost all our children will be able to go onto further education of some sort at a college after Park House. The qualifications they attain and the level they attain them at, will determine what courses they can take. That is why, as our children get older and become more able to manage higher academic expectations, for some, their curriculum becomes more academically based in the core areas of English Maths and Science. Their emotional, physical and sensory regulation continues to be paramount and continues to be worked on within sessions such as Zones of Regulation, Social Skills, Life Skills and specific 1 to 1 sessions with therapists, but we would be failing in our duty to your child if we were not equipping them with the key qualifications at the highest level they can achieve, whenever this is possible. In order to give a child, or, as they will then be, an adult, entering college as wide a choice as possible, ideally they need what are termed Level 2 qualifications. These are GCSE or their equivalent at Grades 4 and above in English, Maths and a science subject.
Many of our children are now well into courses that will lead to academic qualifications before they leave Park House School. Two are into the second year of GCSE Maths and Science courses and 2 have this term begun to work towards GCSE English. A significant number of children are working towards Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths. Functional Skills Level 1 is the equivalent of a GCSE Grades 1 – 3 and Functional Skills Level 2 is the equivalent of GCSE grades 4 – 5. For young people with a diagnosis of autism Functional Skills English is a more appropriate course, as it does not require the interpretative skills that GCSE does and is more suited to their way of thinking and seeing the world.
I do not believe in putting children and young people under pressure to achieve more than they can, but I do believe that we should prepare them for their futures by giving them every possible opportunity to achieve at the highest level they can.
Friends of Park House Summer BBQ
It was wonderful to see so many people here with us on the last day of term, sharing the good weather and the fun at the annual Barbecue and Summer Fete. As always the stalls were busy and the sponge throwing a great attraction. In all we made £253 profit, which, along with the £392 from the Park Farm weekend, makes us £255 short of the £900 required for the new trampoline.
Over the last 2 years or so, the fundraising led by the Friends group has raised enough money to buy a trike, a tandem, the go-kart and the basket swing, which is now installed and in use every day. Thank you to everyone, staff, parents, children and members of the public who have helped us to achieve these things and to improve the provision we have here at PHS for our children.
I will be retiring at the end of this academic year. I have greatly enjoyed my time as Principal of Park House since taking over in January 2017. Initially, when I first took over from Jane, it was to be for an interim 18 month period to give the Directors time and space to consider how to recruit a new Principal. I asked for an extension to this period as there were many things I wanted to do, and whilst some have been achieved, others are on the way to being achieved and there are some that will never be achieved because they are no longer relevant, I know that now is the time for me to pass on this responsibility to a new face. I will be 64 by the time I retire and my garden is calling!
The Directors of the school have known of my intention to leave at the end of this year since June and have everything in place to begin the recruitment process for a new Principal, to take up post in September 2020. I am sure that they will keep you informed of progress over the coming months.