About

About

Answers to the most frequently asked questions can be found on this page and we hope that you will be able to find the information that you are looking for. Please take a look around our site to get a sense of what school life is like at The Observatory School.

We look forward to welcoming you and you child if you have been referred by the Local Authority.  Moving school can be a daunting task so please take time to read below the plans we have in place to assist with this.

If you have further questions or would like to visit the school please get in touch on  Tel: 0151 652 7093 or email us  schooloffice@theobservatoryschool.wirral.sch.uk. In the meantime if you require the full information on The Observatory School in the form of a printable document you can download it by clicking the link below.

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Basic information about the school:

The Observatory School is a mixed 11-16 community specialist provision for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH).

The Observatory School has places for 55 pupils.

The Local Authority refers pupils to SEMH schools such as ours. If your child is a boy, you can say which school you prefer between the two available SEMH secondary schools in Wirral. If your child is a girl then The Observatory School is the only available provision in Wirral.

To help you understand what the school offers, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions below. We have also included the names and contact details of staff if you have any further questions.

All pupils will have been identified as having SEMH. Many children have other Special Educational Needs. We list here some of the conditions which may pupils have, and which we cater for:

Meeting Extra Requirements

  • Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Irlen Syndrome
  • Tourette Syndrome

What makes The Observatory School a better choice for my child?

The Observatory School is a special school with places for 50 pupils, all of whom experience Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH). We differ from other schools in that we provide a more varied and higher level of support all under on roof.

Like mainstream secondary schools we have a teacher leading on each curriculum area and children will study towards GCSEs and other qualifications tailored to each individual pupil.

One of the biggest advantages we offer pupils with SEMH in their development is our specialist knowledge of ‘Team Teach’ techniques which de-escalate and distract from negative behaviour. Alongside this we have an on-site team dedicated to any Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs pupils may face. This level of support does not exist in mainstream schools. Class sizes are also much smaller in order to provide additional support to our pupils.

In practical terms this means that pupils are supported with their social and emotional development throughout the school day, through curriculum and extra-curricular activities. Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is integral to our curriculum and to the ethos of our school.

Do you accept boys and girls?

Yes.

How can you help?

All children accepted into our school are referred by the Local Authority and will have been recognised as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH). There may also be other special educational needs that we are best placed to help with, there is a list below. In addition we place an emphasis on helping parents to understand and learn how they can best help their child develop their education and behaviour.

What special educational needs can you cater for?

All children will have been identified as having SEMH. Many children have other Special Educational Needs. We list here some of the conditions which pupils have, this is not an exhaustive list so get in touch if you have a specific query.

  • Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Irlen Syndrome
  • Tourette Syndrome

What specialist staff will support my child?

Staff at The Observatory School provide a quality service to parents and a great experience for pupils. Staff are on hand to assist with every aspect of you child's education these include:

  • Subject Specialist Teachers
  • Highly trained Teaching Assistant in every class
  • Pastoral Manager and assistant to attend to general wellbeing of pupils and families
  • Two Learning Mentors
  • CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Support) Consultant
  • SALT (Speech and Language Therapy) Therapist
  • Educational Psychologists

Examples of the kind of support the team gives:

  • One to one support from the Learning Mentor
  • Additional literacy support
  • SEN-based intervention

Are there other specialist services?

The Observatory School team and supporting external providers offer a number of services for pupils, these include:

  • Attendance management
  • Travel training
  • School Nurse
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Counselling
  • Bully-busting advice
  • MST (Multi Systemic Therapy)
  • Career advice and support
  • New Horizons project supporting children beyond year 11
  • Health Services In Schools Youth Worker

The wellbeing of our pupils is at the heart of everything we do at The Observatory School; we also actively work with agencies such as Wirral Children’s Services and Wirral Safeguarding Children Board to ensure the safety and protection of all children in our setting.

What is the building Like and is it accessible?

Our school environment is designed to be therapeutic and calming. There are a number of quiet spaces around the building which are adapted to the needs of our pupils. We are continually adapting our school environment to the developing needs of our pupils.

All classrooms have disabled access by way of a ramp through an external door; however wheelchair users would have to travel around the outside of the building to get into some classrooms. All equipment used is accessible to all children regardless of their needs. Our extra-curricular activities are designed so that all of our pupils can take part.

What educational results do you achieve?

The Observatory School was judged by OFSTED as a good school with outstanding features in November 2012. Our school has gone from strength to strength since that visit. We firmly believe that we achieve the very best educational outcomes for our pupils and our GCSE results are outstanding.

How will The Observatory School support any unique needs my child has?

If your child still needs extra assistance and support we will make alternative arrangements within the school.

How will you prepare my child to join your school?

Transition to The Observatory School starts with the initial visits you make with your child. These visits give you the opportunity to ask all the questions you may have.

We advise that you visit our school without your child on at least one occasion so you can take time to ask questions you may perhaps feel unable to with your child present.
If your child is joining us from their primary school then we have dedicated days and events for your child to meet all the staff and other members of their new class. We find this normally alleviates most of the worries pupils may have. We also have events for new parents to meet existing parents and staff.

If your child is joining us from another secondary provision, we will liaise with their current school to gather as much information as possible. Our Pastoral Manager will make contact with you and arrange to meet with you and answer any questions you may initially have. We always start pupils who join us from another secondary provision on an interim programme of a half day timetable to ensure they settle well and are not overwhelmed.

What happens in the first few days at school?

When a pupil joins our school, support is provided by our Pastoral Team as well as your child’s Form Tutor and Form Teaching Assistant. When joining The Observatory School, every pupil is assessed using a range of diagnostic tests (e.g. reading and spelling) to determine attainment. We also assess every pupil for Irlen Syndrome. The results of all these tests are analysed by our school SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) who then prepares a set of recommendations for the staff team. These recommendations help the staff to design the personalised curriculum and the appropriate exams or courses your child will take part in. We consult you and your child throughout this proce

What is the school’s approach to teaching and learning?

We have a team of outstanding teachers, who each lead on a specialist area of the curriculum. Our aim to ensure pupils will be able to continue with their education when they leave us after year 11.

How will the curriculum meet the needs of my child?

The curriculum and our approach will vary depending on the approach best suited to your child. The subjects taught are rich and varied, and will be tailored to the needs of each individual pupil. The SENCo recommendations help the staff to design the personalised curriculum and the appropriate exams or courses your child will take part in. We consult you and your child throughout this process.

How do you monitor my child’s progress and keep me informed?

Your child’s Form Teaching Assistant will keep you updated with information about how your child is doing. You may also be invited to meet with them if something special or significant has happened regarding their education or behaviour.

There is also a termly review and report of your child’s progress in all curriculum areas. The teaching team will not only contact you when things go wrong, if there has been a breakthrough or there is something exciting to share about your child’s performance we will also be in touch.

What if there are concerns about my child’s progress?

Please be assured that if we are concerned about any area of your child’s development or progress at school – you will be contacted and kept informed. If you are unable to attend meetings in school our staff team are able to visit you at home or at another location by arrangement.If you have a concern about the information your child’s TA is sharing, this should be addressed with your child’s Form Tutor. The Form Tutor and Form TA work closely with each other. If you feel the concern is not addressed, you should contact the Deputy Headteacher in the first instance.

Are there extracurricular activities?

Yes, extracurricular activities are an important part of our school day. Pupils have the opportunity to participate in many different activities throughout the week including Cookery, Art, Music, Sports and Engineering. Our clubs change on a termly basis in order to offer as much choice as possible.

Pupils thoroughly enjoy engaging in learning outside the classroom. Activities are often planned offsite. This can be locally, nationally or even internationally based. A number of our pupils over the last two years have been to Paris, Madrid and Belgium on cultural expeditions.

Links with local industry provide our pupils with real life experiences and introduce them to possible future careers and training. Pupils participate in work experience placements which are in line with their aspirations for the future. This enthuses and engages our pupils, preparing them for life after leaving The Observatory School.

How do you maintain teaching and SEN standards?

The Observatory School is committed to continuous professional development for all staff to improve the teaching and learning for pupils. This includes whole school training on issues such as ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and SALT (Speech and Language Therapy). Individual teachers and support staff are encouraged to attend training courses delivered by outside agencies that are relevant to the needs of specific children in their class. Staff at our school have attended international training events and some have even delivered lessons in Thailand and various European countries.

How will you help me support my child?

The school is committed to the overall welfare of our pupils and we recognise the crucial role that parents and carers play. We have a number of dedicated professionals in the team who provide tailored support where and when it is needed. We are here to listen and advise you with any concerns you may have. If for any reason our staff cannot meet the specific level of support you require, we will help you secure it. This is part of our approach to helping you help your child.

What support will there be for my child’s overall wellbeing?

The welfare of all of our pupils is taken very seriously at The Observatory School.
We are an inclusive school; we welcome and celebrate diversity. All of our staff believe that healthy self-esteem is crucial to a child’s well-being. We have a caring and understanding team to look after all of our pupils.

The Form Tutor has overall responsibility for our pastoral, medical and social care of every pupil in their class, therefore this should be your first point of contact. If further support is needed, the Form Tutor will liaise with the SENCo and/or the Pastoral Manager for further advice and support. This may include working alongside other agencies.

How do you manage any medication or emergency medical situations?

The Observatory School operates a policy for the administration and management of medicines on school site. All staff have regular training and updates regarding medical conditions and related medication to ensure that staff are able to manage situations for individual pupils.

Our staff are “First Aid at Work” trained every 3 years and a significant number of our staff have received training in the use of a defibrillator. The school has a defibrillator on site.

Do you help with diet and nutrition?

Breakfast is provided for every pupil each morning ensuring a healthy start to the day. Pupils also have constant access to fruit and water throughout the school day. All school dinners are cooked fresh to order.

Do pupils have their say?

Our school council ensures that pupils voices and opinions are clearly heard. Pupil voice forms part of our school monitoring processes.

How do you manage behaviour and absence?

Staff are vigilant to pupil wellbeing; any concerns are recorded on the school’s computerised behaviour programme ‘Sleuth’. A daily forecast is used to monitor those concerns and appropriate supportive action is taken as necessary. We closely monitor attendance and take any necessary actions to prevent prolonged unauthorised absence.

How will you prepare and support my child in their transfer to a new setting or next stage or education/life?

Rigorous planning and preparation goes into preventing your child from becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). We commission specialist services to provide one to one support for all pupils to help them with the application process and procedures and to accompany them to college and training open days and events.

Our ‘Boomerang’ project gives all Year 11 leavers a dedicated phone line to call for help or advice at any time during school opening times. Once a term we hold an onsite meeting event for leavers to catch up with us and each other! The Pastoral Team keep in touch long after our pupils leave us, ensuring they stay on track.

What shall I do if I want to raise a problem?

Any concerns you have about your child’s provision should be directed to their Form Tutor in the first instance. If this is not appropriate, you can contact the Deputy Headteacher who will arrange to meet you at the earliest opportunity. If you are still not satisfied or the concern is of a nature which cannot be resolved by the informal procedure then the school will notify you what will happen next.

The school complaints policy is available on our website for your information.

Who can I contact for further information?

Special Educational Needs / Interventions - Our school SENCo: Mr G. Chiswell

Transition / Support and Guidance - Our Pastoral Manager: Mrs A Baird
abaird@theobservatoryschool.wirral.sch.uk

Curriculum / Teaching and Learning - Our Curriculum Assistant Headteacher: Miss S. Gower
sgower@theobservatoryschool.wirral.sch.uk

School Privacy Policy

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School Ethos / Strategy and Overview - Our Acting Headteacher: Mr G Chiswell
gchiswell@theobservatoryschool.wirral.sch.uk

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