Engaging Potential

Last updated: 24/04/2020

Closed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Engaging Potential is an independent school offering an alternative approach for disengaged young people. Our mission is to re-engage them with individual learning opportunities and positive life experiences through teaching and mentoring whilst promoting personal and social development.

Based in Newbury, we work with a mixed cohort of up to 14 students with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD)

Who to contact

Contact Name
Tracy Watson
01635 524113
07789 758 299 (emergency out of hours)
Engaging Potential

Local Offer

SEN Provision Type
Behavioural, Emotional & Social Difficulties
Local Offer Age Bands
12 to 14
15 to 16

Special Schools

1. Support for children with special educational needs
1.1: Who will oversee and plan my child's education programme?

We work with student, parents, carers, the local authority and any agencies involved to ensure the highest quality education is received.  All students at EP have bespoke timetables ensuring their individual needs are met. 

In addition to teaching and mentoring we source external organisations and individuals to support interests and needs. We recognise the importance of providing a wide and varied range of activities in order to foster continued engagement.

1.2: How will I be informed / consulted about the ways in which my child is being helped?

Reports are compiled twice a year with input from all staff members.  These monitor and assess progression in all areas and give and overall view of distance travelled by each individual.  

Consistent communication with parents/carers is ensured through meetings, emails, telephone and text contact.  We believe this to be paramount if the needs and abilities of the student are to be accurately identified and assessed and the most appropriate support provided.

In our experience, building good working relationships with parents and carers has been fundamental to working with our students.  It ensures all parties involved are clear on the steps that have been taken and on future direction.  Working with parents/carers also ensures that EP is kept informed of any developments at home that may impact on the young person.

In addition to this, you will be invited to attend a range of meetings such as Annual and Transition Reviews.

1.3: How will the school balance my child's need for support with developing their independence?

At Engaging Potential, each student has their own independent timetable. This allows us to directly address the needs of a student outlined in their EHC plan and through one to one mentoring sessions students are encouraged and supported to do things for themselves. Cooking, budgeting, paying bills, opening a bank account, travelling on public transport and social skills are just an example of areas that we work with students towards their self-management and independent living needs.

1.4: How will the school personalise the curriculum to meet my child's needs?

We ensure that all our students have access to a broad and balanced curriculum covering our contracted core subjects of English, Maths and ICT. All students are encouraged to sample Science, Humanities and Arts subjects through a variety of topic or project work, or can focus more fully on individual subjects if they prefer. There is accreditation available in every strand of curriculum work at whichever level is appropriate for the individual student.

1.5: What teaching strategies and approaches does the school use for children with learning difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech and language difficulties and physical disabilities?

A range of baseline and standardised assessments on entry, along with advice from relevant professionals, information from previous education providers and parents /carers and, most importantly, conversations instigated with the students themselves, helps to inform our initial approach to working with them. All staff are experienced in working with students with a range of learning difficulties and our expertise is shared across the whole team.

1.7: What equipment does the school provide?

For all activities equipment is provided. However, it may be that for a college course or work placement through Engaging Potential personal clothing items are required such as steel tip boots or gloves. In this case we may take the student shopping with their earnt incentive money (EPIC) and support to buy required items, as they would possibly have to do later on in life.

1.8: What special arrangements can be made for my child when taking examinations?

Access Arrangements are arranged in-house for any student that requires them. This covers all arrangements specified under the JCQ regulations.

2. My child's progress
2.1: How will the school monitor my child's progress and how will I be involved in this?

From an initial baseline assessment on entry, in Literacy, Numeracy and ICT, students are monitored at least twice yearly in two full subject and mentoring reports, which together give a full picture of progress both academically and socially/emotionally. Students are also encouraged to reflect on their own emotional development across the school year.

These reports are sent out to parents /carers, who are then encouraged to enter into a conversation with school staff about any concerns.

2.2: When my child's progress is being reviewed, how will new targets be set and how will I be involved?

At the Annual Review of the EHC Plan, which usually follows the sending out of the first school reports as well, targets are set and discussed with representatives of Engaging Potential staff, West Berkshire alongside other professionals involved with the young person, and of course parents/carers and the students themselves.

2.3: ln addition to the school's normal reporting arrangements, what opportunities will there be for me to discuss my child's progress with school staff?

We have an unerring commitment to building relationships with parents/carers who are able to contact the Head 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  Other staff are available between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday.  To make life as easy as possible for the young person and their parent/carer, home visits are undertaken as often as is necessary.

2.4: What arrangements does the school have for regular home to school contact?

Consistent communication with parents/carers is ensured through meetings, emails, telephone and text contact. 

2.5: How can I help support my child's learning?

We like to work with and communicate with parents and carers very closely. We share what is happening in school with parents and carers and like that what is happening at home is shared with us. This gives us the whole picture to be able to provide the best support and understanding of what a student may be going through or issues they are facing. Parents or carers giving a positive message to their child about school and stressing the importance of attending and engaging in their education is one of the most effective ways of them supporting their learning

2.6: Does the school offer any help for parents / carers to enable them to support their child's learning, eg. training or learning events?

In the same way we access individualised support for our students we would also extent this to parents/carers in order to support them, support the student

2.7: How will my child's views be sought about the help they are getting and the progress they are making?

Engaging Potential operates a one to one mentoring method of working. Each student has their own mentor who they can turn to for support with any event or issue not just school related. Students are encouraged to be open with their mentor and to discuss their progress at school, any obstacles to their learning and to try and verbalise how we can support and help more. We have an annual review for each student in which their views are sought, presented and addressed at the EHC review meeting. We are not dependent on an annual review and at any time that a student, parent or the school would like to discuss progress and support, we would call a meeting with the students’ needs being the focus.

2.8: What accredited and non accredited courses do you offer?

We currently offer a range of accredited GCSEs, Level 1 and 2 certificates, Functional Skills, Entry Level Certificates etc, alongside Arts Awards, Youth Achievement Awards, Unit Awards and ASDANS. We are constantly looking for accreditation routes that will suit the needs of our students.

2.9: How does the school assess the overall effectiveness of its provision and how can parents / carers and young people take part in this evaluation?

Our effectiveness is reviewed in a number of ways both externally and internally. We are regularly inspected by OFSTED, we work with a School Improvement Advisor, and we monitor student progress termly and annually.  Regular supervision is provided for all staff and progress is reviewed on a regular basis.  Supervision sessions include individual casework issues, safeguarding concerns, and professional practice issues linked to observation and support.

We encourage feedback at all times and formally seek this via annual surveys to parents/carers, students, partner organisations and staff.

3. Support for my child's overall well being
3.1: What support is available to promote the emotional, behavioural and social development of children?

Engaging Potential offers one to one mentoring support. A relationship of trust and openness is actively built allowing the mentor to understand the issues a student faces and how best they can support. We also timetable PSHEE sessions which together with a range of activities and experiences bespoke to the individual can allow the student to flourish and grow in a safe and friendly environment.  Although we work predominately one to one, we also appreciate the value of social interaction for students with people of their own age. Because of our sound understanding of a student’s needs, this work can be conducted in a careful and controlled way through small group work, shared lunch breaks, outings and trips.

3.2: What support does the school put in place for children who find it difficult to conform to normal behavioural expectations and how do you support children to avoid exclusion?

By having clear boundaries and expectations for students which are regularly discussed with all staff, students understand the role they need to play in engaging with the education and managing their behaviour. However, this is more difficult for some students so through supported reflection and consideration of how their behaviour affects themselves and those around them, ideas of how to avoid further occurrences are identified and plans put in place to implement them. Because each student has their own individual timetable, we are able to adjust this, to reflect where a student is with their education and attitude to learning, managing the risk of a student’s behaviour leading to an exclusion.

3.3: What medical support is available in the school?

We have staff members who are first aiders on site and off. We also work closely with the school nursing team and other professionals so that we can learn and adopt practises to best support specific medical needs. The school nursing team can also administer jabs and injections for the student inoculation programme.

3.4: How does the school manage the administration of medicines?

As above

3.5: How does the school provide help with personal care where this is needed, eg. help with toileting, eating etc ?

Throughout the referral process and beyond the student starting at Engaging Potential, we ensure that have a good knowledge and understanding of an individual’s needs and requirements. In this way we can adapt and adjust the way in which the student might be able to access a positive learning experience.  All staff approach difficulties of any nature with understanding and in a non-judgemental way.

4. Specialist services available / accessed by the school
4.1: What external SEN support services does the school use, e.g. educational psychologists, teachers for hearing impairment, visual impairment and multi sensory impairment etc?

We have a multi professional approach to meeting students’ needs in our individualised curriculum and timetable. Students have a team around them which will be made up of their parents/cares, teachers and mentors as well as additional supports such as a speech and language therapists, educational psychologists.

4.2: What specialist support services are available from within the school?

We work closely with students, families to ensure that there is access to specialist services where required and have access to a variety of professionals, for example art therapists, speech and language therapists.   

4.3: What should I do if I think my child needs support from one of these services?

You can speak to anyone on the team and we will follow this up for you.

4.4: How are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy services provided?

The approach would depend upon the individual needs, the student and how they would most benefit from the support, for example it might be 1:1 with the therapist, with the therapist and their mentor or it may be an approach the whole team adopt (with guidance) in their day to day provision

4.5: What should I do if I think my child needs to be seen by a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist or physiotherapist?

You can speak to anyone on the team and we will follow this up for you.

4.6: What arrangements does the school have for liaison with Children's Social Care services?

We work closely with Children Social Care depending upon the level of need and support  

5. Training of school staff
5.1: What SEND training is provided for teachers in your school?

All our staff are highly trained and skilled in supporting students with a wide range of needs. We have a comprehensive induction and CPD for all staff.

5.2: What SEND training is provided for teaching assistants and other staff in your school?

As above

5.3: Do teachers have any specific qualifications in SEND?

Teachers and Mentors who work at EP are all qualified and experienced and may have worked in either special needs settings or mainstream settings.

5.4: Do teaching assistants have any specific qualifications in SEND?

As above

6. Activities outside the classroom including school trips
6.1: How do you ensure that all children can be included in out of school activities and trips?

Through our one to one timetable we can ensure that all students are given the opportunity to engage in trips and activities off site locally and further afield. By experiencing these activities, students are learning about what is expected of them in their community and in society. We also encourage and support students to look at provision outside of school that they may join or enrol in for use in the evening and weekends. For small group trips and activities, the dynamics of the group is paramount to ensure safety and to minimise risks.

6.2: How do you involve parents / carers in planning the support required for their child to access activities and trips?

Through establishing good relationships and communication with parents and carers we can liaise over all matters concerning their child. In the event of trips and activities that may be more challenging to student, we would learn from parents or carers what has worked well with their child in the past and seek ideas as how best to help support their child through a particular activity or trip. This information contributes towards an individual experience for the student enabling them to have a positive learning opportunity.

7. Accessibility of the school environment
7.1: How accessible is the building for children with mobility difficulties / wheelchair users?

Progress House is accessible for students with mobility difficulties and wheelchair users.  Our building is over two levels and has a lift.

7.2: Have adaptations/improvements been made to the auditory and visual environment?

None to date have been required - we would seek additional support and advice as necessary

7.3: Are there disabled changing and toilet facilities?


7.4: How do you ensure that all the school's facilities can be accessed by all children irrespective of their SEND?

We take positive steps to ensure that all students can fully participate in the education provided by EP and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services that we provide for students

7.5: How does the school communicate with parents / carers who have a disability?

We are very much aware of the importance of keeping communication open with our parents/carers, and are also conscious that sometimes the inability to communicate clearly can be a sensitive issue. We will therefore investigate the best way to make contact with parents/carers, whether this is orally, by text message or by whatever means necessary, and be as inclusive as possible in all dealings with them.

7.6: How does the school communicate with parents / carers whose first language is not English?

We would update our paperwork accordingly and source and interpreter as necessary

8. Preparing my child to join a new school / next stage of education
8.1: What preparation will there be for both the school and my child before he or she joins the school?

Once the referral form is received, the Centre Manager would make contact to arrange a meeting to come out to meet the student and their parent or carer. In this meeting the school would learn more about what the student enjoys doing, how they best learn, their interests or hobbies and the important people in their life. Any questions would be answered and a visit to the school arranged if the student has not already visited in the pre-referral stages. Engaging Potential would consider the students current situation regarding their education and how best to make the transferral process a smooth one. Engaging Potential would make contact with any other professionals working with the student in order to acquire a good level of knowledge and understanding of a students needs and how best to meet them. Because the education for each student is developed on an individual timetable, we are able to take the pace for transition steady but growing towards a full programme week on week during this period.

8.2: How will my child be prepared to move on to the next stage within school, e.g. class or key stage?

Learning at Engaging Potential grows at a pace that is best suited for the individual student. This is enabled by one to one tutoring and mentoring meaning that the student does not get lost in trying to keep up with a class of students each with different learning needs.  We get to know and understand the capabilitiesof each student and using their experience and skill can develop the learning at a pace that is comfortable for the student whilst ensuring the right level of challenge.

8.3: How will my young person be prepared to move on to his or her next placement, eg. FE college or Adult Services?

In year 10 and 11 at Engaging Potential, students are encouraged to consider their career and learning path. Mentors and teaching staff support students to look at and understand their options and which may be best suited for their learning style. We use partnership links with local colleges and training consortiums to enable visits and taster days and even for students to attend college one day a week as part of their timetable.

8.4: How will you support a new placement to prepare for my young person?

At the final EHC plan review meeting we ensure that there are clear objectives in place for an onward provision to provide the most effective support for the student. Meetings can take place to ensure the onward provider is clear and understands specific needs for individual students.

8.5: What information will be provided to my young person's new placement?

We are open and honest with onward providers otherwise they may be misinformed about the level of support being discussed. Therefore we share the EHC plan for an individual student as well as expected grades on leaving Engaging Potential. In this same spirit of openness we discuss with the students what will be shared and why, so they are also aware. They will also sometimes contribute to this themselves.

8.6: How will the school prepare my child for the transition to employment?

Engaging Potential supports students to engage in work placement opportunities. This maybe a one off placement for a day, a placement for a week or fortnight, or even for a day a week across a term or the year. This together with Preparation for Working life sessions and solid one to one mentoring ensures that students are suitably prepared for the work place.

9. Who can I contact to discuss my child?
9.1: Who would be my first point of contact if I want to discuss something about my child or if I am worried?

You can speak to anyone in the team you feel most comfortable with

9.2: Does the school offer any specific support for parents / carers and families (such as Family Support Workers?)

We don’t have specific support staff in place for parents and carers but all of the team are available, again this would be the person you feel most comfortable with.  We might then be able to help you support further specialist support as required

9.3: What arrangements does the school have for signposting parents / carers to external agencies which can offer support, such as voluntary agencies?

Engaging Potential works closely with West Berkshire Council, CAMHS, Youth Offending Team, The Edge, Youth Service and the social care team. Through referral or recommendation for self referral to the social care team, parents and carers can have access to the Help for Families Programme which will support parents and carers access the most appropriate services for their needs and the needs of their child.

9.4: What arrangements does the school have for feedback from parents, including compliments and complaints?

This can be done informally or formally – we have a specific policy detailing guidance which is given with parents/carers at the referral stage

West Berkshire Council do not promote or endorse any of the services listed in this Directory. For more information on this please read our disclaimer.

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