RLSB’s Dorton House School
Who are we?
Dorton House is a non maintained special school situated on a campus based near Sevenoaks in Kent which also includes a Nursery and Further Education College.
It caters for pupils with a wide range of educational abilities, between 5 and 16 years of age. All pupils have a degree of visual impairment and admission to Dorton House is on the basis that visual impairment is the primary cause of the pupil’s needs. Most pupils also have additional learning difficulties, physical disabilities or are developmentally delayed.
The school is holistic in its approach, serving not just the whole child but the whole family.
We believe passionately in developing innovative ways to overcome barriers to learning and general progress, ensuring our pupils have the full range of skills and values to continue their learning journey, on the way to a happy and successful life.
Our school provides an environment that is safe yet stimulating, supportive yet promotes independence and has strong community values whilst recognising the individual’s need for autonomy.
“It is a happy school with confident pupils, whose personal development is good. Pupils gain independence, confidence and self-awareness, which have a good impact on their social and communication skills.”
So what makes us different?
We prepare pupils well for each successive stage of their development and to benefit from those experiences, opportunities and responsibilities that help build maximum independence in adult life through a curriculum that is broad and balanced and also appropriate to the physical, emotional, developmental, social and spiritual needs of the individual.
First rate specialist staff
All children are taught by specialist staff in small class groups with high levels of support to meet the identified needs of individual pupils. This approach aims to offer maximum opportunities for pupils to access the curriculum, to develop independence skills and to receive appropriate assistance when necessary. The Special Educational Needs Disability Coordinator monitors pupil progress through the school, acting as consultant, highlighting training needs and liaising with staff and a range of other professionals.
The therapy and nursing team are a pivotal part of the school’s care, guidance and support.
A creative curriculum
Our Curriculum enables pupils to progress and demonstrate achievement. It is individualised to meet pupils’ needs and is informed by baseline and ongoing assessments to ensure that every opportunity is provided for the pupils to make progress in all areas, academic, pastoral and social. Our multidisciplinary staff group and our links with other agencies give us access to expertise from multiple disciplines which supports holistic assessment and underpins targets set and supportive strategies in pupils’ personalised learning programmes.
The backbone of the school curriculum is the National Curriculum, this is considered an entitlement and basis for planning. It is extended by building therapeutic work and life experiences into every learning experience.
We provide a learning environment through indoors and outdoor play, sensory programmes, active and exploratory learning, role play and problem solving at all levels that encourage positive and safe attitudes to learning. We offer strategies for creating secure situations that encourage participation , sharing and independent learning eg. circle time, listening skills and activities, cooperative games and class rules. The promotion of skills for independent living, alongside the personal development of each of our pupils is at the heart of our creative curriculum.
We aim to enable pupils to understand and express themselves and convey their feelings. These skills are developed and supported through the use of augmented communication strategies e.g.: objects of reference; Makaton Signs and Symbols; Communication Aids; PECS (a picture exchange system) and ICT.
Independence skills and mobility training are taught through the curriculum. Mobility is about enabling a child to realise their potential regarding independent movement. This could be as simple as encouraging a child to explore the area around them through the use of all their senses, or as complex as carrying out a journey independently using long-cane skills on public transport.
Pupils enjoy getting involved with different kinds of sport through the general curriculum, like horse riding and swimming.
A unique outdoor learning environment
We strongly value the opportunities for teaching and learning beyond the confines of the classroom.
Outdoor learning is a natural way of promoting learning across all curriculum area whether within the school grounds, on environmental outings or during residential experiences such as Ski Trips or Activity Centre Trips we can assist our pupils in becoming confident, responsible, effective and above all successful learners.
Our floating classroom, a canal long boat, the Golden Duck, provides a unique learning environment for our pupils providing them with a wide variety of activities which help to connect them with themselves, their environment, their community and their society.
Pupils love working on the Golden Duck, a refurbished barge used as an outdoor classroom. They enjoy the multi-sensory experience of floating along on the barge listening to and recognising the sounds of nature to help them with their science and literacy work.
At our school we have a café that is run by students with staff support, which provides them with work experience opportunities and helps them build their social skills and communication skills.
Trips and Social Education Activities
Outings and taking part in recreational activities with classmates not only gives our pupils the chance to enjoy new experiences but also improves their learning of social skills, mobility and communication providing opportunities for language work and discussions and ideal for socialisation. All pupils have the opportunity to go on trips to places of interest that enhance their education. Visits to local shops and the park can be extensions of class work in maths, English, geography, science, art and history. Pupils have the opportunity to attend riding lessons at a local stables, where they are supervised by trained instructors. Trips further afield use the school’s safely equipped minibuses, or pupils may go by public transport to help them socialise with other people and prepare them for independent travel. The school also has its own swimming pool and sensory room.
Life without Limits – Success at Dorton House School
Jane* is a pupil at Dorton House School. Louise, her mum, is keenly aware of the positive impact that the school has had on her daughter’s life;
“Dorton House has given Jane a good education; it has supported her in all her health needs and has given her opportunities that she would not have had elsewhere.
Dorton House has also enabled us as a family to participate in things with Jane that we would not be able to do by ourselves like the fantastic ski trip to Italy. The school has given Jane the chance to take part in every aspect of school life, something that did not happen when she was in mainstream education”.
*Names have been changed
How do I find out more?
Call us 01732 592650