22nd January 2020

12 months ago Cornwall’s Wave Trust, recognised as the most successful trust in the country for providing education for pupils who have been excluded from school, took over the running of the Central Devon, North Devon and South and West Devon academies.

Today the three academies have new names: Stansfield Academy, The Shoreline Academy and the River Dart Academy, new principals and are celebrating a significant improvement in educational standards and exam results, improved teaching facilities and strong support from pupils and parents.

Wave’s Devon ‘family’ has also been joined by Torlands, a new academy for pupils unable to access school for medical reasons, which opened in new premises in Exeter earlier this year. Glendinning House, a new special free school for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those on the Autism spectrum, is due to open in Newton Abbott September 2020.

Alternative Provision academies provide education for mainstream pupils who have been permanently excluded from school or are at risk of exclusion. They have to meet the same Ofsted criteria as mainstream schools with regard to attendance, behaviour, attainment and pupil progress.

The Department for Education formally transferred the three Devon academies, previously run by the Schools Company Trust, to Wave in November 2018. Wave Trust is the largest Alternative Provision provider in the South West, with six academies based in Cornwall, three academies based in Devon, and the Community and Hospital Education Service (CHES) and Torlands based across three centres in Devon and Cornwall.

Wave is also the most successful Alternative Provision trust in the country by Ofsted outcome, with two of its Cornwall academies judged as “Outstanding” in the last year and the remaining five judged as “Good”.

Wave Trust Leader Rob Gasson welcomes the progress which has been made by the Devon academies over the past year, and is looking forward to continuing to work with staff, parents and young people to enable the settings to reach the same high standards as the Wave academies in Cornwall.

“Every single member of the Wave team works very hard to ensure that we are providing the highest quality education for all our pupils” he said. “Our aim is to support pupils who are disengaged from education so they can integrate back into mainstream or special needs schools, the world of work or into further education. This means equipping children with the skills they need for both education and for life.”

“This has been a period of considerable change for staff, parents and carers and children at these centres. I have been delighted by the enthusiasm with which everyone has worked together to deliver improvements and the positive results are clear to see. We know there is more work to do but I am confident that we can build on this strong foundation to deliver our ambitious plans.”

All three academies provide education for children who have been excluded from mainstream school.

“Our pupils come to us at various points throughout their schooling, usually as a result of their school placement having broken down” explained Clare Barden, Principal of Stansfield Academy and Executive Principal of Devon’s academies for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. “Our purpose is to support pupils to create an environment where everyone can grow and develop, as they become responsible citizens and lifelong learners.”

“Staff work with primary and secondary schools and a wide range of outside agencies to provide support and guidance to the most vulnerable pupils. We want to help pupils get back on track, either through a return to regular schooling or by completing Year 11 at one of our academies.

“We are committed to tailoring our curriculum to meet the needs of our pupils, developing a range of skills knowledge, attitudes and understanding so all our pupils can aspire to their full potential.”

Stansfield Academy, based in Exeter, provides full time education for children from 4-16 years of age who have been excluded from mainstream schools in the Exeter, East and Mid Devon areas. This year 100% of pupils at Stansfield achieved at least one exam pass, with 77% achieving a GCSE in Maths.

One pupil who has benefited from the support he has received from Stansfield is Jack ** (names have been changed).

Having previously attended a mainstream primary school Jack had spent the majority of his time receiving fixed term exclusions due to violent outbursts and being a danger to himself, peers and staff. He was also repeatedly soiling and wetting himself demonstrating high levels of anxiety within his setting. His parents were struggling to manage his behaviour both at home and at school, with his father having to work from home to manage and support his son.

Stansfield provided Jack with a safe environment working in small classes of five, alongside skilled staff with SEN experience who helped him to manage his emptions and behaviour. Within two weeks he was attending the Academy full time, developing a love for learning and wanted to come to school each day. Staff also worked with the family to amend Jack’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to reflect the reduction in violent outbursts, resulting in Jack being offered a place in a specialist local school.

Jack’s parents are delighted in the change in their son and are full of praise for the support they have received from Stansfield.

“Our son was placed with the Wave Trust at the Stansfield Academy soon after his exclusion and within a very short period of time we noticed a reduction in his anxiety levels leading to improved behaviour. The staff at the Stansfield Academy were excellent in their communication allowing us to continue the strategies employed at school in the home environment.

Within a few short months of joining the Stansfield Academy our son’s behaviour and willingness to engage in educational activities had improved so much that he was able to be placed in a specialist provision where he is going from strength to strength. We are eternally grateful to everyone at the Stansfield Academy for their kindness, professionalism and support both in our son’s development and during the process of obtaining a formal diagnosis and the issuing of an EHCP.”

Based in North Devon, with sites in Bideford (primary) and Barnstaple (secondary), The Shoreline Academy is led by Principal Tessa Claridge. This year 82% of pupils achieved at least a Level 1 qualification in English, with 91% achieving at least one exam pass. Six pupils gained GCSE’s in both English, Maths and Science, with a further six achieving a portfolio of vocational BTEC qualifications.

“Our team are committed to supporting young people to achieve their full potential and nurturing their aspirations.” said Tessa. “Young people come to us at various points throughout their schooling, our role is to support them on their journey, either back into school or further education, employment or apprenticeships. As a school, we are immensely proud of the results of our pupils and their personal achievements.”

Mandy ** joined Shoreline when she was in Year 3 after being permanently excluded from her previous mainstream school following a number of serious behavioural incidents.

After being placed in small group settings, and receiving extensive support, her behaviour improved and staff hoped she might be able to return to a mainstream school. Unfortunately, she continued to struggle to manage her emotions, resulting in increasingly challenging and dangerous behaviour, and it was decided she needed specialist provision. Staff at Shoreline worked closely with her family to obtain an education, health and care plan which identified the level of support she needed, and then helped her to gain a place at a specialist provision which could meet her needs longer term.

Mandy has settled in well in her new school and is looking forward to her future. “I want to be a dentist” she said, adding that if people could truly see inside her they would see “a nice girl and bright colours.”

The River Dart Academy, led by Principal Nathan Hayes, is located in Dartington. This summer 81% of pupils achieved at least a Level 1 qualification in English, with 93% achieving at least one exam pass. One pupil achieved grade 4’s in both English & Maths and another one of the students achieved a grade 5 in their Maths.

Torlands Academy, based at Merrivale, is led by Executive Principal Helen Casson, who also heads Wave’s Community and Hospital Education Service (CHES) in Cornwall. It provides education for pupils across the whole of Devon who are not able to attend school owing to medical reasons.

“We believe that children and young people with health needs that impede their attendance at school should have access to high quality educational opportunities, with the expectation that they will be returning to school as soon as possible,” explained Helen Casson, Executive Principal Medical.

“We provide a personalised curriculum which meets the individual needs of our pupils and work closely with them, their families, schools and other agencies to ensure a smooth and effective transition back into mainstream education as their health improves.”

Sam **, a very able student, joined the Academy in Year 9 when his obsessive compulsive tendencies and high anxiety had become overwhelming, leaving him unable to access education.

After initially receiving outreach teaching and accessing online lessons, Sam gradually began spending one day a week at Torlands to attend group lessons, including Science, his favourite subject. He is also continuing with his online lessons. He was also encouraged by staff to attend the Wave surf project to help him socialise with other young people where he discovered a talent for surfing. He now has a new group of friends and organises social events with them. Staff have also referred him to Careers South West who are supporting him to apply for A level courses.

Sam’s parents are delighted with the support from Torlands. “'Thank you so much for all you have done, and for all that you continue to do. I can't tell you the difference you have made to his life. I will always be very grateful. He’s making good progress and is able to focus much more on his learning this year.”

Currently being built on the site of a former County Council infants school in Newton Abbot, Glendinning House will provide specialised support for children aged between 7 to 19 with social interaction and communication needs including those on the Autism Spectrum when it opens in Autumn 2020.

The school will initially open with up to 54 places for children, growing to 120 pupils over the first three years; this will include 12 sixth form places.

Glendinning will provide a personalised supportive environment with a curriculum based around nature. Pupils will use outdoor learning to access the National Curriculum, developing communication, interaction, social and emotional skills.

“We recognise that each child learns differently and use a range of methods to ensure that we can tailor our approach to their individual strengths” said Rob Gasson. “Our proven approach has been to provide a broad and balanced curriculum which enables all children to succeed and we are using this same approach with our Devon academies.

We will continue to work positively with pupils, their parents and carers and staff to maintain and build on the progress which has made and look forward to celebrating further success in 12 months’ time.”