Ashmount School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ashmount School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Headteacher David Deacon
Ashmount pupils have access to a wide
range of sporting and recreational activities
Based in Leicestershire, Ashmount School caters for students
aged four to 19 who have a range of special educational
needs. In recognition of their excellence, the school was
designated as a National Support School by the Department for
Education, and Headteacher David Deacon became recognised
as a National Leader of Education in 2018. The school has
committed itself to promoting and engaging in best practice for
many years. Among their facilities are a heated swimming pool,
multisensory and soft play rooms, music and cookery rooms and
extensive playground facilities – all helping greatly with many of
their children’s needs. David tells
The Parliamentary Review
We’re a special school catering for ages four to 19. Among our intake are pupils
with a wide range of needs, including pupils with profound and multiple learning
difficulties, pupils with severe learning difficulties and pupils with autism spectrum
conditions, many of whom also have medical and physical difficulties. Our provision
is tailored with precisely these children in mind. In January 2014, we moved into a
new building with 92 children. Five years on – that is, at the time of writing this –
we now have 171 children on roll.
Sharing with the community
One of our main characteristics is our higher than average staff-to-child ratio in
classrooms, but we also distinguish ourselves in terms of our multidisciplinary
body of staff, whose combined expertise can help children and parents overcome
»Headteacher: David Deacon
»Located in Loughborough,
»Type of school: Special
»No. of pupils: 171
»Ashmount was named
“Special School of the Year”
in the National “Shine a Light”
Communication Awards in
Ashmount School
Highlighting best practice
all kinds of difficulties. Among them
are a range of specialist teachers and
therapists. Our outreach provision is
also effective and widely appreciated.
Annually, we support a network of 40
local primary schools. We are really
proud to have helped schools across
the county in this regard.
The reader doesn’t have to take our
word for this; in January 2018 we
received our third “outstanding”
Ofsted report. Furthermore, we
have been designated as a National
Teaching School, again testifying
to our genuine commitment to not
only engaging in best practice but
sharing it widely too. In Leicestershire
itself, we are the lead school for the
Loughborough Learning Alliance (LLA),
a teaching school alliance with 28
member schools and colleges from
across Leicestershire who help and
support each other.
Our teaching school alliance organises
and hosts a range of training sessions
and subject leader networks. We lead
training for primary, secondary and
SEND teachers through our School
Direct trainee teacher programme.
We also provide school-to-school
support commissioned through our
local authority and the Department
Since winning the National Pupil
Premium Award in July 2014 and then
being designated as Pupil Premium
Champions in March 2016, our school
has gone on to provide support to
over 30 schools in developing the
achievement of their disadvantaged
pupils through conducting Pupil
Premium Reviews, as well as training
over 300 Pupil Premium Reviewers
across the East Midlands.
We also show particular strength in
the areas of leadership and of creating
a close and caring community. Ofsted
remarked that we have “strengthened
leadership at all levels by sharing
responsibility for school improvement
with teachers and teaching assistants.”
It also remarked on the palpable joy
that pupils take in coming to school.
Forming a close and collaborative
community is critical to the smooth
functioning of an SEN school, as it’s
only through proper communication
that we can understand fully the needs
of our children and how we can best
support their parents or carers.
Whatever the circumstances,
ensuring no one’s left behind
At a time when SEN funding is being
squeezed, we have to be especially
proactive in ensuring no child is left
behind. One of the ways in which we
have sought to help in this regard is by
employing a family support worker who
can help and guide parents. For example,
this new office can signpost parents as
to what next steps to take and which
destinations to make their way to. If
necessary, our family support worker can
help our parents to fill out paperwork
where this proves to beburdensome.
It can be difficult for many of our
pupils to find opportunities to
Ashmount hosts a range
of arts and cultural events
for local mainstream and
special schools
In January
2018 we
received our
Ofsted report
socialise with children their own
age outside of school, and it’s for
this reason we host events such as
afterschool and summer clubs, as well
as a weekly inclusive Scouts club and
termly school discos, among other
things. High-quality provision for
out-of-school hours benefits both our
pupils and their parents. Transport
arrangements can be a problem
because the majority of our pupils
travel to and from school on school
transport, and many do not live
nearby, so we’ve had to be flexible in
how and when we plan clubs.
Another, more general, issue is that
we’re constrained in terms of the
number of additional pupils we can
take on due to physical space. This
has required us having to apply for
a building extension which could
suit exactly this purpose. At the time
of writing, we are due to begin a
brand-new classroom extension,
with accompanying small group
room, kitchen area and toilets to
accommodate a further 12 pupils. As
a school we feel we can do a lot for
children with special needs in our local
area, so we’d be thrilled to see our
school expand in size further.
An excellent model as a
guarantor of success
The challenges we face are by no
means insurmountable. As a school,
we have total confidence in our ability
to go from strength to strength.
Our basic model and our excellent
reputation are the foundation from
which our other successes will
continue to flow. An example of this
is the fact that when we recently
advertised for teachers, we received
over 30applications.
Our focus moving forward is to
increase public awareness of who we
are and what we can do. The goal
is to expand in terms of both staff
and students. However, it’s not just
quantity that we want to increase but
also the quality of care and education
we provide. This is why a key aim of
ours is continuing to train teachers
and support staff in our own and
other schools so that they can be
more effective. This will fulfil our
broader and more important goal of
ensuring that no child is left behind,
least of all those who have special
Forming a
close and
community is
critical to the
functioning of
an SEN school
Ashmount provides a
total communication
environment for all of its

This article was sponsored by Ashmount School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.