Questions and answers

Questions and answers

Where are your schools? Are any new ones opening?

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We currently operate two school clusters, Octavia House Schools, London, and Octavia House Schools, Essex.

OHS, London has three sites: Vauxhall (ages 5 to 12), Nine Elms (ages 11 to 14), and Kennington (ages 14 to 16).

OHS, Essex has two sites: Great Baddow (ages 5 to 12) and, from September 2024, South Woodham (ages 12 to 14, and up to age 16 from September 2025).

We are working on plans to expand further, including in other parts of London and Kent. Watch this space!

What does being a 'therapeutic' school actually mean? 

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It means everything we do is underpinned by our seamless therapeutic approach, anchored in the most recent research and evidence in relational practice, healthy brain development, the impact of trauma and adversity, and attachment. This includes therapists working alongside staff in classrooms, continuous therapist-led staff training in therapeutic models and strategies, our values-centred curriculum, and a high-quality therapy offer for our families.

 

Therapy is offered to pupils on an individual, small group and whole-class basis. It is a sensitively-integrated element of every pupil’s curriculum. Pupils have daily access to their school site’s lead psychotherapist, and regular assessment and support from other key therapists.

 

Our qualified and experienced therapists are committed to working seamlessly with teachers to maximise their impact on pupils’ social skills, emotional wellbeing, behaviour and achievement.

What curriculum do you teach?

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Pupils study a wide range of subjects. All subjects are planned to ensure coverage of national curriculum content, and are taught discretely. In some subjects, our subject specialists teach pupils across schools, such as in physical education, science, computing, art, design and technology, and cooking.

 

Younger pupils are taught by two teachers in our ‘team teacher’ model. Teaching is carefully designed to engage pupils’ interests; topics and themes are taught as interactively and physically as possible.

 

A range of extra-curricular clubs are provided at the end of the school day, and regular educational trips enhance the curriculum further.

Which therapies do you offer?

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All pupils have access to speech, language and communication therapy, occupational therapy, mindfulness, and assessments with our educational psychologist.

 

Depending on the site, we offer art therapy, canine therapy (we love our therapy dogs!), counselling, dramatherapy, music therapy, and play therapy. Some of our younger pupils also have access to horse-riding and farm workshops.

 

All pupils’ families have access to personalised family support from our lead psychotherapists.

Which qualifications are offered?

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For pupils in Years 10 and 11, we offer a vocational, careers-focused curriculum to prepare them for the ever-changing world they will work in. In addition to therapy, pupils study eight core subjects and choose one career pathway. 

 

The core subjects are English language, mathematics, computing, personal and social development, science, humanities, art and physical education (PE). All subjects other than PE are accredited at a level in line with pupils’ abilities, from entry-level up to GCSE.

 

Careers pathways include creative craft, food and cookery, sport, interactive media, and music technology. Pathways aim to include relevant work experience placements, and all lead to further education, training and apprenticeships in a range of careers. 

How many pupils are in a class?

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Pupils have the huge advantage of being taught in small classes of usually around five to eight pupils. As a result, the curriculum is more personalised, and pupils get a high level of support from their teachers and therapists.   

How are pupils assessed?

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Our assessment system was designed by our teachers and therapists together to accurately capture pupils’ starting points, achievements and progress over time in all subjects. We also assess pupils’ progress according to our bespoke social, emotional and mental health scale.

Are your teachers qualified, and why don't you employ teaching assistants? 

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We only employ qualified teachers, as well as some talented graduates in the process of qualifying. Younger pupils are taught in small classes by two qualified teachers, and older pupils are taught by subject specialists. We believe that a workforce of qualified teachers and therapists 'working as one' provides the quality of provision our pupils need and deserve. 

Will my child go on trips? How will they be kept safe?

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Of course! We think it is extremely important that all pupils enjoy opportunities to go on trips, to play in local parks and to participate in a range of enriching experiences. We risk assess every pupil and every activity, and ensure that the staff-to-pupil ratio supports out-of-school experiences that are as safe as possible.

What are the timings of the school day?

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Mondays to Fridays from 8.45am to 3.00pm. 

Do pupils have to wear uniform?

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Yes, all pupils are expected to wear school uniform which includes an OHS school jumper and/or polo shirt (provided free of charge), grey or black trousers or skirt, and black shoes or trainers. Jewellery is not permitted, except for single-stud earrings in each ear. The wearing of hats, caps and hoods is not permitted.

Why are your term dates different from many other schools?

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We think our term-dates model provides the consistency pupils need, as well as the right work-life balance for staff. That’s why, since September 2018, we have uniform term lengths (six weeks), mid-term holidays of two weeks, and a shorter summer holiday (the month of August).

What about mobile phones and devices?

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Mobile phones, and any devices that connect to the internet such as tablets and smartwatches, are strictly forbidden in all our schools. All pupils’ devices must be handed it at reception where they are stored securely until pupils leave at 3.00pm.

Will I get phone calls asking me to collect my child early if they misbehave?

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No. We know that this has been a negative experience in the past for many of our families. Families are kept regularly updated (the frequency of which is negotiated with the allocated trusted adult), and will only receive calls during the school day if there is an emergency or if a serious incident has occurred.  

What are the arrangements for food?

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We are really proud of the quality of food we provide. Pupils receive breakfast, breaktime snacks and freshly-prepared lunches cooked by our brilliant chefs. A range of dietary requirements is catered for. 

Will my child be physically restrained?

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Only when it is absolutely necessary in order to keep everybody safe. We do not physically intervene with pupils as a behaviour management strategy. Our staff are Team Teach trained, which is nationally recognised training focused on de-escalation (spotting triggers before an incident occurs and intervening quickly) and positive handling (a small number of safe, tried and tested holds). 

What needs do pupils attending an Octavia House School usually have?

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We work with pupils who have education, health and care (EHC) plans for their social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, which are usually a result of their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma. Pupils sometimes also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attachment disorder (AD).

 

We are not the right place for pupils who have autism as their primary need.

Do you use secure isolation rooms, sometimes known as 'calming' or 'reflection' rooms?

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No. Pupils can access open relaxation spaces which we encourage them to self-refer to; pupils are always supported by a trusted adult and never left in isolation.

Do you provide placements with one-to-one support?

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No, we only work with pupils who can manage in a small class of five to eight pupils. Of course some pupils need different levels of support at different times, and some may need more intensive support on a temporary basis, but we do not offer placements to pupils who need continuous personalised support.

Will my child be suspended whenever their behaviour is particularly challenging?

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No, of course not. We expect pupils to be in school every day, and treat each and every day as a fresh start. We make occasional use of suspension (of one or two days) in extreme cases, and only if it is likely to be effective (i.e. lead to non-repetition of the reason for the suspension).

Do you provide temporary placements?

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No, and we are not an alternative provider (AP) or pupil referral unit (PRU). We are an independent special school providing full-time, permanent placements only.

Is transport to and from school provided?

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Many of our pupils are transported to school by their local authority. This is something families apply for through their local authority's SEND transport team. We are not responsible for transporting pupils to and from our school sites and have no influence over decisions made to provide it.

Can I visit your schools for a look around?

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If your child has been referred by your local authority's SEND team, you will be invited to visit the relevant school site as part of the admissions process. Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to facilitate visits to our schools without a formal consultation from a local authority. 

How do I refer my/a child to an Octavia House School?

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Referrals to our schools must be made by your local authority. If your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan for their need of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, you can express a preference for an Octavia House School to your local authority’s special educational needs team. If they consider we may be able to meet your child’s needs, they will contact our head of referrals to discuss a potential referral. Please note that we are not the right place for pupils who have autism as their primary need.

How do I raise a concern or make a complaint?

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From time to time, families with children at an Octavia House School may have a concern they need to raise, or a complaint that needs resolving. In the first instance, please speak to your child’s trusted adult, or their assistant principal. For full details, please see our complaints procedure.

Are there opportunities to meet my child's teachers and therapists?

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Of course! In addition to at-least weekly phone calls from your child’s trusted adult, we hold three open days for families throughout the year.