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Penn School
Church Road, Penn, HP10 8LZ, UK High Wycombe
+44 (0)1494 812139

We are a non-maintained special school located in Buckinghamshire serving
Local Education Authorities and Social Services Departments

Our Mission Statement

  • Our aim is to take children with communication difficulties into our care for some period of their pre-adult life.

  • To nurture and care for them, to educate them to their highest level of their individual abilities and to prepare them to maximise their achievements in adult life

On behalf of the Governors and the Trustees, I am delighted to introduce you to Penn School.

The school is located in a magnificent old house surrounded by some 22 acres of parkland containing many wonderful trees and flowering shrubs. In addition to the National Curriculum, there are numerous extra-curricular activities available to our pupils, which give them enjoyment and self-confidence.
There is an adventure playground and an environmental centre which includes a pond and nature trail.
The school has a highly qualified and dedicated staff and this is reflected in the friendly, lively, happy atmosphere, which is evident to all visitors.

I hope that you find the information contained on this website interesting and informative and hopefully it will give you an overall view of this delightful school.

Headteacher's Statement

Penn School is a secondary school for children with communication difficulties associated with hearing impairment and /or speech and language difficulties who may have additional physical or learning problems. The school exists to provide a rich and stimulating environment in which all members of the community are entitled to develop and work towards achieving their potential in academic, social and professional terms.

Headteacher: Mary-Nest

Penn School is a small school and many children feel secure in this type of environment and are thus able to learn and therefore to succeed. We are always told what our children cannot do, but at Penn, we are much more concerned with what they can do. Our pupils can achieve much and can feel the self-esteem which comes with success. The pupils at Penn have the same rights as any other pupil in any other school. They have the same right of access to the broader National Curriculum and to study the subjects they would expect to study in their local comprehensive school. They have the right to achieve their potential. They have the right to obtain examination certificates if they are able. They have the right to be treated in the manner that is appropriate for their age. Our curriculum, our policies for each individual subject and our policies of residential care are designed with this in mind. With rights come responsibilities and we expect our pupils to aspire to being responsible for their own actions and their own attitudes to learning.

We believe that happy children learn. We provide a caring but challenging environment where pupils are encouraged to establish themselves as individuals, develop self-esteem and experience real independence. We specialise in helping children who find communicating and learning rather difficult. Every avenue is used to establish and develop good communication skills in all our pupils.

Working as a TEAM we have happiness and success for all. Together Everyone Achieves More.

- Headteacher:
Mary-Nest Richardson,
BA (Hons), PGCE, M.Ed.,
Adv. Dip. (Hearing Impairment),
B.Phil. ( Speech & Language Difficulties)


Rayners was the home of Sir Phillip Rose, Bart. Built in 1847 it remains one of the largest Victorian houses in Penn and Tylers Green.
It was the centre piece of a large estate which extended to the main London to Oxford road. A private drive was constructed by Sir Phillip to bring him home, up the hill, from the station at Loudwater.

The estate was sold in 1921 and the house converted into a school for Deaf children.

  • Hommerton School for the Deaf transferred to Penn in 1921.

  • The London County Council changed the name to RAYNERS SCHOOL.

  • Pupils were profoundly deaf of both sexes,age range 5 - 16, with additional difficulties. Most were resident.

  • The school served the whole country with pupils from Newcastle to Penzance.

  • The ILEA was formed and became the responsible authority.

  • In 1960 the classroom block, dining room, girl's dormitories and gymnasium were built.

  • In 1962 the admissions policy was changed to offer places for partially hearing pupils with additional disabilities. No provision for profoundly deaf children from 1969.

  • In 1975 PENBURY GROVE SCHOOL was opened in PENN for profoundly deaf pupils with additional disabilities.

  • The two schools were located one mile apart.

  • In 1981 the ILEA amalgamated the two schools to become PENN SCHOOL.

  • The new school offered facilities for the whole range of hearing impairment operating on two sites. Communication by BSL, Signed English and Speech.

  • In 1990 a unit for Language Impaired pupils was opened at the Rayners site.

  • The Government closed the Inner London Education Authority in 1990 and Penn School was transferred to the London Borough of CAMDEN.

  • In 1996 Camden Council proposed that the school should operate on one site.

  • The PENBURY GROVE department was closed and all pupils and staff moved to the RAYNERS site in July 1996.

  • In 1997 a new lift and toilets were installed to meet the needs of a range of pupils with additional physical disabilities.

  • In 1998 Camden LEA proposed to consult on 'ceasing to maintain' Penn School from August 1999. The resulting closure of the school and the sale of both sites would provide Camden with funds for their future SEN provision.

  • A full public consultation took place and the Governors, Staff, Parents and Pupils began a campaign to prevent the closure of the school.

  • The RAYNERS SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL TRUST was formed and with help from many friends, colleagues and MPs they presented their case to Parliament in March 1999. After a full debate in the House of Commons the Minister of State for Education said he was 'minded to approve Penn School as a Non-maintained Special School'

  • After very lengthy, detailed and time-consuming negotiations the purchase was concluded and transfer of Penn School to the Rayners Special Educational Trust was completed on the 20th of December, 2001. The school now operates as a non-maintained special school catering for children with communication difficulties associated with hearing-impairment or speech and language difficulties who may also have additional physical or learning difficulties.


Records of Achievement and Accreditation courses in English, Maths, Science, I.C.T., Geography, Art, Food Studies, P.E., Life Skills, History, Business Studies and Personal and Social Skills are available for all pupils
All class groups are small and individual training is of major importance
Individual Education Plans are devised for each pupil by the specialist teacher, the speech and language therapist and special support assistants
I.C.T. equipment is available in each classroom with specialist facilities for individual pupils

Penn School is committed to providing a full and balanced curriculum, with a strong emphasis on language and literacy development, communication and the raising of self-esteem. Throughout their school life, pupils are expected and enabled to follow the National Curriculum, appropriately modified to meet their special educational needs, having regard to age, ability, aptitude, and the nature of their difficulties. For some pupils in some subjects, the Programmes of Study will be those used by their mainstream contemporaries. For others, the Programmes of Study usual for an earlier Key Stage may be appropriate. Homework is set when required.

For younger pupils, the emphasis is upon language, literacy and communication in order to access an integrated curriculum. Having one teacher responsible for most of the work of a class gives plenty of opportunity for work to be planned in a co-ordinated way and for knowledge to be applied in a variety of circumstances.

For older pupils (Years 10 and 11) there is a range of Entry Level exams
on offer, including English, Maths, Science, Geography, ICT, Art, Food Studies, PE, History, Business Studies, Personal and Social Skills, Skills for Work and Life Skills. We also offer the GCSE course in Art for eligible pupils. Subjects such as Art, Design and Technology, Music and Drama are highly valued as an integral part of the overall curriculum.

"Pupils and students follow a good curriculum overall. For the oldest pupils, lessons follow a syllabus based on Entry Level accreditation which is effective in providing a well-structured and balanced course."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Pottery sessions at the school are closely interwoven with the Art and Design curriculum and form another 3D element to extend the creative thinking of the children.

"The quality of teaching and learning in art and design is very good. Consequently, achievement is also very good. Progress is very good. By the time that pupils complete Year 11, several are achieving levels near to that expected for their age."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Some hearing-impaired pupils take the CACDP Stage One Certificate in British Sign Language.

The school provides a Health Education (including sex education) programme in which the teacher is assisted by the school nurse in the delivery of the programme.

"Provision in personal, social and health education and citizenship is good.
Pupils are prepared well for adult life."

(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Swimming instruction and horse-riding are also part of the curriculum.

Each child has an Individual Education Plan which is jointly devised by the specialist teacher and the speech and language therapist. We aim to offer each pupil access to the Programmes of Study in the National Curriculum as is appropriate for that pupil.

"Parents hold the school in very high regard and are very supportive. Most are very positive about all aspects of the school. In particular, they are very happy that their children enjoy school and that they are taught well and treated fairly. Pupils like the school very much and are pleased to give their ideas of what improvements they wish to see."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Our aim is to educate each child to the highest level of their individual abilities.

"Pupils have a very positive attitude to learning."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

In school, class size is on average 6 pupils. Each class is in the charge of a qualified teacher who may have additional qualifications and experience in specific areas of special education:- Teachers of the Deaf, Speech and Language difficulties or Autism.

The speech and language therapist working with the pupils with speech and language difficulties hold specialist qualifications in that area and similarly, the therapist working with the hearing-impaired.

The staff at the school work closely together as a multi-professional team. This team consists of the specialist teacher, speech and language therapist, special support assistant, physiotherapist, Deaf communicator, school nurse and care staff.

The hearing-impaired pupils are taught using a Total Communication approach. Deaf communicators and speech and language therapists are appropriately provided and, working together with the specialist teacher and support assistant, enhance the effectiveness of class lessons.

"There are good links with speech and language therapists to support the improvement of pupils' communication."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

The pupils in the Language Unit have an intensive input of speech and language therapy, the therapist working closely with the teacher and support assistant with an emphasis on social skills work.

If language is to be meaningful, it must be associated with first hand experience and with this in mind, we provide a programme of educational visits, for example, to London art galleries and museums.

We recognise the contribution that outdoor activities can make to a pupil's education and take advantage of the 22 acres of land in which the school is set with our environmental centre, pond and nature trail.

Effective links are maintained with careers services who give impartial advice to pupils throughout years 10 and 11 and help appropriately to plan their transition into the next phase of education. Work experience is arranged where required and link courses with local colleges of further education have been established.

"The school has developed very good links with the community and a consequence is the very good range of visits and visitors to school to enrich pupils' learning.

Effective careers education, college placements and participation in Young Business Enterprise ensures that pupils and post-16 students achieve well in work related learning and they are prepared well for life beyond the school. "

(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

A range of extra- curricular activities is provided, including sports. For those pupils who are resident, effective links are made between care plans and Individual Education Plans and a good range of activities is provided by staff in the evenings, including regular attendance at a local youth club.

Further quotations from the 2005 OfSTED report

"Pupils pass examinations in a good range of subjects."

"There is good use of vocabulary in specialist subjects across the school. This is particularly the case in mathematics and science where there is a high expectation for the correct use of terminology. Because of the importance of communication through signing and other augmented methods such as PECs, there is a major emphasis on the speaking and listening component of English."

"Most pupils in Years 10 and 11 pass examinations in mathematics."

"There is a good emphasis on teaching pupils how to apply their mathematical skills to solve everyday problems."

"Pupils are well motivated in science because teachers plan interesting lessons. This has a positive effect upon pupils' success in learning and using correct scientific vocabulary to describe their work. Teaching and learning is good and this leads to pupils achieving well."

"Provision in music is very good."

"The subject leader's enthusiasm leads to very high levels of participation."

"Pupils develop an enjoyment of music and this boosts their self-esteem."

"Music plays a strong part in the life of the school and parents, staff and pupils are very pleased to relate to visitors the success and enjoyment of the concerts held in school. "



Penn School offers post-16 provision for young people with hearing impairment and /or speech and language difficulties as from September 2002. We will also specialise in supporting students with additional difficulties such as learning difficulties, physical, emotional and behavioural problems. The aim of this provision will be to prepare our students for independent living, developing their individual educational, social and communicative abilities to their full potential. Penn School offers a Total Communication environment. As stated in our Mission Statement we aim to:-

"To educate them to the highest of their individual abilities and to prepare them to maximise their achievements in adult life."

"The achievement of pupils and post-16 students is good. The strong support provided ensures that those with speech and language difficulties achieve well."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

The main emphasis of the course will be on Life Skills and Skills for Working Life leading to the Certificate of Educational Achievement (Entry Level) accreditation along with additional Entry Level subjects already offered at the school where appropriate.

"The Young Business Enterprise scheme for post-16 students develops their business and social skills very well.

Post-16 students work carefully in the pottery studio casting slip pots as part of the work related curriculum and a business project for their Young Business Enterprise. They show a very good understanding of the processes involved and can explain them whilst appreciating the need to consider designs that appeal to customers."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Students are accommodated in a self-contained annexe where they learn to cater for themselves and are also responsible for the housework, cooking, laundry and gardening. The school has wheelchair access to specially adapted teaching areas and accommodation.

Our well-qualified staff are trained to work with hearing-impaired students with additional difficulties or with speech and language difficulties. There is team of residential care workers providing 24 hour support. All staff sign in this total communication environment. A team of specialists is available to provide speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, audiology, careers guidance and nursing supervision.

Each student follows an individual learning plan which is designed to support their learning, physical, social and emotional needs. Individual learning plans are underpinned by a range of activities in the local community which may include work experience or voluntary work. The students take part in the school during the day and are also integrated into local colleges of further education for appropriate link courses. The Learning Skills Council advise the school on our activities.

All students will follow a programme which will include:-

Basic/Key skills.(Literacy, Numeracy and ICT skills)

  • Cookery and home management.
  • Disability awareness
  • Social and Communication skills.
  • Personal and daily living skills.
  • Working with others.

In addition, students will be able to choose from a wide range of subject areas as offered by the local colleges o further education, for example

  • Horticulture
  • Small animal care.
  • Preparation for Employment
  • Job-seeking skills / Career planning
  • Business Studies

Examples of the post-16 provision programme at Penn School

  • Some budgetary control. Students will be responsible for purchasing small items such as toothpaste, soap etc and food for their breakfast and supper from an allowance.

  • Independent shopping learning the value of money, being able to get assistance if necessary.

  • Independent travelling- Use of timetables, being able to get help if necessary. Use of Dial- a -ride.

  • Health care issues. Knowledge of local health centres, hospitals, etc. Being able to make appointments when needed, awareness of emergency procedures, how to dial 999 etc.

  • Catering and cleaning. Ability to prepare and cook simple meals safely; hot and cold beverages safely; cleanliness and clearing up afterwards; budget and plan food; laundry and use of machines, hand wash, iron etc; dusting, polishing and vacuuming etc.

  • Money issues. Use of banks, building societies, Post Offices etc; filling in forms and how to get help if necessary; to try to have a recognisable signature.

  • Use of communication aids. Use of telephone, minicom, mobile phone, typetalk; use of internet e-mails.
    " Responsibilities in relationships- all covered in PSHE for example, protected sex, making choices.

  • Drugs.- Use and misuse, being responsible; good drugs and bad drugs; Alcohol.

  • Work experience- organisation and choice.

  • College- Visits, Link courses, part-time courses etc.

  • Travel- Booking holidays ; looking at travel.

  • Use of catalogues / the Internet.- shopping with catalogues; Internet shopping; safety issues about debt etc.

  • ID cards, passports, travel cards.- How to use them and what you are entitled to. Disability rights. How to get photo done.

  • Benefit claims DHSS - visits and help with forms etc.

  • Options and choices for living independently - Sheltered housing, warden controlled flats, full-time college, living away from home.

  • Use of libraries and information centres, citizens' advice bureau; where to look for anything free.

The format for this course would be 2 days at the Link College, 1 day of work experience and 2 days based at the school working towards the Entry Level Life Skills accreditation, any further Certificates of Achievement /GCSE's and supporting the pupils' college follow-up work.

Students are taught in small class groups by specialist teachers supported by a special support assistant with access to subject areas as outlined above which have not been previously covered.
There is a strong emphasis on Drama at the school with work experience and career possibilities with the Sign Dance Consortium.

Students attend two different colleges on a two days a week basis.
( Colleges used by the school: Berkshire College of Agriculture, Langley College , Amersham + Wycombe College or Uxbridge College).

Speech and language Therapy and Occupational Therapy input continues in the Post 16 Department.

"The quality of education, teaching and learning and leadership is good.

Post 16 students achieve well and develop very good attitudes to work.

The achievement of post 16 pupils is good.

Effective careers education, college placements and participation in Young Business Enterprise ensures that Post 16 pupils achieve well in work-related learning and they are prepared well for life beyond the school.

The Young Business Enterprise scheme for the post 16 students develops their business and social skills very well.

Post 16 students have good opportunities to attend courses at several local colleges of further education which are well matched to their individual needs.

Students have good opportunities to develop and practise the skills necessary to gain employment.---visit job centres---learn about the jobs available---have good support to practise interview skills.

Pupils have well organised careers files and there is a very good emphasis in lessons on promoting students' self-confidence.

Pupils and students gain work experience in groups. For example, post 16 students with speech and language difficulties have weekly visits to the Skids motor project in High Wycombe and pupils with ASD do supervised gardening.

Residential provision is good and pupils who stay, or those who join in with the activities in the evening before they go home benefit from a very good range of additional activities to enhance their learning."
(OfSTED REPORT, 2005).

Regular evening activities (until 8:30pm) and overnight stays in the Post 16 maisonette are strongly recommended for day students. The aim of this is to develop independent living skills and to put into practice the social communication skills learned in Speech Therapy sessions. Additional speech therapy group work on Social Skills is part of the after school evening activities.

Full boarding is available at Penn School. There is a well-qualified and experienced team of Care Staff delivering the waking hours curriculum. This is accessible to day pupils through evening activities and overnight stays.

"The school continues to provide a good and consistent standard of care for boarding pupils.

Pupils clearly stated that they enjoy the boarding experience.

The school employs an experienced care team who were observed to be fully conversant with the needs of individual pupils and also the group dynamics of the boarding group as a whole.

Pupils are provided with a good range of social activities outside school hours which augments the waking hours curriculum and continues to focus on assisting pupils to achieve their individual potential, both academically and socially."
(CSCI Inspection Report, June 2005).



Personal+Social Education and Citizenship are central to the educational entitlement of all children at Penn School, and, as a cross-curricular dimension, permeates all aspects of life in school.

The whole school individual needs policy clarifies the school's approach. As a "special" school, all academic and social activities are designed with individual pupil needs in mind. Due to the specific individual needs of each of our pupils, great emphasis is placed on the quality of pastoral care offered within the school. We make every effort to provide a level of appropriate care and supervision in partnership with the parents. Class teachers act as a first point of contact for parents and are responsible for co-ordinating the emotional/ social development of pupils in their groups. For those pupils who are residential, this role is taken over by the care worker out of school hours.

The way the curriculum is managed, its organisation and the varying teaching styles used are central to the school's philosophy and ethos, its aims, attitudes and values. All contribute to the personal and social development of the children in school. Personal Development covers a wide range of subjects and the development of personal and social skills. These include health education, sex education, drugs awareness, thinking skills and learning about relationships in the family, with friends and in wider social contexts. Our emphasis is on the development of communication skills, personal and social interaction and of responsible behaviour.

Through a variety of learning experiences Penn School helps each child:

  • To think and act for him/herself.
  • Develop his/her place in a wide range of roles in preparation for adult life.
  • Develop confidence / independence.
  • Value and respect him/herself and value others.
  • To know him/herself better and think well of him/herself.
  • To develop social skills.
  • Value and respect belongings/ living things/ environment.
  • Be able to share/ cooperate.

Pupils are encouraged to develop a realistic and positive understanding of themselves and an awareness of their own uniqueness. This includes considering their own future, careers education and an introduction to the world of work through work experience.

Good personal development takes place. Pupils with speech and language difficulties gain confidence and value the patience of the staff and one another that enables them to increase effectively the expression of their feelings, wants and needs. The personal development of the pupils who use sign to communicate is enhanced through opportunities to work with Deaf staff who provide good role models for pupils, help them to develop a positive self-image and extend effectively their communication.

OFSTED Report - June 1998

Religious Education is taught as part of the Personal Development programme and as a separate subject. The content is broadly Christian but other cultures and faiths will be studied. The approach is non-judgemental and issues are tackled in a lively and interesting way. Children may be exempt from discrete
RE lessons and collective worship if such a request is made by parents.

Through our general routines, in and out of the classroom, and the way in which individuals relate to each other, children are encouraged to develop their own attitudes and values. By building positive working relationships between children and staff all members of our school are valued as individuals. They learn to see the need for good manners, self-discipline and appropriate behaviour in whatever situation they find themselves in, for example, at mealtimes. The excellent home-cooked meals are taken in a family setting encouraging good table manners and appropriate social behaviour.

Records of Achievement for each child provide a means of recognising each child's personal and social development.

We value and celebrate cultural diversity and promote equality of opportunity for all pupils.

Good work and behaviour is highly valued at Penn School and every effort is made to ensure that the pupils receive recognition of good work, positive behaviour and any achievement.

We have a system of Certificates of Merit which are awarded at assembly where the commendation can be shared with all the staff and pupils. Certificates are awarded individually to a pupil for outstanding effort and achievement in a curricular area or for good behaviour.

Staff believe very strongly in praise and encouragement and pupils are encouraged to "show" work to the school at Assembly and are also sent to the Headteacher for producing excellent work or putting a great deal of effort into their studies.

Good behaviour is encouraged using positive strategies and activities. If a child is badly behaved, the situation is dealt with quickly by the member of staff involved. Should the situation warrant further action then the situation is referred to the Headteacher. We endeavour to channel inappropriate behaviours into more appropriate activities. Partnerships with parents are involved as much as possible.
All incidents of a serious nature e.g. violence, leaving the school premises, are reported in the Incident Book. This provides a full and detailed account of the serious situation when it occurs.

All pupils are encouraged to communicate their grievances to responsible adults.
Child Protection procedures operate within the school following the Buckinghamshire Social Services guidelines.



Penn School caters for up to 40 residential girls and boys aged 11-18 years. Residential children are in residence from Monday mornings until Friday afternoons. Parents are asked to supply adequate clothing - a list of which will be found at the end of this prospectus.

The school laundry sees to the washing of your child's clothes during school time. Every care is taken in the washing of your child's clothes.

Resident pupils require at least £5 pocket money a week to cover the cost of evening outings.

A telephone and a minicom are available for the children to both make and receive telephone calls. Tel: 01494 811408 or 811409

Our evening activities programme means that most people are not available until after 8:00 so phone calls are more likely to be successful after that time.

When children become residents, they are registered with the school GP, Dr. Coggan at Penn Surgery.

The good residential provision is a strength of the school and has a marked and positive impact upon the pupils' overall attainment and social development. The planned refurbishment of accommodation is improving facilities and allows pupils of all ages to be treated with dignity and respect. Pupils learn effectively to take care of their personal possessions and take a pride in their rooms. They make very good progress in developing their social skills and independence.

There is adequate wheelchair access to the first floor via the lift and an appropriate toilet for disabled people. All staff act as examples of good parenting. They are meticulous in their duties and ensure that there are effective links between themselves and the teaching staff. A wide variety of purposeful activities is arranged for the pupils during the evenings at school.

Care staff ensure the maintenance of a positive ethos in the residential provision which is conducive to learning and greatly enhances the education of all resident pupils.

OFSTED Report - June 1998

The residential aspect of Penn School is an integral part of the educational provision. Each student is allocated a keyworker. The role of the keyworker is to support students in their educational attainments and prepare them for later life. The keyworker offers support in all areas of lifeskills to enable them to gain as much independence as possible. The 24 hour curriculum ensures continuity of education after the school day ends.

The school's residential provision actively supports children's educational progress at the school. The children have ample opportunity to engage in purposeful and enjoyable activities both within the school and within the local community.

CSCI Report 24/05/2004


The accommodation is situated on two separate floors, one for the male students and one for the females. There is also a semi-independent flat for the older students. Bedrooms are single or shared and all rooms are homely. The students are encouraged to personalise their own living space with posters, pictures and their own choice of bedding. Each area has its own lounge with television and video facilities. They can also prepare their own supper and drinks. They have access to computer and internet facilities.


The school's philosophy is maintained through a structured series of extra-curricular activities which incorporate social and practical life-skills.
We offer outings within the local community to various sporting venues, places of interest, cinemas and theatre. We also work closely with local Youth Support Groups. In-house activities include Art and Craft, video nights, five-aside football, radio controlled cars and anything else of interest to our students.


For residential pupils, there are excellent facilities including:
Semi-independent flat
Games room
Physiotherapy and exercise room
Extensive playing fields
Nature trail and environmental centre

The Care/ Lifeskills Department is run by a dedicated experienced staff team which is committed to the well-being of every student.

The boarding welfare of the students is monitored by the Commission for Social Care (CSCI ) on an annual basis.
Inspection reports are available on the internet.
Contact details for the CSCI :

CSCI Aylesbury Area Office
Cambridge House
8 Bell Business Park
Smeaton Close
Bucks. HP19 8JR.
Tel: 01296 737550

primary schools in High Wycombe, secondary schools in High Wycombe, schools in High Wycombe

Editorial office:
tel. + 48 (094)