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Woodcroft School
Whitakers Way, Baldwins Hill, IG10 1SQ, UK Loughton
+44 (0)2085-081369

Headteacher's introduction

Welcome to Woodcroft special school in Loughton, England.

Woodcroft independent day school opened in 1963. We provide nursery and primary schooling for thirty pupils with severe, profound or complex learning difficulties. Many of our pupils have very special educational challenges including autism, communication disorders or dyspraxia.

Situated in beautiful forest surroundings on the edge of Epping Forest, Woodcroft School is only one mile from the M11 and M25 motorways and therefore within easy daily reach of central, north and east London, Essex, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Kent. The school is also within easy access of neighbourhood shops, libraries and other public amenities so pupils may enjoy a variety of activities within the wider community. Epping Forest is an ideal place to broaden the experiences of pupils from the environment of inner London and for all to learn to appreciate the countryside.

Your interest and visits are much appreciated as in this way you will get to know us and understand how we work. We hope parents and carers will find benefit in the opportunities for consultation and discussion and enjoy the more informal social occasions. In fact we hope that all concerned will come to realise why we are proud of our school.

We have a dedicated and experienced staff of teachers, therapists, nursery nurses and support staff who are committed to work for the benefit of our pupils. Our staff strive to offer all our pupils access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum and continuously endeavour to improve the quality of teaching and learning. We are accredited by the National Autistic Society and Investors in People.

Thank you for your interest.

Margaret Newton, head teacher

Our ethos and aims

Woodcroft School puts the needs of its pupils first. Our approach is child centred, providing the flexibility to adapt to pupil needs and integrate with local authority provision. We believe that children should be treated with dignity and respect and are committed to equality of opportunity and to raising pupils' self-esteem by treating them in a positive way. We acknowledge that some children have very special difficulties but believe that acceptance, understanding and intensive periods of positive intervention can effect change.

Woodcroft aims:

To offer a safe and supportive environment within which pupils can develop to their full potential and live healthy, satisfying and independent lives within society.

To maintain a positive school culture where pupils are motivated and challenged by high expectations and success is consistently celebrated.

To support partner agencies by providing innovative and flexible services that ensure each pupil's education is adapted to their needs.

To be widely recognised as a specialist centre of excellence where information, training and support is shared with parents; other schools and professionals; and the wider community.


Since its foundation the school has constantly adapted to meet the changing needs of its pupils by providing a flexible structure and, where needed, a high staff to pupil ratio. Woodcroft is an education resource that can meet the needs of children who require additional support to learn and develop in mainstream schools or who need periods of intensive work in an alternative school setting. The services we offer are designed to support and complement those offered by local authorities. After an intensive period of therapeutic intervention, Woodcroft aims to prepare pupils to continue their education within their own local authorities' provision.

Where appropriate the school will consider the implementation of a dual placement programme linked to a mainstream school. Further details of these arrangements and our other services are available from the head teacher.

The school is registered and inspected by Ofsted and approved by the Department for Education and Skills for the admission of pupils for whom statements of special educational needs are maintained or are being prepared.

The school has five classes and pupils are grouped according to their needs. Each small class has a teacher, a class co-ordinator and support staff, including qualified nursery nurses. All pupils have access to therapists in either group or individual sessions. As appropriate, pupils attend regular weekly visits to the local adventure playground, gymnasium, pony riding centre, sports centre, swimming pool and tennis club.

Our school lunches are made with fresh, local and where possible organic ingredients supplied by a local organic farm as part of the Soil Association's Food for Life project. Our healthy food policy is intended to reinforce the healthy living goals of the school curriculum. A variety of computers and access technology (including alternative communication systems) are in use. Specific special needs such as sensory impairment, disturbed behaviour, physical disabilities and speech and language disorders are catered for by appropriately qualified staff and the provision of suitable equipment where necessary.

The school year of thirty-seven weeks is divided into three terms following the general school holiday pattern. Details of the school holidays are available on request. Hours are from 8.50am to 3.20pm.


The school welcomes enquiries at any time and arrangements can be made for parents, representatives from parents' support groups and representatives from Local Education Authorities (LAs) to visit the school.

The basis for admission is that the child's needs can be met at Woodcroft School and there must be a vacancy in the appropriate group.

Upon referral parents and carers visit the school and are encouraged to bring an advisor to meet the staff, see what is available and ask questions.

The head teacher makes the final decision on suitability after consultation with senior management. The placement is arranged in partnership with the child's LA.

The LA takes responsibility for the fees which are payable one term in advance. Authorities wishing to transfer a pupil to another school must give one term's notice in writing.


Individual programmes

The school curriculum is geared to meet the special needs of its pupils with particular emphasis on communication and social skills. Visual communication support systems in use at Woodcroft include Makaton (sign and symbol vocabulary) and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Individual Education Plans (IEPs) cater for the wide ability range and a high staff ratio is sufficient to ensure that quality one to one attention is available.

Pupils will access the National Curriculum at an appropriate level which may be delivered through the therapies. However the school does recognise that the National Curriculum forms but one part of the whole curriculum which our pupils require. Consequently personal and social education comprises a vital part of each pupil's school life. This includes learning about concepts of health, self-awareness, independence and personal relationships.

We recognise that some of our pupils need to gain the prerequisite learning skills before they can take advantage of the more formal types of educational experiences. The school therefore has developed its own curriculum to enable all pupils to learn in a way suited to their needs. Widening the key stages where necessary, and presenting the curriculum in an appropriate and meaningful manner, enables greater access and understanding for all pupils.

The curriculum is presented through clearly defined objectives that form the iep and include both educational, behavioural and therapeutic aims. The school has established an on-going process of evaluation and review to ensure planned progression. Emphasis is also placed on learning in real life situations and time spent in the community is valued as providing an opportunity to practice social skills.

Education in the community

One of the stated aims of the school in line with the National Curriculum is to prepare pupils for the opportunities, experiences and responsibilities of adult life. To achieve this all pupils spend time in the community learning to use public facilities, to behave in a socially acceptable way, to enjoy themselves and to improve their independence skills. As pupils progress the amount of time spent outside the school is increased in order to enhance all of these opportunities.

It is hoped that the level of staff support can be gradually reduced so that pupils are able to be as independent as possible and grow in self-confidence.

Inclusion opportunities

Pupils who are able to benefit from the experience participate in inclusion programmes in mainstream schools. Some pupils have opportunities for part- time inclusion in local primary schools with whom we have established strong links. Other pupils are able to participate in gradual inclusion programmes in their neighbourhood school with a view to taking up a full-time place in the future. In all cases a member of Woodcroft staff is provided as support.

Religious education

Emphasis is placed across the curriculum on helping pupils to develop self-awareness and to appreciate other people and their needs. Pupils are encouraged to build relationships based on mutual respect and trust, to value the world around them and thus to come to an awareness and understanding of spiritual and moral values.

All religions are respected and holidays and feast days are acknowledged.

Assemblies include collective worship. Pupils can learn to appreciate being with a larger school group and to celebrate mutual achievements. Assemblies also provide opportunities for recognising and celebrating religious festivals. Assemblies are non-denominational and pupils may be withdrawn from them at their parents' request.

Sex education

Sex education may be provided after discussion between parents and staff as to what may be appropriate in view of the child's needs and stage of development.


We believe that a period of intensive therapeutic intervention can be beneficial to the child. The school employs a number of therapists who work directly with the pupils, give specialist advice to the teaching and support staff and contribute to the planning of each pupil's programme.

Speech and language therapy

Woodcroft has two speech and language therapists who assess and deliver programmes to pupils for all areas of language and communication development. Pupils may have individual sessions or take part in classes or groups where the therapists work alongside the class teacher and support staff. The focus is upon the development of communication in a functional setting. A speech therapist co-ordinates the school's approach to the National Literacy Strategy. Speech therapy support is available during term time and holidays.

Occupational therapy

The school employs a full-time occupational therapist whose support enables pupils to develop and practice daily living skills and to acquire learning skills through the encouragement of play. Particular emphasis is placed on improving fine motor skills including the development of handwriting.

Music therapy

Pupils also benefit from weekly individual sessions with the part-time music therapist. The therapist seeks to establish contact with the pupil through the shared use of sound leading to them developing their own music. By establishing a relationship through music the child can experience and explore new ways of relating leading to development and change. There is also the opportunity to develop self-expression, self-confidence and communication within a safe, boundaried environment.


The school's part-time physiotherapist has individual and group sessions with pupils where the emphasis is upon the development of motor skills. The physiotherapist is available to support pupils and their families during term time, holidays and visits to paediatricians. A range of equipment is available.

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