New Satellite Class at Biggleswade Academy Open
Here is what our Headteacher said at the official opening of our new satellite class at Biggleswade Academy:
For any of you that do not know about Ivel Valley, we are an area special school located in Biggleswade.
We cater for young people aged three to nineteen. Our pupils have a wide range of difficulties from those with the most profound and multiple learning difficulties to those who have mild learning difficulties but have had difficulty making progress or coping in a mainstream environment.
Our main school is on two sites in Biggleswade and we are very proud where appropriate to the child’s needs, to also offer satellite provision for our pupils across the entire age range.
Our satellite classes are run by Ivel Valley School, but within the grounds of local mainstream schools. Some of our youngest pupils are now within this new build. We have a middle school aged group also at Biggleswade Academy, a class at Langford Lower and two further classes at Stratton Upper.
The satellite classes are staffed and run by Ivel Valley, they look like and fit into the mainstream school where they are based. The classes allow the benefits of social integration with mainstream peers in the playground and for certain classroom based programmes, whilst allowing specialist programmes to be provided in the non-threatening environment of a separate classroom.
The satellite classes at Ivel Valley School are a hugely positive and highly regarded aspect of our school by both pupils, parents and carers.
One of the great advantages of the satellite provision is the opportunity to promote inclusion for those selected pupils who are emotional and socially ready to have inclusion with mainstream peers.
Pupils in all our satellite classes access mainstream peers and facilities at break time, lunchtime and assembly time. These times allow for Ivel Valley pupils to integrate with peers, see positive role models, allow them opportunity to practice social skills targets with pupils that have age –appropriate social skills to learn from and it provides our pupils with models and opportunity to practice language and communication development
Some pupils within our satellite classes may have a particular gift for a certain subject. Being located within a mainstream school, allows the pupils opportunity to develop their academic skill alongside other pupils at a similar level. For example, we have had pupils that have joined in mainstream art lessons, pupils who have been gifted in maths who benefited from working with other peers at their level. Our pupils can be integrated into mainstream classrooms if they show particular skills and abilities which mean they can learn effectively within that environment for specific subject
The opportunity to join a mainstream class for P.E. allows large team games to take place and to develop their skills on an equal with mainstream peers which also helps to build links between pupils, aiding social inclusion and indeed one of our pupils who attends a satellite class says, “The best thing at school is going to my P.E. lesson. I get to learn with my friends who also go to my football club and play out. They get to see I am good at things too”.
Pupils within our satellite classes are often included in whole school enrichment days. This is often a positive aspect which the pupils themselves comment on. The mainstream peers act as role models for how to respond to situations and they encourage our pupils to participate in an appropriate way. They also allow large scale opportunities for peers of a similar ability e.g. school pantomime, music concerts
Some of pupils walk to the host schools independently with their friends who attend the mainstream school which again promotes positive attitude towards our pupils and allows our pupils a level of independence and the opportunity to interact with mainstream peers through their choosing.
One pupil comments, “Since joining Biggleswade Academy Class, I love being able to go to a normal school where I am not seen as having special needs and I make friends with people I see outside of school”.
Lastly, satellite classes raise awareness of our school in the local community and helping to promote the services which we offer.
To summarise, the benefits of our satellite classes for both our own pupils and pupils within the mainstream school help to promote a positive attitude towards difference and build tolerance and acceptance to young people with special educational needs and disabilities throughout their life.
We are delighted with the facilities this new build provides that will enhance opportunities for our pupils and also build on our close working relationship with Biggleswade Academy.
Ivel Valley School
14th December 2016