'A school can become a surrogate 'secure base' which can contain the inevitable anxiety engendered by the challenges of learning. School can provide compensatory relationships and experiences to pupils whose capacities to learn have been impaired by adverse emotional and social experiences.'
Cherry Tree has been designed to meet the needs of pupils who present with mental health issues which has stopped them from accessing long term education or who have struggled to fit into the education models available to them. Cherry Tree specialises in pupils who need time to settle, need space to thrive and need patience and support to achieve. A highly experienced staff team will work together with all relevant agencies to ensure that an individualised education package is shaped around each pupil. This will ensure that in time, they can reach their potential academically, while building their emotional stability and resilience.
'Children have different experiences even at the same school and that for well-being 'child school' fit is as important as attending a 'good' school.'
Mental health and ongoing difficulties can present in many ways, both verbally, non-verbally and through various behaviours and so each individual situation will be discussed thoroughly to ensure that Cherry Tree can give the best possible fit for your young person. Understanding their holistic needs means that the most effective Learning Plan can be created to promote their growth and progress. Learning Plans are flexible working documents and will flow and adapt to the ongoing needs of the pupil.
Reflective practice and staff development is an integral part of Cherry Tree life and underpins much of what we do. Regular meetings with external experienced and qualified professionals also ensures that we remain up to date in our knowledge and adds to our expertise to provide the best possible teaching and learning environment for our pupils.
'There is evidence that suggests that a whole school approach is important as it ensures that mental health and well-being is embedded within the culture and processes of the school, and also ensures that they work with partners in health, the voluntary sector etc. to provide mental health support for those most in need'.
Our school ethos is to value all pupil's skills and abilities beyond the cognitive. Pupils voices are valued and are at the heart of, and a part of every decision we make. Cherry Tree will strive to be innovative to meet the diverse, emotional and aesthetic needs of all pupils. We will endeavour to build mutually respectful relationships so that pupils feel appreciated and noticed. We believe in encouraging pupils to take learning risks and explore the world around them which in turn enables them to feel more positive about their learning and their future. The character, personality, individuality, awareness and resilience of each pupil is encouraged and developed, thereby promoting a healthy and enjoyable approach to learning and to life.
At Cherry Tree we will ensure, through our considered intentions, that:
Soo Finn BA Hons, NPQH
Soo is a qualified and experienced headteacher who has worked with many vulnerable children and young people for over 25 years, including those who have mental health issues, learning disabilities and challenging behaviours, homeless young people, young offenders and children and young people who misuse drugs and alcohol.
One of the key factors that has driven Soo's career was an early recognition that many of these children and young people had negative learning experiences at school and were often excluded. Her career first took the path into education when she set up her own training company and completed her Cert Ed.
Soo then went on to gain a BA Hons in Education and Training and completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship with outstanding feedback. She has worked for, and alongside various organisations including the Voluntary and Charitable Sector, The Prince's Trust and Kent Police.
Soo was also involved in a multi-national project in France which brought together children and young people from Britain, France and Turkey. Soo set up and led an Alternative Education Provision through two 'Good with Outstanding Features' Ofsted inspections and led the same team to win a Gold Award for Innovation in Education.
Since then Soo has worked in as a Headteacher in an independent school and led a staff team to change an 'adequate' school into an outstanding 'Ofsted ready' school. In her spare time Soo enjoys interior design, gardening and is writing a book about her life experiences.
Emma Brown QTLS
Emma has worked with vulnerable children and young people for over 15 years in various capacities including youth work, coaching and tutoring. Emma has completed the Diploma for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector and went on to gain her QTLS accreditation.
Throughout her career she has attended various training events and conferences related to children and young people with behavioural, social and learning difficulties.
Emma was part of an education team that won a Gold Award for Innovation in Education and after this went on to complete a Diploma in First Line Management while employed as a School Operations Manager in an Alternative Education Provision.
Within this role Emma was a key figure in the Senior Leadership Team that led the provision through two 'Good with Outstanding Features' Ofsted inspections. Emma has recently played a senior role in changing a school from adequate into being an 'outstanding' Ofsted ready school.
Emma has a vast amount of experience in ensuring EHC Plans, statements of SEN and PEPs are in place for all students that need them. In her personal time Emma enjoys rugby, metal detecting and walking her dog.
Deborah Bridger MA Hons
Debbie initially started her career in industry, working for 10 years across a range of departments, including spending 6 months working in Germany and then working as a Marketing Manager, having obtained an honours degree in Business Studies.
Debbie has two children, one of whom has severe learning and physical disabilities. This led her into the start of a new career in education, working at first with people and children with special educational needs.
Debbie obtained a Certificate in Education and a Certificate in Special Needs Education and a Master's degree in Education, studying curriculum and assessment and diversity in education. Debbie became a teacher trainer, specialising in special needs education and teaching on a range of courses, including the Certificate in Education and honours degree in Education and Training. Debbie then moved on to working in Alternative Education for young people excluded from school, with responsibility for quality and curriculum across the county. Debbie became an Ofsted additional inspector 10 years ago and was trained to inspect all schools, including independent schools. For the last 6 years of her full time career, Debbie became Deputy Principal (Quality and Curriculum) of a specialist school and college, both of which moved from a previous satisfactory grade to good in that time. Since her retirement, Debbie has volunteered as an Independent School Management Committee Chair and also works part time as an Education consultant. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys gardening and various arts and crafts and spending time with her family.
N.B. the first day back for Term 1 2019 – 2020 will be Thursday 29th August 2019
Bank Holidays 2018 - 2019:
Every member of staff are aware of the young people's needs and issues and are able to manage them in a patient and tolerant way. The young people are treated as individuals and given huge respect.
Great pastoral care. A strong love for the child and will for them to succeed.
Can I thank you and your staff for the support you are providing to... it's great to see them engaging again. I was also proud of their achievements and the level of work they showed me when I attended their last CLA review. It is obvious they are enjoying being in education.
If more people in the world had your approach, drive and determination to do the right thing for children, it would be a much better place. Your team clearly share your ethos.
The management and staff are exceptional at this school, dedicated and hard working.
I think it's the best school I've ever been to.
I've been in many educational provisions and this is the only one that has worked for me'.
The School's strengths:
I have worked with Soo Finn professionally for over 14 years, both as a colleague and education advisor, mostly recently in an independent school for 'looked-after' children with attachment issues and complex needs and consequent serious psychological and behavioural difficulties. Soo is very creative in her thinking and developing of both staff and pupils and works tirelessly to create an exciting and differentiated curriculum and activities to motivate and engage hard to reach pupils and young people. The school was deemed to be 'outstanding' as a result of the hard work and dedication of Soo, as recognised by myself and a consultant Ofsted inspector. Soo is an outstanding leader of a school, with an expertise in vulnerable, hard to reach learners of any age and has shown over the years to be able to engage these children in education and give them a positive outlook for their future.
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