'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. When pupils enter the school, there is an initial focus is on their mental health, and how it may impact on their day and their learning. Where a pupil is struggling and where necessary, individual timetables will be adapted so that they are able to achieve at an appropriate pace on the day. Many of our secondary age pupils have missed valuable opportunities to explore what they like, what they are good at, what they need to develop and most importantly, who they are. We ensure that the curriculum contains opportunities for our pupils to discover themselves and how they fit into the world around them.
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 a pupil. Understanding their holistic needs means that the most effective strategies can be put in place to promote their growth and aid their progression. All strategies and individual plans will flow and adapt to the ongoing needs of the pupils.
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 ensure that we remain up to date in our knowledge and add 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:
Pupil’s Evaluation Comments about Cherry Tree
"I feel very passionate about this school. It has changed my life hugely in such a short amount of time and I know I would not be the person I am today without this place. I would be completely lost without Cherry Tree. This school came into my life at the most difficult time and it has saved me. I never knew a school like this even existed and I am so grateful for everything". (Pupil Feb 2022)
"It is a really positive and supportive place and everyone has my best interests at heart" (Pupil Feb 2022)
"It is the best school in the world and I learn a lot" (Pupil Feb 2022)
"It is an amazing place. Anything that could or would be going wrong outside of school I know I could turn to the school and they would do whatever they can to help me and others" (Pupil Feb 2022)
"I feel like I am always being supported at this school" (Pupil Feb 2022)
"This school has made a big difference on my behaviour from the start. I have learnt a lot at this school since I started. Everything at this school has made a big difference in every way." (Pupil July 2021)
"I have overcome the fear of succeeding and the school has taught me to be grateful for my success and not to fear it. It has also taught me to be kind to myself when I need to be" (Pupil July 2021)
"I always look forward to go to school and I am happy here. I feel good when I am here" (Pupil July 2021)
"I feel this school has helped me prepare for my future and is very involved when it comes to personal growth. Teachers at this school are all helpful and understanding" (Pupil July 2021)
Parents / Carers Evaluation Comments about Cherry Tree
"The support that the pupils get is outstanding" (Parent / Carer Feb 2022)
"The communication and individual learning is exceptional" (Parent / Carer Feb 2022)
"The behavioural approach the school has for my ward perfectly works in tune with my approach at home. They have a nurturing and caring side. Just everything the school does!" (Parent / Carer Feb 2022)
"Communication, constant support, holistic approach, absolutely everything you do is brilliant" (Parent / Carer Feb 2022)
"The support you offer is out of this world, the constant contact with the young person, absolutely amazing. When the young person couldn’t come in over Christmas you guys showed every inch of support and made it incredible. This school is so good, it makes me want to cry sometimes" (Parent / Carer Feb 2022)
"Commitment to the young people and their progress and welfare. Its not just a school, there is an holistic approach that encompasses the pupils" (Parent / Carer July 2021)
"The school’s interaction and communication with home along with your holistic approach is outstanding" (Parent / Carer July 2021)
"Support pupils get and contact with home is so strong" (Parent / Carer July 2021)
Staff / Volunteer Evaluation Comments about Cherry Tree
"The school consistently supports all staff and pupils. No issue is ignored and everybody’s opinions are listened to and understood" (Staff Feb 2022)
"The support and encouragement the school gives to all staff and pupils. Everyone is accepted and included, it is a safe, calm and welcoming place." (Staff Feb 2022)
"Constant support for pupils, staff and parents / carers, exceptional management and always striving for the best outcome" (Staff Feb 2022)
"Always have the pupil’s best interest at the forefront of what they do, high expectations of all pupils no matter what learning levels or diagnosis, always adapting to new changes and the pupils have a voice. Briefing, debriefings are essential to managing both pupils and staff development, always improving and never stands still" (Staff Feb 2022)
"The pupils are always the top priority. The school and especially the leaders support pupils and families outside of the normal working day and go over and above with supporting the whole family. Cherry Tree leaders will challenge when needed for the best outcome for the young person and are pro-active in the wrap around service for the family. We will carry on developing the school and adapt to the needs of the young person." (Staff July 2021)
"Cherry Tree is brilliant at looking and focusing on the individual need of both pupils and staff. Leadership is great and supportive. At Cherry Tree, individuality is encouraged. We are all adaptable as a team". (Staff July 2021)
"Everybody has the opportunity to be heard. This includes staff and pupils, nobody is ever judged and everybody is given the opportunity to reach their full potential". (Staff July 2021)
"I have worked with Soo Finn professionally for over 15 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." (Volunteer - Retired Ofsted Additional Inspector, Retired Deputy Principal of a specialist school and college, and Education Consultant and Advisor 2021)
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 as a Headteacher in an independent school and led a staff team to change an ‘adequate’ school into an outstanding ‘Ofsted ready’ school (pre-Ofsted inspection report March 2017). In her spare time Soo enjoys upcycling, gardening and is writing a book about her life experiences.
Emma Brown QTLS
Emma has worked with vulnerable children and young people for over 20 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 are in place for all pupils that need them. In her personal time Emma enjoys rugby, metal detecting and walking.
Until 2012 Jo worked for Kent County Council and in her last role, as County SEN Operations Manager, she had overarching responsibility for the SEN assessment teams. She worked at both a strategic level with Members and Directors developing options for future SEN services, working hard to translate these strategies into effective operational practice working alongside multiagency partners and special school headteachers. Jo was part of SEN7 (7 councils) who worked closely with partners such as, Council for Disabled Children, responding to the changes in SEN legislation around the implementation of Education Health Care Plans, and reporting directly to the DfE.
In 2012, Jo moved into a senior leadership role in a Kent maintained autism specific day and residential special school where she was a Designated Safeguarding Lead and also the Designated LAC Teacher. One of Jo’s key responsibilities was to ensure parents were supported effectively and her work included reviewing the quality of Education Health Care Plan, chairing annual reviews, attending multidisciplinary meetings, preparing cases for SEND tribunal and ensuring effective transition to post 19 providers. Jo currently works as a SEND Advocate supporting parents in navigating the complexities of the SEN system.
In her spare time Jo enjoys reading, exercising, looking after two boisterous grandsons and cups of coffee and slices of cake in various establishments across East Kent.
N.B. first day back for pupils for Term 1 2022-2023 is 5th September 2022
Bank Holidays not included in term times above:
Please note that these dates could change in the event of any urgent or unforeseen circumstances.
N.B. first day back for pupils for Term 1 2023 – 2024 is 4th September 2023 (staff return on to work on 29th August 2023)
Please note that these dates could change in the event of any urgent or unforeseen circumstances.
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