TCES Group Latest News & Events

27 Sep 2018

‘This is Britain at its best’

Sculptor Willard Wigan, MBE with North West London Independent School pupil Adam

North West London Independent School welcomed micro-sculptor Willard Wigan MBE, who visited the school and spoke of the pupils’ ‘tidal wave of talent’, encouraging them to embrace their learning differences.

Willard, creator of the world’s smallest handmade sculptures in history, enthralled pupils and staff at the Acton-based school, showcasing his microscopic art by way of visual aids. The internationally renowned-artist also brought in microscopes, enabling pupils to discover an enticing world carved from a variety of materials that can sit within the eye of a needle, or the end of an eyelash.

Willard spoke of his own experiences as a child at school in the Midlands, where he struggled with autism and dyslexia. He spoke of being ‘blessed, not bitter’ about his diagnoses, encouraging pupils to embrace their ‘hidden talents’ as a gift to the world. Addressing his audience, Willard advised: “Don’t underestimate the tidal wave of talent at North West London Independent School. This is where it is: the pupils here are unique. Some of the best engineers in the world could come from here. This is Britain at its best.”

Year 11 pupil and Co-President of the Student Council, Rochelle – accompanied by fellow Student Council member Bailey – confidently and articulately toured the school with Willard. Particularly impressed with the school’s art department, Willard spoke to several pupils, including post-16 student Michael, who played his film ‘Stormie and Friends’ (a self-taught series, created with the Stop motion animated-film making technique). Fellow post-16 art student Myles was particularly impressed with Willard’s sculptures and managed to photograph them by pointing his camera onto the microscope lens.

TCES Group CEO & Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney reflected, “What an amazing day at North West London Independent School. Willard Wigan is the most inspirational man who talked to our pupils about his Asperger’s Syndrome gifts and being bullied and ignored by teachers. Now he makes micro-sculptures, one given to the Queen, and he is an MBE.”

To find out more about Willard Wigan, please visit his website at

Willard Wigan MBE with CEO & Schools’ proprietor Thomas Keaney

08 Oct 2018

North West London Independent School introduces Alumni Peer Mentorship Programme

North West London Independent School have begun an exciting Alumni Peer Mentorship Programme, providing support and guidance to the school’s pupils. This is the first  of its kind in TCES Group’s twenty-year history. Former students Hussein, Laquain and Nick were interviewed by staff members with respect to them joining the school in an entirely new capacity – as members of the staff team.

Alumni Peer Mentors will be participating in the school’s Group Process Sessions, working with tutor groups and facilitating assemblies to assist staff in delivering key messages to pupils.  Above all, the mentors will inspire and encourage leadership and positivity in our younger pupils.

Said TCES Group CEO and Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney, “I’ve interviewed hundreds of staff over the years but never have I interviewed such passionate, talented students who really want to make a difference. Their special needs backgrounds are where their talents come from and all three will be an absolute asset to their mentees. I’m so proud. This is a very exciting milestone that embodies our values: nurture, attachment, very high expectations and a never give up staff attitude.”

More on this story to follow!

08 Oct 2018

Essex Fresh Start Student Council presentations

Newly-elected Student Council members at Essex Fresh Start Schools in Witham and Clacton brilliantly presented their ideas for the forthcoming academic year to the staff Management Development Group (MDG) last Friday. The pupils were also able to ask staff for advice about their projects.

The Clacton Student Council (top photograph) – brilliantly represented by Kavanagh and Harrison, told the audience about the exciting new initiatives that the council are focusing on this year – including further improvements to the outside space, improving the dining hall and a special Halloween day at school. 

Witham student council proudly presenting their Living Landscape Award to the MDG and talking about their achievements to date (middle).

27 Sep 2018

Leadership Week at TCES Group

EFS pupils designed leaflets and wrote poems in support of their local soup kitchen

This week has been Leadership Week across the TCES Group of schools. Our leadership curriculum was launched in June 2017, with each school participating in Leadership Week, designed to teach leadership skills by introducing a variety of exciting activities for pupils to participate in.  Every TCES Group pupil from KS2 upwards now has the opportunity to take part in leadership skills training.  We believe that by learning to understand themselves, pupils develop strengths and talents in leadership that offer benefits for the individual, their group, the whole school and their communities beyond TCES Group.

Pupils progress to mentoring their peers and to taking on leadership roles within school, such as election to Student Council.  

Essex Fresh Start School in Clacton kicked off Leadership Week events with their Nurture Group supporting the local soup kitchen; a combined Harvest Festival activity. As part of the programme, pupils have designed leaflets to support their Harvest Festival collection which will then be presented in person to a representative at the soup kitchen. Each pupil has also written brilliant poems in support of their efforts to help those less fortunate than themselves. 

East London Independent school pupils took part in a leadership assembly, with pupil Ale taking the lead with his role as assembly technician.

Create London pupils learned about the leadership roles that are available within the Student Council programme at Custom House, and North West London Independent School drew inspiration from a recent visit to their school by the sculptor Willard Wigan, MBE. Willard has utilised his talents as a person with autism to become a record-breaking artist, creating microscopic sculptures that has seen him receive an MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace – and gain a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. As part of Leadership Week, pupils from the school took part in Student Council presentations and created some artwork around the concepts of leadership versus fame.


North West London pupils take part in student council presentations







East London pupils learn what it takes to become a leader

27 Sep 2018

East London Independent School presented with IQM award at official ceremony in Pall Mall

Pupil Antony, Head Teacher Sandra Harrison and Kevin Parker, School Improvement Partner, proud recipients of the IQM award

In June 2018 East London Independent School was awarded the Inclusion Quality Mark Award (IQM) and on Tuesday representatives from the school proudly attended the official presentation ceremony at the Institute of Directors in London’s Pall Mall. Accompanying  East London Independent School’s Head Teacher Sandra Harrison was Yr 9 pupil Antony, School Improvement Partner Kevin Parker and Pastoral Care Co-Ordinator Leona Talian.

Both TCES Group London-based schools have now achieved this prestigious award – North West London Independent School was awarded the IQM in 2017.

The IQM scheme allows for the exploration of all aspects of education within the school, with the process affording a complete snapshot of school life. The IQM award provides evidence of all the incredible hard work that is ongoing at ELIS.

View East London Independent School’s IQM report here
Pupil Antony with staff members Sandra Harrison and Leona Talian at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall


24 Sep 2018

Create Service London celebrates success


Head Teacher Tony Meehan


Tony Meehan with Equality Ambassador and Student Council representative Sean




Staff, pupils and parents gathered at Create Service London on Friday 21 September to celebrate the achievements of pupils in an uplifting Graduation Ceremony at Custom House.

Several pupils are moving across to East London Independent School, affording them the opportunity to transition back into the school environment. Other pupils were recognised for their positive engagement and personal development throughout the academic year. One pupil Kerrie, who achieved an A* in her Art A-level, leaves Create Service to attend college, with the hope of completing a university degree in the future.

Student council representatives proudly showed groups of parents around the site at Custom House before the ceremony commenced in the main hall.

Head Teacher Tony Meehan praised the “dedicated staff”  who “make sure these young people achieve, helping them to self-sufficiency and offering something positive to society.” Mr. Meehan went on to add, “Learning is what gets you moving on in life. At Create Service we aim to capture what learning really is and discover our pupils’ hidden talents.”

17 Sep 2018

Annual Graduation Ceremony celebrates achievements of Essex pupils


Graduate Ryan with Head Teacher Cheryl Rutter

As we leave the summer term behind us and welcome in the start of a new academic year, and a very busy autumn term for TCES Group schools, we pause collectively to celebrate the vast and impressive achievements of our Y11 and Y12 pupils from Essex Fresh Start Schools at their annual Graduation Ceremony at Chelmsford’s Anglia Ruskin University.

The ceremony, held on Friday 14 September, saw pupils, parents, staff and Local Authority representatives gather to celebrate the achievements of the 24 pupils who graduated from the schools in Witham and Clacton at the end of the summer term.

Head Teacher Cheryl Rutter delivered an impassioned speech to an attentive audience, praising pupils for their hard work in gaining a variety of qualifications (GCSEs, BTECs are just a few examples). In fact, 83% of Essex Fresh Start pupils left school in summer 2018 with a qualification.

A number of awards were presented by key figures from TCES Group, and Thurrock Council representative Gwen Trapp: ‘Most Improved Performance’  was awarded to Ryan; William was recognised for his ‘Most Improved Behaviour’; the ‘Attendance’ award was handed to Aeron and Joshua achieved the ‘Contribution to School Council’ award. Said Joshua, “I think other children that need help should go there (EFS).”

TCES Group and Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney described the ceremony as ‘inspirational’. He went on to add: “24 SEND pupils with a number of children in care graduated from our Essex Fresh Start schools. Multiple talented pupils with lots of qualifications but as importantly lots of values and life skills. Parents/carers and graduates told us that they never expected to make it with their SEND and with children in care’s multiple moves. But an amazing staff team who through nurture, care, attachment and trauma-informed practice supported our young leaders to achieve multiple qualifications and college courses. So proud.”

Said Gwen Trapp, SEN Manager of Children’s Services at Thurrock Council, “This evening was really lovely and something to celebrate. The confidence in the pupils is evident and they continue to progress.”

Many of the graduating pupils have gained places on courses at local colleges. One such pupil, Ryan, has graduated from EFS with a Level 1 mechanics course and is now attending Ottley College in Ipswich to study a one-year level 2 mechanics course, with a view to gaining a mechanics apprenticeship. Ryan said, “EFS has really helped me out. I’ve progressed a huge amount.” His dad added, “I wish Ryan had started here (EFS) earlier, His attitude changed completely; there was no hope before. I’m so proud of what he’s achieved.”

To read more about Essex Fresh Start, download their brochure here: EFS-brochure_

If you require information about the services TCES Group offer to post-16 pupils, please read our leaflet here: Post-16 leaflet


24 Aug 2018

TCES Group schools celebrate GCSE successes

Deputy Head Teacher Dale Brown described yesterday’s GCSE results day at North West London Independent School (NWLIS) as an “emotional day for pupils and staff” as pupils arrived to collect their results. Head Teacher Katrina Medley, Art Teacher Paul Morris and School Business Coordinator Saima Nisco were also present at the school, where they offered their congratulations to the Y11 pupils collecting their GCSE results.

Once again, Paul Morris’ Art Department achieved a 100% pass rate with some excellent grades in art awarded to NWLIS’ accomplished pupils: Aaron A and Kayne achieved a fantastic grade 6 (the new equivalent of a B grade), grade 5 (B/C equivalent) was awarded to Todd, Aaron O, Hussein and Tariq and Nick received a grade 4 (C grade).

Leading the way in NWLIS’ GCSE successes was pupil Myles who gained a phenomenal grade 6 in English, Hussein who achieved a grade 4 in PE and 5 in art and Nick who scored three grade 4’s in maths, PE and art.

Commented Dale Brown, “It was an emotional day at NWLIS for the pupils and the staff. It is the beginning of their journey onto the next step towards further education or employment.”

Over at Essex Fresh Start School,  two pupils achieved a grade 4 in English and maths and twenty-four pupils gained at least one entry -level award. Eight pupils achieved at least one BTEC award at level 1 or level 2. 

TCES Group CEO & Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney remarked, “Many of our SEND pupils and children in care passed their GCSEs and received excellent grades. Consider their starting places and that previous schools had given up on them, they are true heroes.”


Deputy Head Teacher Katrina Medley with pupil Kayne (top) and Tariq.

17 Aug 2018

First ever TCES Group pupil awarded A* A Level

A level results day 2018 produced an outstanding result for one talented Create London pupil in what CEO Thomas Keaney describes as “a very big day in the milestone of TCES Group.”

Pupil Kerrie was awarded a phenomenal A* in her Art A level. This is the first time that any TCES Group pupil has ever achieved an A-level, and to accomplish this at the highest grade possible makes her result all the more remarkable.

Said Kerrie: “Thank you! It’s actually the highest grade I’ve ever gotten in anything and I feel proud of myself.”

CEO and Schools’ Proprietor Thomas Keaney immediately issued the following statement:

This is a very big day in the milestone of TCES Group. It is our first announced A* A Level (Art) at Create Service.

That this young lady is also our first ever A* as a care-experienced young person (a young person who is in Public Care) is an even bigger accolade to her and to the team around her.

The pupil’s tutor provided the support, nurture and relational (attachment based) work to help her along the way. That part is always the most difficult but also the most rewarding. An amazing achievement and my personal thanks for the wonderful job that she has done. This is your legacy: “People forget what you say, they forget what you did, but they never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.

We are awaiting other results and accomplishments from all TCES Group schools and although not every result will be an A*, they will be an A* for the pupil and countless staff that work tirelessly for our pupils’ benefit. When we consider their starting points, they have done better than anyone anticipated before joining us and it is a testament to our staff that these pupils had the courage to overcome multiple barriers to sit their exams.

This success is heralded from our Community Values which significantly apply to the Create Service as it enters its next phase as a step-down service preparing our pupils for mainstream life through transitions and integrations into our TCES Group schools, mainstream colleges, training, employment and university. These Community Values (high expectations, hard work, mutual respect and tolerance, genuine inclusion, real pupil voice and participation and most of all a ‘NEVER give up’ attitude) are so incredibly apt in this instance.

This is just the start – how many more pupils and staff across the group will be inspired by these amazing stories of success to reach for the stars. As John W Gardner said, “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

Thank you for making my summer holidays so much brighter.


29 Jun 2018

Official opening of East London Independent School’s state-of-the-art building by Dame Esther Rantzen DBE

East London Independent School’s new state-of-the-art building in Stratford, east London has been officially opened by Dame Esther Rantzen DBE.

The respected TV presenter and journalist joined pupils, parents, staff and special guests on Friday 29 June to see how the school has extended its site by redeveloping a church building that dates back to 1775. The £1.5m redevelopment means the school will be able to almost double its intake from 38 to 70.

During the opening event, Dame Esther Rantzen and other guests toured the school and saw that the refurbished church now boasts six new classrooms, as well as a double art room and state-of-the-art classrooms for science, ICT and food technology. There is also a new school hall, two sensory rooms, and an excellent outside space.

To accommodate it all, the single storey church building has been converted to two storeys, retaining all the existing windows that now cast light both upstairs and downstairs. The school’s specially designed low-arousal, autism-friendly environment suits all pupils at the school, regardless of their individual needs.

The school is part of TCES Group. The social enterprise has been supporting young people aged 7-19 years with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) or autism spectrum conditions (ASC) for almost 20 years.

Uniquely, at TCES Group schools, pupils of all abilities and disabilities learn alongside each other in a general education setting supported by a skilled team of educators.

In June 2018, the school was awarded the Inclusion Quality Mark Award (IQM). IQM is the only national award for inclusion and provides validation of current practice in UK schools. The school has also been rated Outstanding by Ofsted.

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE said:

“It was a privilege to open this remarkable school building and see the amazing new spaces that have been created to support pupils with special education needs. This building represents the school’s commitment to integration, and their inclusive approach means that more young people in east London will be educated locally and get the support they need. I’m sure staff and pupils will enjoy and benefit greatly from their new facilities.”

Thomas Keaney, CEO and Schools’ Proprietor of TCES Group, said:

“By converting this church, we’ve shown what can be achieved when you remove labels and dare to be ambitious. The new school building complements our unique and innovative approach to education. It will enable us to support more young people with a range of different and often complex needs.

“Although it is often necessary to label children initially to ensure that they can get the support they need, we strongly believe that they should not then be segregated and divided according to their support needs. Labels are debilitating and can hold back children and young people. 

“Our inspiring new school building will enable us to seamlessly bring together pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs or an autism spectrum condition and ensure that they can achieve the very best in life.”