ELIS in Context: Schools’ Proprietor’s Vision
Thomas Keaney’s Vision as School Proprietor
My personal vision sees our schools as inclusive, thriving, socially and emotionally healthy communities. This vision is driven by my deeply held belief that human beings thrive in positive environments.
To enable this to happen, East London Independent School’s staff and pupils must be supported to own and deliver the Community and British Values of our schools and services, which are:
1. Very high expectations
2. Hard work
3. Mutual respect and tolerance of all
4. Authentic ‘real’ inclusion
5. Genuine pupil, parent and staff voice and participation
6. A ‘We never give up’ philosophy for our pupils and staff
ELIS is part of TCES Group, a social enterprise where society profits. Our social mission – developing our pupils as tomorrow’s leaders and maximising our pupils’ well-being and future opportunities is more important than profits, which are reinvested back into the social mission and purpose.
This reinvestment includes high staff to pupil ratios of 2:6 and a substantial Clinical offer and Therapeutic Milieu delivered by a large team of specialist clinicians and therapeutically informed and supported staff.
The TCES Group has a Board of Directors who act as a traditional Board of Governors (not a legal entity) for ELIS school, distinctly different to any other School’s Governors. Our Governors are not volunteers but are full time and paid senior managers with substantial experience, qualifications and expertise in areas of Safeguarding, Education, Finance, HR, Facilities, Clinical and Social Work. This provides a significant element of expertise, professionalism and constructive challenge to the substantial support and strategic management that the TCES Group Governing Body provides to East London Independent School.
Pupil Voice and participation
At ELIS we believe that by empowering pupils, who so often feel marginalised, they can actively shape their lives and ongoing education as citizens and take an element of control of their futures.
We believe that the often-unnoticed pathway to removing barriers to learning and increasing self-esteem and success lies within the pupils themselves. We have to allow our pupils to discover their own voices by giving them a real voice to begin with. This challenge cannot be symbolically met by our school and organisation, but must be the central tenet of everything we do. Our pupils must feel empowered to have a strong voice and this voice must be listened to. Evidence of this voice must be seen in the full participation of our pupils in the running of the school and their involvement and full engagement in every aspect of school life.
Parent Voice and participation
At ELIS we recognise that the empowerment of parents through real parental voice and engagement can be a very effective channel for encouraging mass engagement and enabling a school community to be formed. As in many organisations, the active parents are not necessarily representative of the parent body as a whole, with the parents who the school needs to engage with often under-represented. Our School Parent Voice and Participation champion is building relationships with Parents and Carers which reduces their marginalisation and helps them to actively participate in the life of the school.
ELIS is providing a new programme of Leadership training for all pupils. We believe that the often difficult and sometimes traumatic upbringing of some of our pupils instils in them strengths and talents that if channelled properly will lead inevitably to different aspects of leadership. Developing leadership potential has benefits for the individual, their group, the whole school and their communities beyond TCES Group. Leadership development for pupils can shape the positive and promote harmony as well as promoting a strengths-based approach in relation to our pupils by all parents and carers, staff and stakeholders.
Engagement Curriculum (Learning Programmes) for very vulnerable pupils
ELIS offers an engagement curriculum for those pupils who struggle through their ASC or SEMH diagnoses inter-reacting negatively with a wide range of debilitating co-morbidities including anxiety, depression, ADHD, Fragile X, behavioural issues or other mental disorders. These pupils need to engage in small group education through a very personalised and bespoke curriculum to enhance their social, life, group and independence skills and to ensure that they are given both the opportunity and support to develop clear group related career pathways. ELIS provides significant additional resources for these pupils to benefit from our 5 part curriculum. Our one to one Assertive Outreach Tutors attend vocational curriculum and work experience placements with the pupils to ensure that they fully engage. It is accepted that these pupils will need several years of on-going provision to counteract their significant gaps in education and their severe SEN disabilities.
Health, fitness and well-being
ELIS understands the value of improving the life chances of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils by enabling them to develop good self-esteem and personal resilience, which means that pupils are more likely to manage the opportunities and challenges they face as they grow into adults. Developing an understanding of what ‘being healthy’ involves – paying attention to physical, mental and emotional health – is especially important for young people because it’s during childhood and adolescence that life-long habits are often formed.
If pupils know how to achieve balance – being physically active, eating healthy nutritious food, recognising and managing emotions (and risk factors such as stress), getting enough sleep and being able to exist as part of a group – will mean they are more likely to be able to tackle barriers to learning, raise aspirations, and reach their potential. Building on the knowledge of how to be healthy also opens doors to accreditation and career pathways through Leadership Training and Awards and Sports Curriculum. Pupils from KS2 to KS5 can acquire leadership skills with certification and qualifications.
This works extremely well when set against the twin track objectives of every pupil in a TCES Group school receiving training, leading to multiple career pathways and qualifications that are accepted and relevant for further education, training as well as employment. Additional benefits lie in our Young Leaders receiving indirect training on Peer Mentoring skills.
Computing and ICT
ELIS believes in the importance of offering every pupil, no matter what their barriers to learning may be, the essential thinking skills they need to succeed in our digital, connected world. We believe that the computing and ICT curriculum contributes to:
Intellectual development – teaching how to think, problem solve and apply solutions in computing to wider problems in other contexts
Personal development – increasing sense of self-worth, resilience and self-management through the positive experience of creating working solutions to real challenges
Wider understanding of the world – all aspects of human activity are currently being shaped by digital applications
Future employability – each pupil’s access to employment, leisure and life-long learning will be shaped by their digital knowledge, skills and understanding.
Having made a considerable investment in technology, from interactive whiteboards and laptops to tablets, staff skills (and more importantly their confidence), ELIS believes that empowering our pupils to become Digital Leaders is an essential element to our successful whole-school digital learning strategy.
Inclusion Quality Mark
TCES Group is uniquely driven by a vision and principle of real inclusiveness in our school community, where all pupils and not just the most able are a vital part of promoting diversity and the breaking down of all stereotypes that could create division within our school community.
ELIS has a real focus around inclusion, which will result in applying for an Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) in the Autumn term, with our ultimate goal being the full inclusion of our SEMH and ASC pupils together in our new ‘State of the Art’ school in January 2018 and the reduction in bullying at every level. This essential inclusion work is done through individual relationship mentoring as well as group work with multiple groups including; Student Council, Anti-Bullying Council, Community Council, Group Process, Tutor Groups, Group and Celebration Assemblies, Leadership Group training and Group Therapy.
Schools’ Arts Mark for Music and Art
ELIS is working towards the Schools Arts Mark for music, which is a national award scheme managed by the Arts Council, England for recognition of excellence in music, arts and cultural provision. We are showing a real commitment to the development of pupils and teachers in the arts and we plan to demonstrate excellence in the arts within our school and across TCES Group.