TCES Group Latest News & Events

12 Apr 2019

CEO nominated for National Diversity Award

TCES Group’s School Proprietor and CEO Thomas Keaney has been nominated for the ‘Lifetime Achiever’ National Diversity Award.

This year, Thomas and all staff across TCES Group are celebrating the organisation’s birthday, having been established 20 years ago in 1999.

Thomas has been transforming the lives of young people throughout his career for longer than this, however, having had 13 years’ experience in social work before creating TCES Group.

Thomas (middle-right) with pupils and staff during a visit from His Excellency Justice Anthony Carmona, 5th President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (middle-left)


Since 1999, he has led the growth of TCES Group into one of the larger providers of independent school education for pupils with co-morbid SEMH needs or ASC in London and Essex, working with over 3,000 of the most challenging pupils with complex needs. He is proud that he has never permanently excluded one of them.

Thomas has worked to ensure that diversity is reflected throughout school staff and management, and that pupils are surrounded by role models from their own communities and backgrounds.

Embedded across the group, his vision, philosophy and community values promote a culture of ‘school life without labels’. Unusually, SEMH and ASC pupils are taught together and supported to understand their different needs and diagnoses, showing respect and tolerance for one another.

Thomas said: “I’m the luckiest person in the world and privileged to be working with these incredible, talented young leaders who, despite challenges that would knock the rest of us down, display resilience and humour and their amazing personalities on a daily basis.

“My staff team should be rewarded for sticking with and never giving up on our pupils despite often extreme provocation. They make our schools the amazing places that they are and working with these teams is surely my greatest achievement.”

TCES Group are asking for help in getting him the win, as it would be a fantastic way to reflect on the progress the organisation has made in the last 20 years, under Thomas’ leadership.

Visit the nomination page to read more about Thomas and his background, and vote. 

22 Nov 2018

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen becomes patron for TCES Group

Dame Esther’s Patronage recognises 20 years of specialist education for children and young people with complex needs

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline and presenter of the UK’s iconic TV programme ‘That’s Life’, has been named as Patron of TCES Group, to mark the beginning of their 20th anniversary year.

TCES Group is an innovative social enterprise with independent schools based across London and Essex, which has been supporting children aged 7-19 years with complex and co-morbid Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and Social, Emotional, Mental Health (SEMH) needs since 1999.

Dame Esther will now take up the role in order to help raise awareness of how specialist therapeutic education for children and young people can positively transform their lives.

At TCES Group, the approach to teaching children and young people aims to be inclusive and unique. In addition to more traditional class-based teaching of core subjects and a wide range of accredited courses, pupils are taught leadership, and thinking and social skills. The group’s objective is to reintegrate pupils back into the community, ensuring that they keep away from the antisocial behaviours that is so common among excluded pupils today.

Dame Esther Rantzen says:
“I’m delighted to be Patron for TCES Group and to champion these young people.

“I have seen first-hand how this unique formula for therapeutic education can work – how the positive environments and supportive staff team are helping children to build trust and respect.

“During my visit earlier this year, I spoke to a group of mature and confident young people who, despite significant learning challenges, are now embracing education at TCES Group and demonstrating that they are society’s potential young leaders of the future.”

TCES Group CEO and School’s proprietor Thomas Keaney says:
“I’d like to thank Dame Esther on behalf of all of our staff, Governors and especially the children, for agreeing to become our Patron – marking the start of our 20th anniversary year. We are thrilled and honoured.

“Over these past 19 plus years we believe that we have learned, through continuous improvement, how to successfully engage with some of the most complex children and young people in the country, with severe mental health problems, co-morbid autistic spectrum condition and challenging behaviour.

“I am proud to say that we have never permanently excluded one of the 3,000 plus pupils that we have educated in this time. We have been very privileged to support these SEND pupils, many of whom are Children in Care. Without this support too many of these pupils end up becoming negative statistics in terms of unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness or prison. This vital investment in these pupils reduces the emotional cost to the pupils and their families and the long term and very significant financial cost to society”.

15 Nov 2018

Film of Willard Wigan’s visit to North West London Independent School

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.

26 Oct 2018

Watch Create Service London Graduation Ceremony


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 who achieved an amazing  A* in her Art A-level is now attending college as well as Create Service, 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.”

24 Oct 2018

Essex Fresh Start Graduation Ceremony film, September 2018

September 2018, Essex Fresh Start schools held a graduation ceremony at Anglia Ruskin University for year 11 and 12 pupils from both Witham and Clacton schools. Head Teacher Cheryl Rutter addressed the audience of pupils, parents, staff and local authority representatives telling pupils, “we’re really proud of what you’ve achieved.” We produced a film of the event, featuring interviews with pupils and staff, below:


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