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Arvalee School Resource Centre, Omagh

The story of the Shared Campus Journey to design

 

Shared Education and Arvalee School: Success for All Children

We have a history of working with others across the Omagh community and wider afield to share our skills, abilities and knowledge to enhance learning for the children and young people with learning difficulties. We make every effort to help create an inclusive community for all young people.

We believe that 'sharing works' and with the launch of the DE policy by the same name, Arvalee School is moving forward and being proactive to engage with other schools and community groups in Omagh to support learning of children across Omagh as well as in Arvalee.

In Arvalee School we are not interested in competing with anyone, we want all children to succeed.

Currently we take this forward in three areas within our Educational Community, namely

  • Our support for other schools in the Omagh district and across Northern Ireland
  • Our work in the Omagh Learning Community
  • Our development work as part of the Shared Education Campus Omagh

Our support for other schools

As part of a wide community of schools we strive with our colleagues to support all pupils achieve. Over the years this support has resulted in pupils succeeding in their schools and if necessary transferring to Arvalee. This has also been successful for some of our pupils and on a number of occasions pupils we have been supported their transition to other Primary and Post Primary schools in the area.

Historically Arvalee School managed a Learning Support Department who provided outreach support for pupils with MLD and SEBD. This support proved to be very effective and the ETI indicated that it had 'outstanding qualities' in 2008. However this has been centralised with the Education Authority so we have developed new approaches to support children learning across Omagh.

We also piloted SENCO support in local schools (2006/07) when we placed a member of our staff in a local school one day a week to work with pupils referred by the SENCO and support staff through advising on teaching strategies and resources which may support the child learning and achieving in the school.

Both of these important approaches highlighted the need for building staff capacity, reviewing resources available to the pupils and build on the strengths that are in all the schools to make learning a success for all. Through our learning from these experiences Arvalee School currently tries to facilitate the following approaches on request from local schools.

  • Staff sharing session: Staff from local schools can arrange a visit to observe the teaching and learning, view resources and/or talk to the class Teacher and Classroom Assistant staff regarding the strategies we deploy and how classroom management supports pupils successful learning. This must be prearranged with the Principal and the Class Teacher. The visiting school must complete an evaluation of the support so we can improve what we offer.
  • Ongoing pupil reviews: Our Pastoral Team is focused on positive transitions between schools to ensure that the educational placement is appropriate for the pupil. This has meant that short-term inclusive links have been facilitated on a timeframe with closely monitored targets. Arvalee School closely monitors pupil learning to assess if a placement in another school would be the best for the child. This is prearranged with the local school Principal and the EA officer and may be dependent on additional resource.

As part of Arvalee's Annual Review Process, the Self-Evaluation process and our tracking pupil learning procedures we continually review the needs of our pupils. This process has lead to pupils transferring to a local School.

  • Education Peer guidance: This opportunity mainly occurs over the phone when guidance is required. It is often to give advice to a colleague where they can source the required support or information and this may lead to a further prearranged Staff Sharing Support Session.
  • Leadership support for SEN: Arvalee School has informally supported schools and other organisations in developing Individualised Learning Plans and in reviewing their curriculum and teaching strategies to promote inclusion. 

We are conscious that we do not have all the answers and we want sharing to be two way. We learn so much from our experiences with other schools, professionals, parents and most of all, the children

Our work in the Omagh Learning Community

The Omagh Learning Community is made up of ourselves with the following organisations

  • Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore
  • Sacred Heart College
  • Omagh Academy GS
  • Loreto GS
  • St John's Business and Enterprise School, Dromore
  • Omagh High School
  • Drumragh Int College
  • Omagh CBS GS
  • South West College, Omagh Campus

 The main aim of the Community is to explore sharing and collaboration to enhance the curriculum offer for pupils in KS4 and Post 16. Arvalee School's main focus is on the curriculum offered for pupils with Learning Difficulties or who need an alternative provision to ensure that every pupil has the courses that meet their needs and give them the skills for life after school

Currently we are developing a Foundation Learning Course that has supported pupils from across the community in learning and achieving. This course is based on the individual needs of the pupils and is pitched accordingly. The content may include achievements from Entry Level 1-3 as well as level 1 and 2 depending on the pupil’s level of ability.

OLC Foundation Learning Course that is hosted in Arvalee School includes areas such as

  • CCEA Essential Skills: English and/or Mathematics
  • Prince's Trust xl: Personal Development/Learning for Life and Work 

Our work on the OLC continues to develop and we continue to look at opportunities of supporting pupils to learn together, create friendships and achieve at the appropriate level to support them to grow, learn and achieve.

Our development work as part of the Shared Education Campus Omagh

Arvalee School is one of the 6 schools that will be situated on a Shared Education Campus in Omagh. The other partner schools are

  • Sacred Heart College
  • Omagh Academy GS
  • Loreto GS
  • Omagh High S
  • Omagh CBS GS

 Currently the Principals are meeting every Tuesday to consider how the schools could increase sharing to enhance the education of all the pupils. The plans are in place to build two shared facilities one for Sports and Physical Education and the other for Post 16 students focusing on the learning areas that are currently being agreed amongst the schools. These agreed areas will develop over time as sharing becomes embedded across the Schools. It is also recognised that placing the schools on a campus will also mean that pupils can move between schools and access specialties and learning areas occurring within the schools. 

In Arvalee School, we believe in developing our provision to be a Shared facility and we have designated a room to create opportunities for shared classes, shared staff development and for staff sharing.

As we develop our links we are excited about the opportunities that this provides for pupils to access a range of learning experiences and build an inclusive community.

 

For more information regarding our progress in this area please contact the Principal, Jonathan Gray

 
 

Department of Education and Shared Education

For the Department of Education Policy for Shared Education go to the link below;

https://www.deni.gov.uk/topics/schools-and-infrastructure/shared-education

 

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