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What says..

Think of the most creative and relaxed lessons that you had as a child and imagine having one of those for every class. The pupils have a carte blanche to learn in a manner that works for them; lessons feel more like conversations– two-way, questioning and considered. The pastoral care here is second to none and on a level that is incredibly hard to match in a large mainstream setting – which is probably why they have more than their fair share of ‘refugees turned phenomenal success stories’ from other schools. Don’t be fooled by its alternative approach…

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What the school says...

Sands is one of only two Democratic Schools in the United Kingdom. In a democratic school there is no headteacher and no hierarchy: the school is jointly managed by students and staff.

At Sands this is done through a weekly school meeting where all aspects of the running of the school are discussed and decided together. This includes offering places to new students and appointing members of staff.

Individual students are supported in taking responsibility for their own learning - they choose what to study and there is great flexibility about when and how they learn. This freedom and sense of ownership is the basis for a completely different approach to learning, where the student is actively engaged rather than having education 'done to them'.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


When they say ‘democratic education’, they mean it. There is no head here and no hierarchy whatsoever. Everyone’s opinions, from pupils to teachers and support staff, are valid and impactful. The school is run, managed and governed by the central core principle of democracy: ‘We are all equal and we all have a voice in how our school is run.’ If there is a management of any sort, it is the school meeting. Held every Thursday afternoon, with attendance from every member of the school community, this meeting determines what happens at the school, and how. Chaired by pupils, every member of the school, young or old, has a chance to speak and discuss every issue on the agenda – itself built up during the week via a white board in the main corridor...

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Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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Who goes where

Special Education Needs

Special educational needs are addressed by all the staff in the school. As we have small classes and a very student-centred approach to each student, there is no clear distinction between students with special needs who get extra support and everyone else; there is a gradual transition. Likewise, in different subjects and on different days students will need varying amounts of extra support and, as far as possible, the staff try to provide that support both in and out of class. In general the provision from within the regular school budget is a balance between the level of need and the resources available. Where possible special needs provision will be met through: i) Extra attention in class from the class teachers. This is made possible by our small classes. ii) Extra support outside class. This is not formal extra lessons, but most teachers make time for certain students when they are having difficulty. iii) Having a classroom assistant in class. iv) Having extra lessons in very small groups or one-to-one sessions v) Having a flexible timetable, tailored to work around difficulties in accessing the subject Students with emotional problems, which can present as barriers to learning, also have access to the school’s counsellor. Obviously our level of support is restricted by our resources and staff time. In cases where the local authority will provide extra funding we are able to resource a student better. Likewise, in the case of parents who can afford pay for the resources we can hire further help.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dyslexia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment

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