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What says..

This an infectiously friendly, happy place where everyone meets your eye - they are the only young persons we have ever met who don’t talk up to you or down to you but treat you exactly as if you were one of them. Parents all know each other, of course, and mostly rub along together just fine (lots of high fives and hugs) - ‘We’re one big happy dysfunctional family!’. You’ve sussed there’s not a lot of snarling, tribal rugby going on here, what with the lack of…

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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


No-one. Everybody. Sands is a democratic school, a co-op, so there’s no hierarchy. All decisions are taken collectively by teachers and students at the weekly, student-chaired school meeting, one person, one vote. This applies both to day-to-day decision making and strategic planning, which you’d expect to be the job of governors but at Sands the governors don’t govern in the usual sense, they don’t even get to vote. Nor do parents, by the way.

So Sands has a rationale. But it is not in thrall to a Big Idea. There’s no guru calling the shots here - no Neill, no Steiner, no Hahn, though they do own up to a dash of Tagore. The point is, Sands is not the keeper of anyone’s flame and this frees it up to respond...

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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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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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