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On a leafy road in Cambridge opposite the college playing fields (which they share), the school occupies three adjacent buildings, all imaginatively extended and modernised. The role music plays in school life is evident. The purpose-built music school is set around a courtyard with a fountain playing, one’s ears greeted with the sound of trumpet practice or piano lessons issuing from one of the many practice rooms. The art room opens off the garden and is an enticing space with facilities for every possible kind of creativity, textiles, pottery, weaving, papier mâché and oil painting and an emphasis on…

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Other features

Choir school - substantial scholarships and bursaries usually available for choristers.


Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.



What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2016, Neil Chippington MA (Cantab) FRCO, previously head of St Paul’s Cathedral School. After reading music at Gonville and Caius, where he was also organ scholar, he was briefly employed teaching and as organist at Cranleigh (a school he himself attended) and this led to him deciding on a career in teaching. First at Winchester, where he taught music and was housemaster for eight years, then moving to St Paul’s, a co-ed choir school, in 2009. As a gifted musician, he understands from experience what is expected of the choristers in his care, although his dedication is very much to the whole school and the education of every pupil. Unstuffy and easy to talk to, with an engaging, almost boyish appearance and the lean greyhound build of the serious runner (which he is)....

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Special Education Needs

‘‘Each child is special: each child has needs: each child has special needs. These are truths as old as time, carried in the heart of any parent and any good teacher.’ (K L Jones, Head) As set out in the school’s Ethos and Aims, we aim ‘to meet the individual needs, foster the aptitudes and nurture the growth of each child.’ In this sense, the school’s Individual Needs provision is part of a wider commitment to helping any child to discover his or her ability. The provisions of SENDA aside, we do not view learning difficulties as disabling but rather as obstacles to fulfilling potential which, with appropriate support, can in many cases be overcome. This difference of emphasis has significant consequences. It is by no means the case that learning difficulties are experienced only by the less able. Indeed, the problems encountered by the most gifted children can require considerable specialist attention. St John’s is therefore committed to meeting the needs of children who have an identified learning difficulty, whatever their innate ability. It is worthy of note, in this respect, that many children who gain academic awards to their senior schools have, at some point, been given Individual Needs support. While the Individual Needs department’s Procedure for Referral and Organisation of Provision (PROP) follows the approach recommended by the DfES Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001, the school far exceeds any statutory obligations in its approach to identifying and meeting a child’s needs. St John’s has specialist staff, trained and qualified to assess, recognise and deal with learning problems throughout the age and ability range. We do not have a separate Individual Needs ‘unit’ because the close relationship and constant communication between individual needs and mainstream teachers (many wear both hats) is an essential factor in the early identification and the continuing management of any difficulty. As a consequence, ‘internal’ assessment of children is commonplace when a difficulty has been observed and has been discussed with parents. In a similar vein, the ‘threshold’ of intervention is much lower than in most schools. The vast majority of children in receipt of support will have very mild or mild specific learning difficulties. For many of these, the provision will be relatively short term, addressing a particular concern at a particular time. For others, support may be needed throughout their time at the school and beyond. The level of awareness of all staff is very high. There is an ‘Action Plan’ for every child in the school which is constantly updated and formally reviewed and attention to the individual child is a part of the culture. For children with learning difficulties, through specific training and through involvement in framing each child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), the mainstream teachers are made fully aware of any child’s difficulties and can therefore plan their teaching accordingly. In this respect, all children benefit greatly from the teachers’ awareness of different learning styles, irrespective of whether they have a learning difficulty. The level of communication with home is, likewise, very high. Parents are informed of any concern, give their permission for any assessment, discuss the outcomes of such assessment in detail with the staff concerned and are fully involved thereafter in the creation and regular updating of a child’s IEP. They meet formally and informally with a child’s Individual Needs teacher to discuss progress and agree action. The school is able to refer children to a wide range of outside agencies (Educational Psychologists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Optometrists, etc) all of whom work in close co-operation with the Individual Needs department. Any such referral is discussed with parents before it goes ahead and the outcome of any assessment is communicated to all mainstream teaching staff. The effect of a learning difficulty on a child’s self-esteem is of paramount concern. While the identification of a difficulty is naturally a cause for concern to parents, it is almost always a source of comfort to the child. To know that there is a difficulty and that you will be helped to overcome it is a reassuring process and, while children’s self-esteem is very closely monitored and carefully nurtured by the department and by the staff as a whole, being given Individual Needs support is felt as positive by the vast majority of children concerned. It is a matter of pride, in this respect, that our children will talk openly and without embarrassment to prospective parents about their difficulties. The range of Individual Needs teaching, as outlined below, is wide and will vary according to a child’s needs. • At Byron House, we offer small group Enrichment English and Mathematics support and Motor Skills Groups free of charge. The School may also provide, free of charge, one Individual Needs lesson in the Pre-Prep. • All Individual Needs tuition in Form 1 and above is charged to parents. • At Senior House, a range of provision is made, free of charge. Enrichment classes in English continue and Spelling and Listening Skills clubs are offered to children who would benefit from the small group support. Small groups of children are also invited to attend Touch Typing classes if their needs warrant this provision. Curriculum support is also available to those who do not study Latin in Forms 4-6. In Form 6, children who would benefit from extra help to develop study skills and examination technique attend short courses in small groups. The school has a library of laptops for those children who will benefit from their use in the classroom. In due course, some children will move on to home owned laptops. Provision for the use of laptops in examinations is negotiated by the school, as appropriate, with a child’s future school. EAL The school may admit children for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL) if it deems them able, with appropriate support, to benefit in due course from the mainstream curriculum. Until such a time, individual tuition in English is provided by a specialist teacher in place of mainstream lessons as appropriate. It is a condition of admission that the cost of such tuition and of any necessary assessment charges should be borne by the parents. Such charges will be communicated to parents with the offer of a place. Timetabling of Individual Needs Lessons The individual needs of each child are taken into account when timetabling lessons. Lessons take place before school, during part of lunchtime or in specified timetable slots which cause the least disruption to mainstream teaching. Assessment It is the policy of the School that a child requiring individual provision is assessed by one of our specialist assessors, the cost of which, as advised by the Head of Individual Needs, is borne by parents (although the school may be willing to provide financial support, if necessary). Many Senior Schools require an educational psychologist’s assessment prior to entry to confirm examination concessions. Where the School proposes a referral for assessment by an Educational Psychologist for this or other reasons, the cost of a referral is borne by the parents. The Head of Individual Needs makes arrangements for all forms of internal or external assessment of children. In the best interests of the children, parents are expected to share with the school any information arising from external assessments which they have themselves arranged. Where an Individual Needs assessment by the School’s staff or by an outside agency is deemed necessary prior to the offer of a place, parents of potential new entrants should expect to bear the cost of such assessment. Statutory Assessment As set out in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001, 7.9: ‘In some cases, schools…. will conclude, after they have taken action to meet the learning difficulties of a child, that the child’s needs remain so substantial that they cannot be met effectively within the resources normally available to the school.’ In such a case, the school has ‘a statutory right to ask the LEA to conduct a statutory assessment ….. of a child’s educational needs’ (Education Act 1996, 329A) which may result in a Statement of Special Educational Needs, as documented in the Code of Practice. In such circumstances, the school undertakes to work in accordance with the Code of Practice and in co-operation with parents, the LEA and other agencies as appropriate, to reach an outcome that is in a child’s best interests. With regard to the admission to the school of a statemented child, the school operates in accordance with its Disability Policy. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
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
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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