We have an employment pathways leader on site 1 day a week, so all young people get half a day of careers support every week.
All students complete a portfolio and gain certficates in a mixture of life areas (such as managing money, household organistion and travel training) and personal interests. Sharon works with ASDAN moderators to ensure that the young people leave with valuable and recognised certificates. Within these bespoke programs she works with local business to enable us to visit workshops, take courses and experience 'supported' work experience days with our staff there. Each student has a profile on U-Explore and access to their testing around job suitability and viability.
We access employability days at various university and colleges due to our qualified leader's connections and our link with the wider Big Bear Bespoke Education group.
We deliver wider qualifications via diploma training that is a combination of online, face to face and on location. The subject choices are wide but animal care, beauty therapy and photography are particularly popular.
Guest speakers have not been able to attend recently due to Covid 19, but with the news of a gradual easing we are already planning for June visitors!
Careers advice is also provided by an externally funded provider (U-Explore website.u-explore.com) and we are actively working towards achieving all of the Gatsby benchmarks as detailed in the DFE publication that you can download below (although these never became active legislation, we feel they are a good measure of qualitative control of the services we provide)
When considering whether GCSEs is the right pathway for our year 9s and 10s we have always advocated a realistic approach. Aspects informing our decision are as follows:
1. Attendance & participation - if your young person doesn't attend at the required 96% or when they are in they have not participated at a level that the GCSE courses demand, then we will make the judgement that their mental health is not in a place to consider a series of exam subjects. We will focus on English, maths and improving attendance. An additional aspect to this post Covid is that students need to produce enough class work that they can still be assessed through work submission should exams be cancelled. The ability to do some work at home also informs this decision, and this is often assessed by an ongoing course in an area of interest during the end of year 9 and the start of year 10.
2. What do they want to do in the future? GCSEs are a 'ticket' to the next stage, and we advocate a sensible approach of just taking the entry requirements for your next step - usually that is 3-4 GCSE for local colleges. If the course they want to attend doesn't have a GCSE entry requirement then again we will focus on maths and English.
3. Exploring alternatives. Exams are anxiety inducing for most students and we advocate exploring gentler experiences such as functional skills within maths and English, as well as other alternative certifications which are either equivalent but more coursework based ( such as OCR Nationals or certifications / diplomas which are insurable and Ofqual regulated) or are CPD graded at levels 1-3 (whilst these will not always be Ofqual regulated and GCSE alternatives they are recognised by colleges and employers as significant study)
4. At the start of year 10 we teach a broad curriculum that gives a taster of several GCSE options and has a focus on maths and English. This then reduces again in February to a pinpointed curriculum that meets the needs of the whole Year 10 group - therefore the dynamic and ability of the group as a whole will affect our offer, as well as the availability of staff and timetabling.
5. Most importantly, is our professional assessment of how well your young person is, and what risks a heavy exam based experience will put them under.
If parents feel their child should be taking 6-10 GCSEs then this is an indicator that we are no longer a suitable placement, as this is not the experience we offer and a young person with this level of resilience is at the end of their journey with us as we are a mental health / anxiety setting and this level of examination pressure doesn't indicate that a young person has these needs. In this case we will inform the LEA that we can no longer meet need and a transition to a larger setting with a bigger exams offer will need to be facilitated.
The majority of our year 10 students carry out a blended approach, with some academic and some vocational studies, with some also carrying out a non-academic route. Most reach their target of being 'back where they should be' in terms of study level prior to mental health crisis when they enter college, with leavers reporting that they are now getting on well or are even A grade students in their college courses. Due to having missed a lot of school, and still being mentally vulnerable, we have a high uptake of Functional skills maths and English rather than GCSE.
Fun at a year 10/11 and Leavers event!
Recent transitions have included:
2018 - 1 student to Reigate college, 1 to Woking college, 1 to Croydon College and 1 to Farnborough
2019 - 1 student to The Brit School, 1 student to Guildford College
We have a great record of transitions to local colleges and will happily visit with the young person and their family. Key workers are happy to attend interviews or meet with the SEND departments.
The majority of students gain college entry for their first choice course at their local college. Some students still need support whilst at their college and we can liaise with Big Bear Bespoke Education to provide this via their R-OUT-Es program. The R-OUT-Es program also offers up to 15 hours per week tuition centre / at home support to young people who register with online colleges due to on-going acute anxiety and mental health needs preventing them attending a physical offer or due to a need for more bespoke, specialist SEND support than the local colleges can offer. For more information we have provided their prospectus material below, but please do visit bigbearbespokeeducation.org for more information.
This is the website for Arun Court School. If you are looking for Big Bear Bespoke Education consultancy please go to
SOURCES OF HELP
These services are not associated with us. We are not responsible for the quality of service they provide, we are recommending them based on the positive experiences of some young people known to us. By inclusion in this list nor are we suggesting that we are in any way affiliated with these servcies.
ANXIETY UK - Support, online counselling, magazine, advice
Text line: 07537416905
Info line: 03444775774
A magazine packed full of useful articles around not just ASD, but the mental health aspects associated with it - fascinating reading and lots of signalling to specialist support.
Website provides support for young people, professionals and parents. Young people who feel they are having a mental health crisis can get instant emergency support by texting YM to 85258
OCD UK - advice, online counselling, support and magazine. Dedicated youth services.
PAPYRUS - suicide prevention young people's hotline 0800 068 41 41
An eating disorder support service - smaller than some of the bigger associations, but specifically aimed at young people.