Highgate Hill House School reopened its doors in 2017 as a special educational needs (SEN) establishment on the borders of Devon and Cornwall. A definition of special educational needs can be seen in the short video attachment.

The concept of the school was born when founder Sir Peter Birkett heard that a special needs school in the local area for 11 to 16-year olds was due to close. Sir Peter drew on his background in education and business, joining in partnership with Dr Julie Smith to conceive of a rebranded special needs school.

Since Highgate Hill House School opened, it has grown to maximum pupil capacity with a turnover of £2.2 million, been graded ‘Good’ by OFSTED across all areas, been a finalist for three national awards, achieved Investors in People (IIP) status, and in March 2020 secured an excellent Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) inspection. In June 2020 the school was named in the top 20 best employers in the country.

School Mission and Aims

The mission of Highgate Hill House School is to provide learning opportunities that are exciting, innovative and personalised to meet the needs of each individual pupil, creating an inclusive learning environment that ensures students are happy and have the best possible chance of succeeding in life.

The school’s vision is to become the first-choice provider of special needs education, and the highest performing facility by all metrics for students with autism and a range of mental, emotional and social difficulties aged between 5 and 16 years.

In the upcoming 2020/2021 school year, the key strategic aims of the school include ensuring pupil’s personal development and achievements are excellent, investing in facilities and equipment, maintaining financial health and good value for money, and developing partnerships and alliances that are mutually beneficial.

The school also aims to develop and maintain a culture of positivity, raise the school profile, and innovate to drive performance using a balanced and relevant curriculum.

In the embedded infographic, you can see some of the national awards that Highgate Hill House School has been shortlisted for.

Personal Assessments

Every student who comes to Highgate Hill House School has differing abilities and individual educational needs. In light of this, each pupil is given a personalised assessment by their teachers which considers their educational, emotional, social, sensory, speech and language needs.

This assessment is then used to establish a baseline from which each pupil can be continually assessed to accurately identify their achievements and areas where more assistance may be required. Assessments are objective led, which means skills are described in sentences rather than just given a score or ranking, ensuring each pupil’s personal progress can be measured and celebrated.

These assessments help teachers to build a full profile of each student that facilitates the implementation of the most appropriate support programmes throughout their time at the school. Progress is measured not only in terms of academic performance but also via other key indicators.

Curriculum and Courses

Highgate Hill House School works on the premise that learning should be fun, operating a broad and inclusive curriculum that ties in with the new EHC plan but can be adapted to address the personal needs of each student.

The UK National Curriculum is in place, but is enriched with multiple adventurous activities, outdoor learning, and therapeutic intervention to meet the needs of all pupils.

The school offers GCSE courses and assesses the ongoing work of GCSE students using the Pearson schemes of work. Some students at the school also undertake AQA and BTEC courses, with the boards providing appropriate specification documents for individual assessments.

You can learn more about Highgate Hill House School founder Sir Peter Birkett in the PDF attachment to this post.