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Courtlands School

Courtlands Special School Academy caters for primary aged children who have Moderate Learning Difficulties, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH), and other complex needs. Within this there is a wide range of needs, such as children with mild medical issues, developmental disorders such as ADHD and Dyspraxia, Autism and speech and language difficulties.

Contacts details

Address:Courtlands Special School
Widey Lane
Telephone number: 01752 776848
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Our children are academically below what you might normally expect for a child of their age, usually by two to three years. All of the children have an Education, Health and Care Plan, and are given a place here by the Local Authority.

Courtlands is an amazing place to come to with a real feel of positivity, acceptance and camaraderie. You see targeted therapies many other schools do not offer and a curriculum that is designed to meet the additional needs of our pupils. You see learning organised to meet the developmental needs of the children and we have the confidence to buck the trend, stand out, and to aim for the outstanding.

To attend Courtlands, your child must have an Education, Health and Care Plan and meet the special needs described above. Your mainstream school or nursery SENDCO can apply to your local authority for a place and a panel of heads and other professionals decide whether this school is appropriate. We have a maximum of 75 children here at any one time ranging in age from 4 to 11 years old. We take pupils from Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall and we welcome prospective visits from interested parents, SENCOs or Local Authority Officers.

We have small classes of no more than ten children with lots of adult support so that our children can make excellent progress. We look at the whole child and help them to improve both their academic achievement and their personal wellbeing. This means that we help them to socialise, eat and play independently, become more active and have better coordination. We help them to learn to swim, ride a bike and look after themselves in every way. Our children make excellent progress and really enjoy coming here as can be seen through their smiles and obvious love for learning.

The levels of progress made by our pupils is significantly above national expectations for like pupils, our attendance is in the top 1% of special schools nationally and our exclusion levels in the lowest 1% nationally. We are a truly inclusive school who believe that the children have a right to have their needs met and not feel excluded from anything.


How does Courtlands know if children need extra help?

Courtlands looks after primary aged children with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH), and other complex needs.
Every child attending Courtlands has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and an Individual Education Plan (IEP). We know if pupils need additional help if:

  • A child asks for help.
  • Concerns are raised by parents/ carers.
  • Concerns are raised by teachers.
  • Concerns are raised by outside agencies.
  • There is lack of progress in any academic or wellbeing area of the curriculum.
  • There is a change to the pupil's behaviour and/or communication.

What should I do if I think my child may have additional special educational needs?

All the children who attend Courtlands have special educational needs and have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP.) If a parent thinks that their child has an additional need or their current needs need reviewing then they can contact the class teacher in the first instance. Following this, the SENCo or Assistant SENCo will become involved if necessary. We will work as a team to find a solution to address any additional needs that have been identified. This may involve seeking guidance from outside agencies. Any new information received from doctors or other agencies will be added to the individual child's provision.

How will I know how Courtlands supports my child and how well they are doing?

Three times a year an Individual Education Plan (IEP) report is sent to the parent/carer of every child in the school.  It will be personalised to describe the individual pupil's needs and will detail targets that are being worked on. Three times a year, we offer parents and carers the opportunity to meet with class teachers and review learning and progress. In addition to this, each child has an annual review where progress over the past year is evaluated and additional targets are set where needed. On a daily basis, you will be able to see support provided and progress made through our home/school apps; Seesaw and Tapestry. Additionally, parents and carers are able to request additional appointments at any time.

How will the curriculum be matched to my child's needs?

Our curriculum is specifically designed for children with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SMEH), and other complex needs. Teachers plan from children's assessed levels ensuring work closely matches children's ability, learning needs and emotional wellbeing. Pupil progress meetings are held three times a year between the deputy head and the class teacher. These provide an opportunity to rigorously analyse the progress of the children and are a useful way of highlighting any potential problems in order for further support to be planned. Please see our curriculum policy for more details.

How will you help me to support my child's learning?

The class teacher can suggest additional ways of supporting your child's learning and can do this via a message on Seesaw/Tapestry, at parents' evenings or by arranging a meeting with you. The Headteacher and/or SENCO may meet with you to discuss how to support your child. The Pastoral Manager may meet with you discuss strategies to use, particularly if your child is struggling at home. Outside agencies may suggest advice or programmes of study that can be used at home. Parent/carer workshops and coffee mornings take place weekly, sometimes with invited guests, where advice and ideas can be exchanged. These are arranged by the Pastoral Manager.

What support will there be for my child's overall wellbeing?

The school offers a wide variety of support for pupils who are struggling with their social, emotional and mental health needs. Our curriculum is based on emotional wellbeing and includes lessons that help the children to understand and support their social, emotional and mental health needs. In addition to this, we also offer targeted support through our play therapist and occupational therapist.

What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?

At times it may be necessary to consult with outside agencies to receive their more specialised expertise.

The agencies used by the school include:

  • Educational Psychologist
  • CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service)
  • EWO (Educational Welfare officers)
  • Hearing and visually impaired specialist support teachers
  • Speech & Language Service
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Child Development Centre (paediatricians, psychologists, therapists and other medical staff)
  • School Nurse
  • Music, Dance and Art Therapists
  • Social Workers

What specialised training do staff have?

The staff at Courtlands have received training in a wide range of areas including:

  • How to support pupils with autistic spectrum conditions.
  • How to support pupils with mental health difficulties.
  • How to support children with sensory processing difficulties.
  • How to support pupils with anxiety.
  • How to support pupils with specific learning needs.
  • How to keep children safe in education.
  • Curriculum specific training.
  • STORM training for pupils who are at risk of self-harm or suicide.
  • PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy)
  • Pivotal MAPA for the prevention of physical aggression.
  • How to support pupils with speech and language difficulties.
  • How to support medical needs e.g. administering medication (including emergency medication such as midazolam or adrenalin) and first aid.

At Courtlands we are committed to continued professional learning and training is ongoing and relevant to the needs of our current cohort.

How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom including school trips?

Outdoor activities and school trips are available to all and are designed specifically to be accessible to the whole class.  In exceptional circumstances, the only reason a child would not be allowed to go on a trip is if they are at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.

How accessible is the school environment?

Our building is fully accessible for wheelchair users downstairs and has disabled toilet facilities. We are happy to discuss individual access requirements.

How will the school prepare and support my child when joining Courtlands or transferring to a new school?

Courtlands School understands what a worrying time moving schools can be therefore many strategies are in place to enable the pupil's transition to be as smooth as possible.

Joining Courtlands

  • Parents and carers are invited to tour the school.
  • Pupils are invited to visit the school as often as necessary.
  • Courtlands staff sometimes visit your child in their educational setting before their move to Courtlands, particularly with children in nursery settings.
  • Children receive a transition booklet to help them prepare.
  • Staff liaise closely with the previous educational setting to ensure a detailed handover of information.

Leaving Courtlands

  • Children are prepared for an upcoming transition by class staff.
  • Staff meet with new schools to hand over information.
  • Members of staff from the new school meet with the pupils at Courtlands.
  • Children attend transition sessions at their new schools.
  • Parents are invited to attend information meetings at the new school.

How are the school's resources allocated and matched to children's special educational needs?

Each child is allocated funding by their local authority which we then allocate to each child through their individual provision.  The money is used to provide additional support or resources dependant on individual needs. Further support or resources may be allocated to your child following assessments by school staff or outside agencies. For information on how the pupil premium is spent, see the pupil premium report.

How is the decision made about how much support my child will receive?

The Senior Leadership Team will agree the level of support needed based on the funding given by the local authority. This may take the form of additional individual or small group support in class or in other focus groups tailored to the pupils needs. All support is detailed in Education, Health and Care Plans, Individual Education Plans and on individual provision maps. During their school life, if further concerns are identified due to the pupil's lack of progress or wellbeing then other interventions will be arranged and we may seek to change the funding band we receive.

How will I be involved in discussions about and planning for my child's education?

All parents are welcomed and actively encouraged to contribute to their child's education.  A child will always make better progress if we all work together to support them.

This may be through:

  • discussions with the class teacher about IEP targets
  • parents' evenings
  • discussions with the headteacher, SENCo or other professionals
  • the annual review of the EHCP

We actively encourage parents to use and contribute to their child's profile on Seesaw/Tapestry.

Who can I contact for further information?

If you wish to discuss your child's educational needs please contact one of the following:

  • The class teacher
  • The Pastoral Manager
  • The SENCo
  • The Headteacher

Appointments can be made with the school office by phoning 01752 776848.


IEP - Individual Education Plan

MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulties

SENCo - Special Educational Needs Coordinator

EHCP - Education, Health Care Plans

If you have any further questions, please refer to the other parts of the website, or telephone the school office on 01752 776848

Age range
  • Early years - 0 to 5 years
  • Primary - 5 to 11 years
  • Needs level
  • Medium
  • High
  • Provision type
  • Specialist

  • Based: Plymouth
    Childcare Type:
    • School
    Age ranges:
    • Junior school - 3 to 6 years
    • Primary school - 5 to 11 years
    • Special needs school - 3 to 19 years
    Registered places: 70
    Wheelchair access information: Yes
    Dietary needs information: Yes
    Special needs information: Yes

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