Willow Dene and Demelza House have a well-established relationship. The two organisations meet regularly to discuss Willow Dene children who use Demelza House. Demelza House has supported Willow Dene staff via training, advice and the opportunity to spend time with various members of the Demelza team. Willow Dene supports Demelza by taking part in events and fundraising efforts, offering advice and support, and hosting visits for members of the care team. The Demelza Care Team often attend annual reviews in school. Children are able to attend school directly from Demelza during planned stays. Transport between school and Demelza is either by parents, or prior agreement with Greenwich Travel Assistance.
The Greenwich Sensory Service
The Royal Greenwich Sensory Service provides support to deaf and visually impaired young people at Willow Dene School. A qualified teacher of the vision impaired visits regularly, and a qualified teacher of the deaf is usually on site each week. The support for each child will be agreed in consultation and varies according to their sensory needs.
The Academy for Innovation and UWL
As part of the Compass Partnership, Willow Dene pioneered strategically led research through the MA in Leadership and Innovation with the Academy for Innovation and University of West London. The MA was inquiry based and project led, enabling teachers to design research projects to drive improvement and innovation in learning. This school-based MA enabled us to develop leadership capacity and skills in leading sustainable change. In autumn 2016 Willow Dene was designated a UWL Innovation hub.
Research completed: Effective assessment changes practice, which formally researches the school’s own Learning Journeys assessment system by examining the questions: Is Learning Journeys an effective assessment system? Has Learning Journeys changed and improved practice? Is Learning Journeys transferable? The outcome of our research into assessment has informed our ongoing dialogue with the DFE’s ‘Assessment without Levels Commission’ and has allowed us to share Learning Journeys with other schools across the country.
Research completed: This research originally aimed to improve the impact of collaborative working on our children with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. The research explored whether we could make collaborative working more effective and improve staff confidence, skill and knowledge in meeting the needs of children with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. The school has designed a bespoke educational framework for collaborative working, identifying priorities and ensuring action. The research into the effectiveness of this explores the potential of the school to redefine the traditional model of working with children with progressive disorders. The development of the team and of individual leadership skills was integral to the innovation. The outcome of this research is a published package of our ‘Personal Provision Plan’ framework which is now used more widely within the school with our highly complex children and has had significant positive impact.
Research completed: This research investigated the impact of a new approach to assessing sitting skills. This research supports our Move work but enabled us to measure progress in sitting skills in smaller steps and allowed us to look at the impact of specialist equipment and movement practice on skills acquisition
Research completed: Originally designed to assess and the impact of an in-house model of CPD on the schools ability to meet the needs of children with cerebral visual impairment, this research was broadened in the second year. The new focus enabled us to look more closely at the impact of autonomy in CPD on the confidence and skill set of our staff team.
Our Music Therapy team worked with Toucan as part of a one year research project to investigate the impact of early intervention on children with complex needs. The outcomes of this research were published in the autumn 2018 edition of SLD Experience Magazine
Our Music Therapy team is currently undertaking research into the impact that Music Therapy delivered in a special school setting has on children who have had a previous failed school placement
Our Physiotherapy and gym teams are now in the third year of research which investigates the impact of cardiovascular exercise on children who are not independently mobile.
Look out for our exciting ‘Heads First’ initiative which is being launched this year by our Physiotherapists. This will use exciting new software to analyse children’s posture and investigate whether we can improve outcomes through a planned specialist approach.
Willow Dene regularly hosts placements for King’s College Nursing students. These placements allow the students to form relationships with children and families, and learn more about vital aspects of the children’s lives, such as communication, postural care and motivation. This gives a different perspective to their clinical training. Willow Dene provides training sessions for King’s College final year children’s nurses.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Queen Elizabeth is our local hospital and so we are pleased to have been able to offer a visit and advice to the team running the hospital school. We run a series of bespoke training sessions to help the team at the hospital get to know our children and their needs better.
Oxleas Health Trust
Oxleas are commissioned to provide services to the school which include physiotherapy and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and nursing services. We have a high standard of collaborative working at Willow Dene and this is achieved by encouraging input from our Oxleas team at all levels in the day to day running of the school. This has allowed us to offer innovative opportunities such as presentation mornings for professionals which explain our model of working and bespoke training days for staff. Our model of practice has impacted on the learning environment at the school with several ground-breaking health and education partnership projects, such as our Medi Motion bikes and our interactive floor tracking impacting positively on achievement. The development of the service at Willow Dene was discussed at the National Music Therapy Conference in 2018
We work closely with Goldsmiths University to provide guest lectures and workshops to their PGCE students. These opportunities provide students with an understanding of SEND and the provisions that are in place to support our children. These are followed up with an opportunity for students to do a one-day placement at Willow Dene, to see this theory in practice and to consolidate their understanding. We have always had fantastic feedback from the staff and students at Goldsmiths. In addition, we work closely with Goldsmiths on the Schools Direct PGCE Programme and many of our teachers at Willow Dene begin their career via this route into teaching.