At St John’s, we are very proud indeed of our students’ successes in our sixth form. This is where their earlier intensive educational input comes to fruition.
During their time in the secondary department, we prepare students very well for this next educational stage and, as a result, we have never had a student drop out or fail a course.
All students in years 12,13 and 14 follow a specially designed curriculum, the continuing focus of which is the development of language and literacy. Functional skills in English, Maths and ICT provide the core and a special programme, Moving On, integrates PSHE, RE and skills for adult life. In addition, students opt to study a link course, either ‘A’ levels or a vocational course. Students may choose to do this at one of two local colleges, York and Askham Bryan. Both of these colleges are within twenty minutes drive of the school and offer a wide range of courses at different levels of entry which include Pre Foundation, Foundation Learning Tier, level 2 and level 3 courses. Sixth form courses typically comprise two or three days at school and the remaining time at college.
To support their college courses, students have additional specialist tuition at school from St John’s staff who are all qualified teachers of the deaf. Private study sessions are also supervised and take place in the Sixth Form Study Centre. Support to develop independent study skills and personal organisation is built into the Moving On programme so that, by the time they leave St John’s Sixth form, young people are well-equipped to go onto employment, further or higher education.
All sixth form students continue with individual and group speech and language therapy sessions, to support both subject specific language knowledge and also the development of social language skills. The school nurse and audiologist provide on-going health and audiological support, and ensure that students become familiar with the adult services available and how to access them.
Placements in St John’s Sixth Form are residential. This enables students to access a 24 hour curriculum that equips them for adult life. In the residential setting, students have a wide deaf peer group and follow a full life-skills programme, which is accessible for young people with a range of additional needs such as visual or physical impairments. On a practical level, students are taught budgeting, shopping and self-care skills such as washing and ironing. As a group, the students plan and budget for their own leisure time and, by the end of their time with us, it is expected that students will have well developed independence skills, including independent travel. Post 16 funding includes daily travel by minibus into York College and students undergo a travel training course so they can travel back to St John’s independently. When students are learning to drive, St John’s staff support the driving theory by preparing students for the various elements of the assessment.
Students continue to have careers advice and support in school, provided by an independent careers officer, and also have support with future college and job applications. Presentations and discussions with outside speakers help prepare students to become active citizens, aware of their responsibilities and sources of help available to them. Students learn about issues that are important to them such as positive personal relationships and managing their own health and social needs.
At college, all lecturers have individual deaf awareness training provided by St John’s staff. As the links between the colleges have been established for over ten years, a high level of expertise and cooperation has built up between college and St John’s staff. Both colleges attract deaf students from all over Yorkshire and the Humber and St John’s staff are commissioned to provide specialist support to hearing impaired students that are not part of our Sixth Form. St John’s has a designated area at York College, including areas for individual study and tutor rooms, used for pre- and post-tutoring. The college is fully accessible and acoustically treated. Studying at York and Askham Bryan Colleges enables St John’s students to make friends with hearing young people and provides many opportunities to develop independence in the hearing world.
St John’s Sixth Form provides all students with full time one-to-one support from our own learning mentors who are all trained as note-takers to support the communication needs of deaf people. The majority of learning mentors are graduates or teachers and have specialist expertise in specific skills such as ICT and Media. This enables us to assign a learning mentor with relevant experience of their chosen course to each student.
Learning mentors work one-to-one with students, providing notetaker support in all taught sessions and also in practical sessions when background noise can make instructions and discussions difficult to hear. They also fulfil an important pastoral role to support students, for example, in organising their social and study time, structuring assignments, preparing students to cope with buying their own meals and moving around the college.
Learning mentors support with course assessments, for example acting as oral language moderators, readers or scribes in tests and are trained to undertake these roles in accordance with the requirements of exam boards.
The Sixth Form Co-ordinator works between St John’s, Askham Bryan and York College and is a specialist teacher for hearing impaired pupils. He has responsibility for arranging students’ support and pre and post tutoring for their courses. He also liaises daily with the residential staff and therapists.
Support for students’ emotional well being
St John’s school provides support for hearing impaired pupils and students who are experiencing a range of emotional, behavioural and developmental problems such as:
- Eating disorders
- Behavioural problems
- Significant communication or coping difficulties at school or home.
To achieve this, we work with the National Deaf Child and Adolescecent Mental Health Service (NDCAMHS), which provides a specialist mental health service for deaf and hearing impaired children.
The NDCAMHS service has four regional centres. The closest centre to St John’s, Lime trees, is in York. As well as providing outreach services, Lime trees has an inpatient facility and school staff have worked with specialists there to provide education if St John’s pupils have been admitted on a short or longer term basis.
The NDCAMHS service has a permanent base in St John’s and a member of St John’s staff coordinates visits and multi-professional meetings. The range of specialist staff from the NDCAMHS team who visit the school very frequently includes:
- Clinical Psychologists
- Community Mental Health Nurses
- Occupational Therapists and
- Deaf Family Support Workers
The NDCAMHS base at St John’s includes video conferencing facilities to allow liaison with CAMHS professionals and families around the country.
This facility has enabled us to support students who have been inpatients at the national specialist Deaf inpatient centre at Corner House, Wandsworth. School staff have provided students with their usual curriculum materials and contributed to CPA reviews.
Support for young people from the NDCAMHS team in school includes:
- Holistic assessment of a child’s emotional and developmental needs
- Health care and medication reviews
- Therapeutic support for individuals, families and groups
- Support and advice for the family
- Consultation, advice, and training for teachers and care staff to support pupils and students and implement individual care plans.