Dr. L. Twist
WHAT IS “REFOCUS”?
For Key Stage 3 pupils and those in the early part of Year 10, Horizons Academy offers an early intervention programme,”Refocus”. Refocus is an early intervention strategy to prevent permanent exclusion and support pupils who are struggling in school through breaking the cycle of poor choices and relationship breakdowns. It is an agreement between mainstream schools and the New Horizons Federation via Horizons Academy. When a mainstream school has exhausted their current strategies to help a young person change their behaviour or when they feel that the pupil would benefit from time out of their environment to break the cycle of entrenched behaviours and / or escalation or where permanent exclusion is becoming an increasing risk, the school may make a referral to the Refocus Programme.
Referrals are discussed in the fortnightly Referrals Meeting and decisions reached as to whether in-school or off site support is the most appropriate way forward. All places on Refocus are offered on a needs basis rather than allocated according to the number of places taken up by any one school. The Referrals Meeting takes into account the information provided on the referral form and the requests of the school alongside any supporting evidence. Decisions are made taking into account the needs of the child, the current peer group and the interventions already being used by the school. Schools are encouraged to attend the meeting to provide further information which may clarify the best decision.
WHICH SCHOOL DOES THE PUPIL BELONG TO?
All placements are time limited with a timeframe of 12 weeks. No pupil in Key Stages 1 to 3 may remain for an extended period and this includes those who are permanently excluded for whom a mainstream school must be sought at the first Fair Access Panel (FAP) following permanent exclusion for any pupil without a school place / exit route. It is expected that all pupils come to Horizons with a clear exit route or one is secured at the early part of their programme. No pupil should be on single roll to Horizons on a long term basis as all pupils have a legal right to a school place as outlined in the Schools Admissions Code. Horizons Refocus Programme offers interventions programmes for Key Stage 1-3 pupils and NOT a school place. Local Fair Access Protocols are followed in relation to the placement of pupils who are permanently excluded.
When a young person accesses Refocus, the focus is on them returning to their home school. Therefore, they are required to wear the uniform of their home school. This is to ensure that pupils continue to feel part of their school and not abandoned or cast out. We include the student’s parents/carers and home school throughout the process, with the parents and a staff member from the school, required to be present at the student’s admission meeting at Horizons, and at all the subsequent meetings.
Following the Referrals Meeting, schools are informed of outcomes and contact is subsequently made to organize next steps.
All pupils offered a place on Refocus attend a pre-admission meeting attended by their home school, parents / carers and the pupil. Where attendance is an issue, the home school EWO must also attend to agree parameters of engagement and other services may be invited where this is felt supportive of the placement. At this meeting dates for induction and baseline assessment are organized where the pupil attends appointments at Pathways arranged around attendance in their home school. At this point the pupil is not yet on the PRU roll. The only exception to this is in the case of permanently excluded pupils who must attend from Day 6. It is still an expectation that the excluding school attends the pre-admission meeting to hand over information and contribute to the identification of need in order to give the pupil the best preparation for the programme to be successful. Permanently excluded pupils must remain on the home school roll until after the date of appeal has passed (15 days).
PARTNERSHIP WORKING WITH SCHOOLS AND MEETINGS:
The first meeting is the Planning Meeting which takes place after 2 weeks. This meeting is to set IEP targets, ascertain what the barriers are to success in mainstream currently and to undertake and agree risk assessments, Positive Handling Plans (PHPs) and intervention strategies/programmes. A review meeting follows at the mid-point, week 6-7, and reintegration meeting in the home or reintegrating school at week 12/13. In addition to these meetings, progress is reported to home schools ion terms of learning and behaviour. Success measured against IEP targets, attendance, behavioural improvements and ability to interact appropriately with staff and peers. Reporting is on academic progress in core subject areas alongside observational feedback on engagement in learning, motivation and interaction with staff and peers.
PREPARING FOR REINTEGRATION
From the outset of the programme pupils are prepared for reintegration back to mainstream school. Weekly sessions on the skills needed to maintain a school place are delivered by the Outreach Team alongside the daily reflective sessions which underpin the core message of self-evaluation and “making good” where things have not gone well. Consequential thinking and restorative practices are the foundations on which pupils learning and development on the programme are based.
EXPECTATIONS OF PUPILS ATTENDING THE REFOCUS PROGRAMME:
There is an expectation that students arrive to Horizons on time, and attend all lessons. Students can arrive to school for Breakfast Club at 8.30am, but must be in school by 8.55 am.
Students follow a rotational curriculum. This means our subjects have schemes of work run for a 14 week period. The curriculum focuses on the skills required for a learner to access and make maximum progress on return to mainstream education, whilst allowing the students the opportunity to work on other skills, such as social interaction, that would not be possible if the curriculum were aimed at individual students.
To prepare them for their return to their home school, at the 6 week review meeting, the student will meet a member from the NHF Outreach team. Each student will receive support from the team beginning in week 8, whilst still at Horizons, and continuing through to their sixth week back in mainstream with some reintegration support extending to week 12. Specific, individualized work is undertaken during this time alongside training and support for school staff in order that a handover can take place for the pupil with responsibility being returned to their home school for the continuation of the pathway the student is following. However, schools may contact the Outreach Team for continued support and advice and guidance following the finalizing of the reintegration programme as our ultimate aim is to ensure that all students are successful on their return to school.