News & Events

Supporting the Welfare and Well-being of the Breckenbrough Community

The welfare of the Breckenbrough community is always at the forefront of what we do, though the challenges faced since March has placed an added significance and focus on the well-being of all of us.

Throughout this period, all our students and their families have been supported by a core team; those key members of staff who have the in-depth knowledge, expertise and relationship to be instrumental in meeting need. The high standards of home contact, including video calls, has been maintained to ensure consistency and stability during uncertain times. Our weekly on-line assemblies also remain an important aspect of each week when we can come together, celebrate and reflect as a community.

We have introduced well-being sessions with our Sixth Formers on Wednesday afternoons, which have been well attended by the student body. We have been astounded by how open the students have been in sharing their challenges and difficulties. We know from experience how challenging it can be for young males to open up about their issues and how they are feeling and the students themselves have shared how beneficial these sessions have been.

For the past few years, the school has worked in consultancy with a nutritionist, who has been pivotal in improving the dietary intake of our cohort. With awareness of the link between diet and well-being, we have extended our offer to include nutritional support and guidance for staff as well as students during these difficult times.

As a staff team, fortnightly yoga sessions have been introduced with all welcome to attend either in the hall or via an online stream. This has proven to be deliver a therapeutic conclusion to what has often been a stressful week.

We are currently in the process of looking to set up a ‘thank you’ style box where staff can pass on their gratitude or praise for a colleague. In our experience, these small gestures can have a big impact on someone’s self-esteem and overall well-being.

We have signposted the availability of Headspace as an online resource and both staff and students have commented positively on its effectiveness.

Throughout this situation, we have been genuinely humbled by our student’s ability to adapt to what is now dubbed ‘the new normal’ and look forward to sharing further positive developments as the year progresses. The support from one colleague to another has demonstrated yet again what a special place Breckenbrough School is.

CEOP Online safety guidance

CEOP E-Safety

For children and young people on the autistic spectrum, the internet can provide real opportunities for social interaction and learning as it removes some of the challenges of face to face communication.

Despite this, they can be especially vulnerable to risks online.

Many of our students have access to electronic devices, play online games and have social media accounts to communicate with others. This has a big impact on developing identities, friendships, relationships, passions and aspirations.

Breckenbrough aims to empower and protect our students by providing them with the knowledge to stay safe online. In order to achieve this, it is important that staff, parents and carers have a good awareness of the risks and dangers too.

Preparing your child to use the Internet

There is a great deal of guidance available on how to support your child to use the internet safely.

Essential Guidance Includes:

  • Establish ground rules with your child about how they can use the Internet, when and for how long.
  • Talk to your child about the kind of things it is ok to look at. A basic rule could be if I won’t let you watch it on television, it’s not ok to search for it online.
  • Ensure your child knows to come to you or another trusted adult if they see something that upsets them.
  • Talk to your child about the internet and ensure they don’t share personal information with others online.
  • Encourage your child to use a nickname and avatar online and to speak to you or a trusted adult if personal information is requested.
  • Agree that if your child receives an email with an attachment that they will talk to you before they open it.
  • Talk to your child about rules for being polite and kind to others.

Parental control

One way of setting appropriate boundaries online for your child is by setting controls on devices that connect to the internet. InternetMatters.org offers a step by step guide to make it simple and straight forward for parents and carers to set controls on smartphones, broadband, gaming and social media.

Create a family contract

Decide as a family how your child can use the internet, when and for how long and write it down and/or draw pictures. Clearly displaying rules and boundaries will make it easier for your child to keep themselves safe. Many children on the autistic spectrum struggle to interpret their own emotions and recognise risky situations. It’s important that you set clear boundaries for them online and communicate these in a way they will understand, clearly setting out what’s ok and what’s not ok.

Get involved

More young people are using the internet to socialise and grow and it shouldn’t change the way you guide and support them. Spend time with your child, show an interest in their online lives, talk about what they’re doing online and reassure them they can approach you if they need support. A number of our students use social media, I recommend to familiarise yourself with social media applications so you can show support.

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There are some useful websites for children and young people to access regarding internet safety:

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And useful websites for parents are:

http://www.whsschool.org.uk/media/1216/nspcc.png

If you’re worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know safely and securely by clicking the link:

Text Box:

Mencap have produced a handy document, Learning disabilities, Autism and Internet Safety: A Guide for Parents’ which is free to download and contains lots of helpful tips on how you can keep your child safe online.

Online safety guidance

Attendance & Engagement

Attendance

Attendance for 2019/20 during Autumn term: 87.8%

Adjusted attendance figures: 90.6%

Phased Transition and Integrated Starts

When a student comes on roll at Breckenbrough, the transition into the school must be sensitively managed with a coordinated approach involving the family and other professionals.

The vast majority of our cohort have experienced a lengthy period out of education prior to arriving here, sometimes as long as two or three years. Therefore, in returning to education, there are both high levels of anxiety to support and the need to build up stamina in getting through the school day.

With an integrated start, it is our goal for a student to be accessing a full timetable as soon as possible, with attending outdoor education sessions usually the final part in completing the transition to full-time attendance.

Engagement

Whole School Engagement

The engagement of every student on a lesson-by-lesson basis is tracked and recorded across the curriculum. This system supports us in praising positive engagement, including improvements in engagement, whilst also identifying any engagement issues or patterns and introducing appropriate interventions.

Things to do at home for you and your family

Whilst we’re all staying at home, working and studying. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for you try:

Scouts – the Great Indoors, activities that can be done indoors!

Joe Wicks PE class – daily at 9am

David Walliams is releasing an audio story every day for 30 days for free

Free Virtual Tours of World Museums, Educational Sites & Galleries For Children

British Sign Language – learn how to sign

Our very own Art Departments Pinterest page

OT at home – as a starting point, there are two very good Facebook groups, ‘sensory stuck at home’ and ‘sensory stuck at home teens’ which are being run by Sensory trained OTs offering advice, activity ideas, movement opportunities and support as required. How to create a sensory room in your home and hand writing without tears are both sites you may find useful along with Rachel’s OT Pinterest page. SENSEable is a weekly sensory workout which students can access with limited resources. 

Chatterbox – a list of free online, boredom busting resources!

Clare’s Coaching for Kids

Universal Project Guide

Radioblogging.net – daily shows with interactive activities to keep everyone busy and engaged

TTS – free downloadable workbooks

The Maths Factor – created by Carol Vorderman for children aged 4 – 12

Booktrust – stories for kids online and fun games and on youtube

Free children’s book online through Project Gutenberg. There are all kinds of categories and within each one a whole list of novels and stories – fact and fiction.

Twinkl – a large range of different subjects and focuses, arguably the best host of any resource you could need. Twinkl have offered a free account as a result of school closures.

BBC Bitesize – a huge range of different resources and information broken down into Key Stages and year groups.

Topmarks – a treasure trove of activities that cover a whole range of subjects. Also holds links to games etc. that are hosted by other sites.

GoNoodle – videos and games, mindfulness and meditation

TypingClub – learn touch typing for free

Mapzone from Ordnance Survey – quizzes, games and skills to try out

Imoves – fun activities for teachers and parents to keep children happy, healthy and focussed

Microsoft Teams – a guide to the basics

Immune system guidance and Supporting Your Immune System for students from our Nutrionist, Roz

Books for Africa

Books For Africa

A simple name for an organisation with a simple mission. They collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa. Their goal: to end the book famine in Africa.

Books For Africa remains the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 47 million books to all 55 countries on the African continent since 1988.  Last year alone, Books For Africa shipped 3.3 million books, and 155 computers and e-readers containing over 400,000 digital books, to 29 African countries. More than $2.7 million was raised last year to ship these books to the students of Africa.

Breckenbrough School are pleased to support this by donating resources no longer required by the school. We are pleased to share the certificate received from them for our latest donation.

Dogs for Good – family dog service

We cannot endorse this or any other service but we publish it as a matter of interest to students and families

Family Dog workshops provide parents of children with autism with the advice and long-term support needed for choosing and training a dog to benefit the whole family.

Family Dog workshop

Book a workshop

View our workshop locations and dates for 2020Book nowOur Workshops are ideal if you:

  • Are at the early stages of considering getting a dog to help your child with autism
  • Know that you want to get a dog and are looking for help choosing and handling a dog
  • Already have a pet dog but would like training ideas and support

We run a series of three one day workshops for families. At these you receive a combination of practical demonstrations, discussions, hands on learning and course hand outs. Find out what our workshops cover.

Our specialist advice and support has brought life-changing benefits to whole families. Research has shown that the families we work with have lowered parental stress, they go out more together and children with autism have fewer meltdowns as a result of their pet dog.

Long-term support

Following the workshops, ongoing support is available to families that qualify including telephone support, online resources, and a private Facebook group.

France Trip March 2019

Visit to the Somme Battlefields March 2019

Setting off from the school at midnight is rarely an ideal scenario for a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, most of us managed the odd “petit somme” on the coach. Sitting on a stationary coach whilst shuttling along under the channel is always a surreal experience – I think the students enjoyed it.
We eventually arrived at the largest Aquarium in Europe (rather aptly named “Nausicaa”) in Boulogne. Very impressive it was too…

After the uplifting experience that was “Nausicaa” we managed to find our way back to the errant coach (more of this later….) and on to the more sobering raison d’etre for the trip. The memorial to the Canadian forces at Vimy Ridge near Arras. The scale of the structure is breath-taking, notwithstanding the reason for its existence, the commemoration of the 11,241 (identified) casualties of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who have no known grave.

Another bracing walk brought us back to the coach – thankfully where the driver left it – and on to our modest accommodation, The Chateau de Warsy…

After the evening meal, the lads were taken under the wing of the resident instructors who, somewhat naively, thought they could tire them out. Eventually, we all retired for a much needed sleep.
Day 2 started well, a very continental breakfast of croissants and pain au chocolat. Spurred on by our very time mindful driver, we all boarded the coach and promptly got lost… in the village. Sacre bleu!
On to the town of Albert, rather bizarrely twinned with Ulverston, and the amazing WWI underground museum. We got the feeling that the coach driver thought he was in the Lake District…

On to the extraordinary spectacle that is the “Lochnagar Crater”. The result of the biggest explosion of the entire conflict
“In This distant Land, Will Some Kind Hand, Lay a Flower on His Grave for me”. One of many very sad, poignant epitaphs that surround the entire crater.
The allied miners tunneled for almost 4 miles and laid 60 thousand lbs of amonial explosives under the German fortifications. This was a common practice on both sides and inevitably resulted in huge loss of life.

Some of the students had made porcelain poppies in art. These were laid at the memorial at Thiepval. Again, this a colossal monument to the British troops killed in action on the Somme.

The memorial to the Newfoundland Regiment is an eerie and unsettling place and the scene of a disastrous assault on the German lines. The land on which it lies was bequeathed to the Canadian nation by the French.

Day 3 saw us leaving the splendid chateau and head home via the inevitable visit to the chocolate factory… a place that is notoriously hard to find, especially with a coach driver who obviously hadn’t studied map reading or geography at school.

On eventually arriving close to the channel tunnel, we were met with MILES of trucks queued waiting due to the French Customs holding industrial action – who would have thought? The boys accepted this extremely well, considering we joined this queue of trucks for no apparent reason other than our driver thinking it was a good idea… some three hours later we boarded the shuttle for home!