Fagus is an innovative project originally set up by Beech Lodge School.
Beech Lodge School is a pioneering progressive co-educational independent special school for pupils aged 7-18, with a maximum capacity of 96 pupils. We provide an alternative educational experience for children who have needs that are difficult to meet in a conventional school setting. All children have moderate special educational needs including SpLD and social and emotional difficulties, anxiety and trauma related difficulties.
We started in a converted barn with 5 pupils, but have since relocated to purpose-built facilities, located in rural Berkshire with extensive grounds and state-of-the-art facilities, which include tennis courts, 5-a-side football pitches, a small animal farm, vegetable and flower gardens and a low ropes course.
We are committed to promoting a greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by children who have attachment difficulties and developmental trauma in school and have already run a very successful series of childhood trauma workshops to external delegates. In addition, we plan to open an outreach department catering for children who are unable to access school for a variety of reasons.
At Beech Lodge School we seek to develop each individual to their full potential, academically, emotionally and socially so they can learn, achieve and prepare themselves for future independent lives. Our approach is holistic, nurturing and based on the Dan Hughes' PACE model, which is rooted in attachment theory. We have a broad and balanced academic curriculum and a social-emotional/therapeutic approach to support pupils' well-being. Our curriculum also includes rich outdoor learning experiences and extra curricular opportunities such as circus skills, sporting and art activities to enhance relationships and foster resilience and cooperation.
Pupils are grouped not just according to their academic pathways but also to their social and emotional needs and staffed accordingly. Pastoral times punctuate the day and we scaffold a child's development and provide frameworks and support so the child can learn new skills. There are many practical, hands-on activities that help our pupils develop knowledge and skills, resulting in increased self-confidence and enabling them to be ready for independent futures, all supported by individual programmes and planning.
- Understand how trauma and attachment affects the child’s brain and development and is shown through their actions and behaviours. Not what is wrong with them but what has happened to them.
- Are able to interpret the child's action correctly.
- Emotionally resilient to be able to remain child centred in the face of challenging behaviour.
- Know the child’s history which helps decode behaviour.
- Understand that every interaction matters - a whole school system approach.
- Reflective system and able to consider impact of trauma at all levels.
- Are able to react consciously and with empathy to the child’s behaviour, rather than emotionally.
- Receive excellent support and supervision and cared for.
- Are experienced in working with pupils who have encountered negative experiences at their previous educational settings.
- Provide collective support to help young people deal with anger positively, develop self-esteem, self awareness and effective communication skills, helping them manage their own behaviour and become comfortable with their own feelings and emotions.
Fagus at Beech Lodge School
At Beech Lodge School all our children have social and emotional needs and these can impact their learning. A detailed analysis of our pupils' social and emotional behaviour means that we are able to prioritise each pupil's most pressing issues. Moreover rigorous monitoring and tracking mean staff quickly pick up on any emerging difficulties, so that additional support can be put in place. The Fagus framework gathers social and emotional data in order to help staff understand behavioural challenges and provide a mechanism to measure progress in social and emotional goals as well as academic indicators.
The school completes online Developmental Profiles for every child, these highlight the areas where a pupil is most developmentally behind. Professionals can act on this information by setting goals and focusing interventions in the pupil's area of need. All Fagus profiles are kept on pupil files with an overview of goals, interventions and progress which is shared with parents.