Here you will find a number of Frequently Asked Questions about The Switch Project and the support we provide young people.
If any of your questions that are not covered here, please feel free to contact us on either firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our office on 01902 552 288.
No, whilst we are based on a school site, we are not a school due to the short-term nature and small group setting of placements. It is important for referring organisations and parents/guardians to understand that during a placement we target the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and young people and do not offer significant core curriculum learning outcomes. As a result, we advise that referrals are given every opportunity to access additional educational provision where appropriate and that a placement with us does not prevent them from accessing that opportunity.
We are not a ‘school for naughty children,’ and we do not focus on ‘behaviour management.’ There is a common misconception that young people who attend The Switch Project are here as a punishment for misbehaviour, this is simply untrue. We work with a wide range of young people, of which many are vulnerable, struggle with self-confidence and identity, are uncomfortable in social situations or have suffered challenging childhood experiences, such as bereavement or bullying.
We provide a safe and supportive environment with dedicated and experienced staff that help young people to discover positive ways of managing themselves and their situations. At the same time we are able to provide assessments and observations to referring schools or organisations so that they can better support the young person in the future.
We do work with young people who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion from schools, but our primary aim is to understand the reasons for the issues experienced within school and help that young person return successfully to mainstream school as quickly as possible.
We are able to support children and young people using a structured social-emotional learning programme. This includes our character and values programme, aimed
at identifying and removing barriers to learning in order to help the young person flourish. Our emphasis is placed on supporting them to make good choices in both their educational and personal lives, giving them the ability to recognise and respond to their own emotions, form effective peer and adult relationships and to persevere through difficulty.
We provide short-term part-time placements for young people. We are not a school and do not deliver curriculum subjects, we only concentrate on supporting a young person’s social and emotional well-being. We will always tailor every placement to the needs of the young person and to ensure that they are getting the best support possible.
Some young people need short-term access to a higher level of social and emotional support than can be provided in a school environment. A short break in a safe, supportive and positive environment can be extremely beneficial. We encourage young people to reflect on the situations that have triggered their referrals and support them in identify ways to avoid recurrence and positively manage their situation in the future.
With a high staff to student ratio, we can spend time talking to individuals and we are able to engage their attention through activities that spark their interest. We usually see a marked improvement in attitude towards learning as they realise that it can be enjoyable. In a more relaxed environment we are also able to build positive relationships between young people and staff, encouraging them to develop their communication skills with adults and to learn how to use these appropriately to gain respect and trust back in school and at times in the home.
Our consistent approach to discipline and setting boundaries also allows us to pick up on issues much quicker and more directly than may be possible in a large school.
Whilst we clearly see the value of young people with particular needs accessing our provision, we are ultimately here to ensure they leave us as soon as they are ready and that their time with us is wholly positive and beneficial without any negative impact on their formal education or future progression and achievement.
The Switch Project targets the social and emotional needs of young people and does not offer significant core curriculum learning outcomes (English, Maths etc.). This is made clear to the school or Local Authority when the young person is referred and, as a result, we advise that wherever possible referrals are given the opportunity to access additional educational provision and a placement with us does not prevent them from doing so. Parents and guardians may want to ensure that their child is either accessing a core curriculum offer (English, Maths, Science etc.) on other days or gain reassurance from the school or Local Authority that a plan to reintegrate into mainstream education is in place to ensure that their formal education has minimum disruption. It is crucial that any removal from formal education, for even a short period of time, is for positive reasons designed to support the individual and increase their chances of fulfilling their future potential.
We have a large centre based on the grounds of Dovecotes Primary School. We have safe, modern facilities, including a number of Apple iMac Computers. There is enough space to accommodate most activities, but we do sometimes leave our premises to do outdoor activities. We have a therapeutic room for young people to access when taking part in 1-2-1 sessions with staff. We also have our own small kitchen where we do cooking activities.