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Priory Woods School & Arts College

Priory Woods School & Arts College A Special Place to Learn

Accessibility Plan

Priory Woods School & Arts College Accessibility Plan


Priory Woods School and Arts College is a special school catering for pupils aged 4 – 19years old. We cater for a wide range of needs, including students with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), severe learning difficulties, moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and complex needs, including students with social, communication and interaction difficulties.

All students have a statement or an Education Health Care plan (EHCP)

It was a purpose built building, designed and built with Building Schools for the Future Funding in 2010

The proportion of students known to be eligible for Pupil premium funding is 60%. We have a range of nationalities and some students from multi speaking homes.

We believe that this Accessibility Plan is compliant with current legislation and requirements specified in Schedule 10, relating to Disability, of the Equality Act 2010. The Governing body is accountable for ensuring the implementation, review and reporting on progress of the Accessibility Plan over a 3 year period.

Vision and values

By working together, our pupils will enjoy a creative, innovative, exciting and challenging curriculum within a safe environment which will enrich and enhance every child’s learning.

We aim to achieve our vision by

  • creating an ethos where everyone values and respects themselves and each other
  • creating an inclusive environment which fosters a sense of belonging
  • enabling our young people to fulfil their potential through high expectations, aspirations and learning opportunities which meet their individual learning needs
  • the promotion of pupil voice where opinions are valued, encouraged and which can influence change

Underpinning these aims are our values:

At Priory Woods, we value

  • Looking after each other and our school
  • Honesty
  • Being kind
  • Working Hard
  • Listening to each other and working together.

Priory Woods School & Arts College is accessible, inclusive and has close links to and with the community. It is a school where diversity is celebrated and strong partnerships are built. It provides an environment where students are offered every opportunity to maximise their potential, grow in confidence and above all, be happy.

Access and Priory Woods Policy and Procedures

The Equality Act 2010, which replaced previous discrimination law and provides a single piece of legislation covering all the types of discrimination that are unlawful. We adhere to the Equality Act throughout all of our policies and practice to ensure that students access learning and the school environment across both sites.

Schools and Local Authorities have to carry out accessibility planning for disabled pupils.

Our school’s accessibility plans are aimed at:

• Increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum

• Improving the physical environment of schools to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of education, benefits, facilities and services provided, and

• Improving the availability of accessible information to disabled pupils

We recognise the need to provide adequate resources for implementing plans and will regularly review them.

Definition of a Disability

The definition of disability under the law is a wide one. A disabled person is someone who has a

• Physical or mental impairment that has an adverse, substantial and long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

The definition includes people with a Hearing or Visual Impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, mental health issues and incontinence. People with ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Downs Syndrome and Hydrocephalus are included. Medical conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, severe Asthma, Diabetes, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Sickle Cell Anaemia and HIV are deemed disabilities. Facial disfigurement, severe Dyslexia, gross obesity and diagnosed eating disorders are all included.

If a person has been disabled in the past (for example, cancer recoverers, those who have recovered from cancer and people with a history of mental illness) they are still covered by the legislation for the rest of their life.

It is likely that every school in Middlesbrough has disabled pupils, staff members and service users.

Information gathering

In meeting the duty to collect and publish this information we have looked more closely at the following in order to formulate a meaningful access plan.

Key starting points have been to assess:

• The nature of the school population for whom the school is planning

• The nature of the school, including a consideration of the impact of the school’s existing plans and priorities

Pupil information will include a range of data:

• Pupils already in school and moving through it

• The nature of the future intake (advance information from pre-school/primary school etc.)

We have considered by conducting an audit of school’s strengths and weaknesses in working with disabled pupils. As part of this audit we considered:

• The level of staff awareness of Equalities legislation

• The presence of disabled pupils and their participation in the life of the school, for example, patterns of attendance and exclusions, areas of the curriculum to which disabled pupils have access to and the participation of disabled pupils in after school clubs and school visits.

• The impact on disabled pupils of the way the school is organised, for example, school policies and practices around the administration of medicines, time-tabling, anti- bullying policy, school trips and teaching and learning.

• The physical environment of the school

• The curriculum

• The ways in which information is currently provided for disabled pupils

• Outcomes for disabled pupils including end of key stage results and achievements in extracurricular activities

Involving disabled people 

We involve our students in decision making via the School Council and have invited parents to contact school should they have any matters that they wish school to address or to explore.

The plan has been informed by:

• The views and aspirations of disabled pupils themselves

• The views and aspirations of the families of disabled pupils

• The priorities of the local authority

Access Plan for Our School (from September 2016 to September 2019)

The Accessibility plan covers three main areas;

  • The curriculum

  • The physical environment

  • Communication with families

1. Increasing access to the school curriculum


Improving teaching and learning lies at the heart of the school’s work. Through self-evaluation and continuous professional development we aim to enhance staff knowledge, skills and understanding to promote outstanding learning for all children. It is a core value of the school that all children are enabled to participate fully in the broader life of the school. Consequently, all children are encouraged to attend school clubs, leisure and cultural activities with frequent visits and real life experiences. 


Physical environment

Information for pupils

The curriculum addresses the needs of students as individuals in addition to fulfilling the statutory requirements to provide access to the National Curriculum.

At Priory Woods we follow the NC POS (programmes of study) wherever possible and we use a creative curriculum to meet the needs of the varied and individual needs of our students. In practice this will mean that most students will follow modified POS and may use POS from earlier key stages. There are some students whereby it is stated within their EHCP that the full range of NC subjects will not be followed due personalised timetables and the need to address personal priority needs. We ensure that all students can access activities that we offer and adaptations to equipments and activities are made to fulfil this aim. For students to access the curriculum lessons are highly differentiated and take account of individual learning difficulties. Priority is placed upon student participation, in as independent a way as possible. Adults are clear about the learning outcomes of the lesson, class and individuals.

Good communication is supported by the use of signing, symbols, EYE Gaze, and low and high tech communication aids (Alternative and Augmentative communication (AAC) devices). All students s have appropriate access to technology to support their learning.

We use adapted curriculum materials and sensory approaches for children with sensory impairments and provide suitable environments and teaching methods for students with complex needs.

Our minibuses are designed to take wheelchairs to ensure that ll children can take part in off site activities. As a school we encourage independence in our students and strive to ensure that they experience full and rewarding lives.

Planned specific staff training to improve access to the curriculum is available.

Any identified specialist equipment that will increase access to the curriculum for disabled pupils will be purchased.

Regular reviews of the participation of disabled pupils during lesson observations will inform future developments in inclusion.

The school will continue to seek and follow the advice of LA services, such as the SEN Team and appropriate health professionals to ensure that barriers to learning are reduced and enable students to fulfil their potential.

Students in  School enjoy learning in lots of exciting ways. Following a common theme, the learning is structured around the Early Years Foundation Stage model and is adapted accordingly to meet pupils’ needs.  Every minute of the day is an opportunity to learn, including class based activities, outdoor learning, physical activities, visits into the community, dinner time

and play time.

Pupils also benefit from our whole school focus on creative and performing arts, enjoying dance and drama, art and music.

Upper School

Pupils in Upper School are based in a form group, and then have different learning groups which are arranged to meet their learning needs. Independence is encouraged and pupils move to different classes for different subjects. As in Lower School, every minute is an opportunity to learn and to build on their learning from their primary years.

Upper School students begin to work towards accredited learning appropriate to their needs and abilities. These can include AQA units and sometimes, Entry Level qualifications.


In  P16 students continue to build on all their previous learning, with the focus changing to supporting the transition to adult life. Students focus on further developing their skills within a framework which supports using these functionally.  There are many opportunities to gain accreditation for learning, including City and Guilds Entry Level qualifications in hospitality gained through working in our very own Cafe 16.

Alongside this, all students continue to benefit from creative and performing arts and all continue to have fun!


The school was purpose built to meet the wide range of needs that our students present.

The school is fully accessible for all students, staff and visitors. WE have a fully accessible specialist physio room, nurse’s room, soft play, rebound therapy space, hydrotherapy pool, hygiene rooms and sensory room. The Outdoor environment is also fully accessible in addition to the allocated parking space for the parents of disabled pupils or disabled visitors. It is ensured that the space is not used inappropriately, or blocked by other vehicles. Access into school from the parking space is level with no obstacles. The provision of disabled parking spaces is in close proximity to the entrance of the building.

Those students requiring it have access to the use of hoists, Achievers, side lyers and class wheelchairs. The school has wide corridors to accommodate the wheelchair traffic including the larger electric chairs.

Physically disabled pupils access the upper floor via a lift. In the case of a fire the Fire Lift is used and students are placed in a safe space until they are able to travel in the lift.

Level access is not the only consideration for wheelchair users. Heavy doors, sharp narrow turns and cluttered corridors will all be barriers to access. Where classroom space is tight, adjustments may have to be made to classroom layout in order to facilitate access.

Some disabled pupils will need specialist furniture in order to access the curriculum. Schools have a responsibility to provide auxiliary aids and services for disabled pupils and this can include specialist equipment. Schools should make themselves aware of any existing support to purchase equipment.

The design and creation of a Forest School area and all outdoor learning provisions/spaces throughout school will ensure equality of opportunity for all students in both it’s design and timetabling access.

On admission to Priory Woods a dynamic assessment is made regarding the needs of each individual student to ensure that facilities are accessible and where appropriate any necessary identified adaptations will be made to ensure accessibility.

Priory Woods will take account of the needs of students and visitors with physical difficulties and sensory impairments when planning and undertaking any potential future improvements and refurbishments of the site and premises, such as lighting, acoustic treatment, colour schemes and more accessible facilities and fittings.


All information issued by school aims to be user friendly. Makaton singing and symbols (Communication in Print) are used throughout the school, in addition to Eye Gaze as a communication and learning tool for those PMLD students that are able to access/use it.

Associated Policies and plans

This plan should be read in conjunction with other relevant documents, including:

Equal Opportunity Policy; Lifting and Handling Policy: Teaching and Learning Policy; SEN Policy and Risk Assessment Policy