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Priory Woods School & Arts College

Priory Woods School & Arts College A Special Place to Learn

Local Offer

Identification of need

  • Priory Woods is a community special school for pupils and students with moderate (MLD), severe (SLD) or profound and multiple (PMLD) learning difficulties and complex needs. Pupils may have additional needs such as a physical disability, sensory loss, ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), emotional or behavioural difficulties.
  • Pupils attend Priory Woods School from the age of 4 years and leave aged 19 years.
  • All pupils who attend the school have a EHCP
  • EHC plans are written in close consultation with parents. A range of professionals involved with the child or young person contribute to the process. The EHCP helps to determine what level of educational, social and health support your child needs.
  • On entry to Priory Woods every child is assessed, this is called a baseline assessment and the information is recorded and stored. Formal assessments are then carried out at regular intervals so we can track your child’s progress over time.


  • Priory Woods operates a number of different curriculum models to meet the different needs of the pupils in relation to their age, ability, social and emotional development. For example, pupils with profound and multiple needs have access to therapies and a sensory curriculum, while more able pupils have additional maths and English lessons and access to Entry Level accreditation.
  • Students are grouped according to age for registration and some pastoral activities. The curriculum offered to each student depends on decisions made on how to best meet individual needs and the long term aims in the EHCP. Pathways include following an informal curriculum, semi-formal curriculum or formal curriculum, although these are not exclusive and some learners may access aspects of more than one.
  • In some exceptional cases pupils are helped to attend school and access the curriculum with a personalised timetable.
  • As an arts college every pupil has the equivalent of a day a week devoted to the arts. Arts activities include dance, drama, art, singing and music.


  • Priory Woods School is a purpose built special school with excellent access for all. There is disabled parking at the front of school and all visitors are able to access the main reception via an accessible entrance.
  •  Access to the first floor is via either stairs or a large lift, there is a second smaller lift for emergency use.
  • Most classrooms have overhead tracking hoists to allow for the safe and dignified movement of pupils when necessary. Mobile hoists are also available.
  • There are disabled toilets throughout school and fully equipped hygiene rooms on every corridor.
  • Specialist facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, with a hoist and track directly from the changing rooms to the pool, a rebound therapy room and a multi-sensory room.
  • Outside play areas have wheelchair accessible swings and a roundabout. The school mini bus is also wheelchair accessible.
  • ICT is used to help some of our pupils access the curriculum; there are interactive white boards, switches and communication aids available in every class.
  • Interpreters and multi-cultural workers are engaged as and when necessary to help us communicate with parents whose first language is not English. Our website can be translated into a number of languages at the click of a button.


  • The first point of contact is the class teacher in lower school and form teachers in upper school and Post 16. Teachers have overall responsibility for the welfare of the children or young people in their class. They are supported in this role by the senior leadership team and health and social care professionals.
  • Class teachers are supported in the classroom by teaching assistants.
  • Care assistants are employed to look after the personal needs of some pupils.

Parental Involvement

  • Parents are encouraged to support their child’s learning at home. Ideas for activities to support topics are sent home each term.
  • Parent workshops are held to help parents support their child e.g. “Let’s Play Together”, “Let’s Read Together”, E Safety, Sex and Relationships
  • Parents are invited to 'Beginning of Year' meetings to meet class staff and receive important information about life in Priory Woods.
  • Parents are invited to an annual meeting to review their child’s EHCP.
  • Open events are held in the summer term so parents can meet their child’s teachers and look at their work in different subject areas.
  • Home school diaries are used to support communication between home and school and parents are encouraged to use these where appropriate.
  • Parents are invited into school regularly to share in a range of activities which include; religious festivals, performances, coffee mornings and art exhibitions.
  • There are two parent governors and an active PTA which parents are encouraged to join.

Overall Well Being & Specialist Services

Medical Support 

  • On site medical support is provided by the School Nursing Service who provide a nurse on a daily basis. One full-time physiotherapy assistant is supervised by one part-time physiotherapist. Speech and language therapy is provided by a number of specialist therapists. Occupational therapy support is provided.         
  • Medicals, dental inspections and paediatric clinics are held in school. Other specialist clinics held in school include; Audiology, Eating & Drinking, Continence, Orthotics and Wheelchair.
  • Agency workers are provided by the Health Authority to provide medical support to a small number of pupils with very complex needs.

Social Support

  • A Parent Support Adviser is employed part-time to support parents, liaise between home and school and monitor attendance.
  • The school works closely with Social Services and other care providers to support the welfare of pupils.
  • The Transition Team, which is made up of a nurse, social workers and careers advisors, provide support and guidance when your child is preparing to leave school.
  • Workshops/drop ins by outside agencies e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau are held, on an occasional basis, in school to provide guidance to Post 16 students and parents.

Further Support

  • In school there is a support base that provides intensive support for pupils who require access to a sensory diet or specific support with communication.
  • Additional support is available from LD CAHMS, the educational psychologist and peripatetic services for hearing and visually impaired pupils.    

Staff Training

  • All teachers have qualified teacher status and teaching assistants have a minimum of a Level 2 qualification.
  • There is a comprehensive induction programme that ensures all staff are trained in positive handling strategies, manual handling, safeguarding, Prevent, tube feeding and other medical procedures necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our pupils.
  • There is an ongoing programme of professional development to ensure teachers and teaching assistants meet the special educational needs of our pupils and stay up to date with current research into teaching and learning. 
  • Staff have a range of specialist qualifications either in a curriculum subject area such as art or in an area of special educational needs e.g. autism.
  • Priory Woods School is a member of the Middlesbrough Schools Teaching Alliance and Tees Valley Education Teaching Alliance.

Activities outside of school

  • Priory Woods is committed to providing all pupils and students with equal access to an enriched and extended curriculum.
  • Residential holidays are organised to different centres so that all pupils, including those with PMLD and complex needs, have an opportunity to take part. 
  • The Erasmus project supports pupils to travel abroad to visit partner schools in Europe.
  • Visits to local theatres, art galleries, historic sites etc. are used to enhance and enrich the curriculum. Visiting artists and theatre companies allow all students, including our least able pupils, access to cultural experiences.
  • A variety of after school clubs cater for a range of interests and abilities and include; hydrotherapy, rebound therapy, art, dance, music, cookery, PE, football and youth club.


  • Most children and young people enter school in September, at reception age, from the Cleveland Child Development and Assessment Unit and in Y7 from a primary or special school.
  • We run a comprehensive induction programme which includes visits by us to the different educational establishments, to meet our new pupils, and visits by the new pupils to meet us. These visits usually take place in the summer term and culminate in the new pupils spending several full days at Priory Woods.
  • Parents are invited to look around the school and to attend a new parents coffee morning so we can introduce the team of people who will be working with their child and gather vital information.
  • Children and young people joining Priory Woods in the middle of an academic year do so by arrangement with the head teacher.
  • Transition from school to college and adult services starts in Post 16 and the school works closely with parents, the Transitions Team and placement providers to prepare our young people for life after school. Some P16 students spend one day a week at Middlesbrough College, Askham Bryan or Prior Pursglove College to support informed decision making for post 19 education.  Others attend transition days at a future day placement, in preparation for leaving school.


  • Home to school transport is usually provided free to the majority of our pupils by the Local Authority.
  • Pupils travel to school in a mini bus or taxi and on most journeys to and from school the pupils are accompanied by a passenger assistant.
  • Further details regarding home school transport can be obtained from the Transport Department on 01642 353447

SEND Resources

  • Every child receives base funding and a ‘top up’ based on their level of need. The level of need informs which band a child falls into. This is reviewed on a regular basis and may change depending on circumstances.

Further information

Priory Woods School & Arts College

Tothill Avenue




Tel:               01642 770540                                                                                             

Fax:              01642 770541

Head Teacher: Mrs. Janis French

For further information about Priory Woods School contact the school:

Middlesbrough Council web site is:

SEN Officer               David Ball