PAC UK: Supporting children beyond school perimeters

Schools play a fundamental role in the development of children and young people. They can provide an invaluable point of support for students – some of whom need it more than others.

Northwood Primary School, Darlington, has gone above and beyond to ensure they are providing students with the support that they need and have recently been awarded ‘adoption friendly’ status. Headteacher, Zoe Beach, shares their story.

Northwood Primary School was recently recognised as an ‘adoption friendly’ school by PAC UK. It’s the only school in Darlington to achieve what is called Beacon status and will act as a hub for children who are adopted, looked after or have suffered early attachment disorders or trauma.

PAC UK is the UK’s largest independent adoption support agency and focuses on supporting adopted children who have experienced trauma in their early lives that may impact on their school journey.

To support and nurture

A key principle at Northwood is to support vulnerable children; in order to do this effectively staff undertook training – some specific to adopted children, but most which will actually benefit all children and staff – to ensure that the school and staff are supporting students as much as possible.

“Northwood Primary School understands the uniqueness of every child and we support children, their parents and carers to prepare them for life beyond our school. We have undertaken robust training with PAC UK to become Darlington’s leading school in this area and will now help to deliver training on this across the local authority,” Zoe explains.

“At Northwood, one of the principles we have put in place to support vulnerable children is to develop a nurture group. We have a room called ‘The Den’, which offers children experiences they might not get to have in a home environment, such as cooking, gardening and crafts. Some of our Year 5 boys are taking part in Wilderness Schooling once a week which is based on the benefits of outdoor learning principles.

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“We use a classroom as a safe base and a calm-down area where there is a chance for a timeout and help children to understand and manage any life changes.”

Providing equal opportunity for all

Central to this is a sincere desire to ensure that all students have equal opportunity, the chance to access education and the support they need to be able to get the most from it – academically but also from a personal perspective.

“Northwood fully understands the importance of nurture principles for the development of self-esteem and we also do a lot of work on language and behaviour as being a vital part of communication,” Zoe continues.

As part of Lingfield Education Trust, a MAT comprising of six schools across Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire, Northwood Primary School enjoys the support of a family of schools – each committed to providing the best educational experience that they can for their students.

Discussing Northwood’s recent award, Nick Blackburn, chief executive of Lingfield Education Trust, said: “This is a fantastic example of one of our Trust schools leading the way as an example of best practice in order to support our children and families to help them get the best outcomes possible in life.

Delivering positive change

“The team at Northwood is helping to influence positive change with families, but also across the rest of the district and region by sharing experience which will help others to continually develop.”

This is the kind of inspirational work that schools across the UK are doing in the face of financial and operational activities. It’s reassuring to see the dedication that educators have to provide the best education that they can for students.

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