The Centre's Values And Ethos
Forest House Education Centre exists to help its pupils progress towards better mental health functioning within education and the community, in partnership with both the Forest House Adolescent Unit and colleagues within mainstream and specialist education.
We seek to recognise and foster progress in all aspects of education, whether formally academic or otherwise, through an environment and curriculum which promote the academic, physical, moral and cultural development of all our pupils, irrespective of their needs, circumstances or abilities, and through the British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths or beliefs.
We believe that education exists both within and beyond the classroom, and that the work we do can represent a significant component in an individual's journey towards recovery.
Our Work and Context
Forest House Education Centre is a hospital school for 13-18 year old students, attached to the Forest House Adolescent Unit, a Tier 4 CAMHS in-patient facility on the Kingsley Green hospital site. The Centre provides education for the patients occupying the Adolescent Unit's sixteen beds, while additionally being the sole educator for a small number of 'day pupils' who are referred to us by ESTMA (the LEA's tutorial service for young people who are out of mainstream education for medical reasons). Since all of our pupils have issues affecting their mental health, supporting them towards better mental health functioning within education (cultivating good communication skills, working to overcome barriers presented by illness, increasing motivation, encouraging hope for the future) is central to our work.
Nonetheless, the Education Centre aims to emulate the core characteristics of a mainstream school (excellent quality educational provision, high aspirations, structure, variety) in a context that is nurturing, stimulating, and small enough to be meet the individual needs of our students.
Students up to GCSE level are taught the 'core' subjects of maths, English and science in small classes, while post-16 students follow individual learning programmes (supported by any home school or college with which they are working). All students also follow an 'enrichment' curriculum composed of a combination of: art, PE, drama, work-related learning, citizenship, general studies and humanities. As an exam centre, we are able to meet the accreditation needs of our day pupils, and provide a venue for hospital patients whose exams need to be transferred to us for medical reasons.
Twice a year, in the weeks leading up to the Christmas and summer holidays, the Centre follows an 'enrichment' timetable in order to conduct an enterprise project and produce a play. These projects form part of a larger programme of activities intended to boost our students' confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.
Students who are with the Centre on a permanent basis work towards the requirements of the Edexcel International GCSE 'English Language - Specification A'. This work has to be combined with short-term students who are following the requirements of the GCSE English Language and English Literature courses at their mainstream schools. In practice, as over 95% of Hertfordshire schools follow the AQA GCSE course, this means complying with the AQA specification in these subjects, with the updated focus on 'Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing' and examining 'Writers' Viewpoints and Perspectives'.
To broaden the approach and allow for extra accreditation for long term students and free-standing accreditation for short term students, there is an opportunity (where appropriate) to achieve Level 1 or Level 2 qualifications in AQA Functional English. This gives students the opportunity to improve and be accredited for Speaking, Listening and Communication Skills, in addition to improving reading and writing skills in the context of a range of relevant, real-life texts, contexts and scenarios.
The Centre's core curriculum for maths up to GCSE level is based on the requirements of the Edexcel (9-1) 2015 Maths GCSE specification. Again, however, individual students will have their work differentiated according to individual needs and the exam requirements of their mainstream school. Many students (both pre- and post-GCSE) also work towards Level 1 and/or 2 qualifications in Edexcel Functional Skills Maths, preparation work for which is dovetailed into the broader maths curriculum.
The Centre's current core curriculum for science up to GCSE level is derived from the requirements of the biology, chemistry and physics single-award components of the AQA International GCSE Science Suite of qualifications. As with maths and English, however, individual students will have their work differentiated according to individual needs and the exam requirements of their mainstream school (very often, for Hertfordshire schools, the AQA GCSE specifications). Many students, for whom single-award science study may be too demanding or restrictive in content, work instead towards L1/L2 or Edexcel Entry Level qualifications in science instead of proceeding to GCSE, and the curriculum is differentiated accordingly.
The FHEC science curriculum, where possible (and often in non-classroom contexts such as assemblies) also references the calendar and seasons, as well as work-related learning themes and events occurring in the outside world.
Drama is taught as an 'enrichment' element of the Centre curriculum, supporting the 'Mental Health Functioning in Education' (MHFiE) priorities of the Centre, with the focus upon participation, collaboration, creativity and confidence-building - although these are structured into flexible, long-term schemes of work with themes such as 'Drama Over Time' and 'Drama Across Cultures'. Work in drama supports work in English, through its promotion of literacy and presentational skills.
Art is also taught as an 'enrichment' element of the Centre curriculum, with the focus upon creativity, building self-esteem, promoting self-awareness, developing dexterity and improving core skills. Schemes of work usually focus on the in-depth exploration of a particular artist, style or genre, but with outcomes centred on the process and production of pupil artwork. For long-term pupils, study to GCSE is sometimes possible, at which point additional tuition is given, directed towards meeting the requirements of the Edexcel Art & Design GCSE specification.
Work-related learning occupies a fixed, two-period slot on a Friday morning and is a core element of the 'enrichment' curriculum. The focus of lessons is diverse in nature, from team-building games and exercises (focused on exploring alternative modes of learning, while cultivating community-, work- and life-relevant personal attributes and skills) to the pragmatic business of job searching, application and interview practice.
The focus of the Centre's music curriculum is cohort-dependent, and planned in short-term schemes of work to meet the needs, abilities and interests of both individuals and groups of pupils using the Centre. In all instances, the guiding principle is one of access, inclusion and confidence-building (no matter the skill level or experience of participants), meaning that (for instance) those with no conventional musical education can take part in 'pop-up bands' (using technology such as Kaossilators) alongside more experienced musicians. Participation takes priority over performance, although when cohorts can access more demanding work, broader themes (music history, theory, culture and aesthetics) are also explored.
As with music, pupil aspirations and needs (particularly the wish, or otherwise, to obtain formal accreditation at GCSE level) also influence the focus of these areas of the curriculum; core schemes of work seek to support the 'enrichment' priorities of the Centre's work (challenging the 'introversion' of many mental health conditions, and affording pupils a wider awareness and appreciation of history, culture, social diversity, geography, the arts, religion and belief), while key strands are sometimes developed further in order to meet the requirements of qualifications such as AQA GCSE General Studies or AQA Short-Course GCSE in Religious Studies (Unit 6: Worship & Key Beliefs).
Physical education in Forest House Education Centre is intended fully to support the Mental Health Functioning in Education (MHFiE) priorities which are are the core of the Centre's work; students are encouraged to build their self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience through activities which allow access and inclusion for those most challenged (including those with physical disabilities), while building skills and physical fitness in more able, enthusiastic and motivated pupils. Fortnightly yoga (delivered by a highly experienced visiting tutor) compliments more overtly competitive 'in-house' activities such as table tennis (usually undertaken as a team activity), while regular gym visits serve a dual function of improving physical fitness while exposing students to the challenge of using public, off-site facilities.
'Carousel' Subjects - Money Management, Citizenship, ICT, E-Safety, Media Studies, Current Affairs
Additional subjects are timetabled, on a loose 'carousel' basis, according to accrediation needs, the identification of 'gaps' in a cohort's skills or knowledge profile, and in response to the student voice/opinions ('Current Affairs', for instance, was introduced as a response to a frequent observation by in-patient pupils that life on the hospital Unit severely isolated them from awareness of the world outside). The focus of schemes of work is generally with progression back into community life in mind (and thus supports the MHFiE priorities), although students are encouraged to obtain accrediation where possible (by obtaining a Level 1 or 2 award in NOCN Money Management, for instance).
Day Pupils' Independence Skills/Life Skills/Food Technology
The Centre's small cohort of day pupils (whose mental health needs are being met within the community rather than within Forest House Adolescent Unit) often have historical issues of school refusal and chronic social anxiety. In order to address these issues, and improve their chances of successfully transitioning to a mainstream post-16 educational provision, Independence/Life Skills and Food Technology lessons are provided to give opportunities to develop and practice skills beyond the conventional classroom - travel skills, shopping, cooking, pursuing leisure activites and so on are tailored to the individual's and the cohort's requirements, with the curriculum specifics evolving from areas of interest, need and opportunity.
For further information regarding the FHEC curriculum, please feel free to contact the Centre either by phone or email.
A short PDF outlining the Centre's main activities can be downloaded here.
A copy of the Centre timetable (also in PDF format) can be downloaded here. Please note that our timetable often changes to accommodate individual pupil needs and the shifting composition of our student body.