Stepping Stones School
“A school that feels like home”.
Stepping Stones School is currently a small independent school for up to 40 students but is set to grow over the next three years. The school has established itself as a leading provider of education, therapy, care and support for young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities including: physical, medical, anxiety and autistic spectrum difficulties.
The school is a warm, welcoming and supportive environment, where positive and relaxed relationships exist between staff, students and families. Our nurturing, inclusive and friendly approach provides great support to our students and their families. The dedicated staff team encourage, support and empower students to attain their full potential. Working together, we enable our students to become independent, successful young people who can be proud of their achievements.
Stepping Stones was established as a registered charity in 2004 by parents of children with special educational needs who were not flourishing in a mainstream school environment. The school’s primary aim remains to provide a first rate education for young people who would benefit from a mainstream curriculum delivered in a special school setting. While originally conceived as a school, to cater for the needs of young people with hemiplegia, the school has successfully included students with a specific learning difficulty, those on the autistic spectrum, with mild visual and/or hearing impairment, with other forms of cerebral palsy.
Stepping Stones has developed a curriculum, an ethos and a teaching, mentoring style that allows disabled and disadvantaged young people to grow emotionally and progress academically.
“The school provides an outstanding quality of education” Ofsted 2012.
Its nurturing style, its family environment and its informality mark it out, and have been noted by Ofsted. The philosophy and practice of the school may best be described as a small school, with small classes and great teaching, led by people who want to make a real difference to education.
Class sizes are very small, with no teaching group being greater than eight, and often less. The staff group is highly experienced and diverse in its expertise, including secondary subject specialists. Also very highly regarded and valued is its small flexible, on demand therapy provision. Such provision is frequently not available in mainstream schools, to the frustration of parents and to the detriment of the child’s well being and learning.
The school is currently housed in a sympathetically converted church building, which is fully accessible. It is located very close to the A3 trunk road and students are admitted from Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex and Kingston. The school has grown steadily over the past 10 years to its current size of 40 pupils and until now the size of the building now limited any further expansion. Plans are in place to develop new accommodation for up to 64 students from September 2014. This may now be delayed to January 2016 due to planning objections.
“The curriculum is outstanding. It is broad, balanced and provides full access to the N.C.” Ofsted 2012. Students look out for one another and, crucially, understand each other’s difficulties. “Students’ outstanding behavior is reflected in the high levels of care and respect students show for each other.” Ofsted 2012.
The school is very well known within the local community. The Stepping Stones Cookie Bar, our social enterprise project, is supported by parents who volunteer to work there and has proved a popular venue for local residents; students undertake work experience there and display artwork. A small amount of profit accrues to the school.
The school collaborates with primary, prep and special schools over concerts, plays and sporting activities, sharing facilities and undertaking joint productions. A strong link with a nearby care home has been established. We are always looking for volunteers to work at our Cookie Bar so please don’t be shy introduce yourself and get involved!
The Stepping Stones School at Undershaw.
The School Trustees have taken the significant decision to expand the school to meet the growing demand for places and meet the changing needs of students. This has been made possible due to the generous support from the DFN Foundation working in partnership with the Coins Foundation to establish new extended provision.
Undershaw House, Conan Doyle’s home for many years has been purchased and plans are being prepared to convert it and build the additional specialist facilities needed. Extensive consultation with stakeholders has enabled the school to identify the building specification required and plans have now been approved by Trustees at a cost of almost £5 million. The building has been purchased and funding for much of the building work is securely in place.
Undershaw is set in three acres of mature garden. The school will create “a school that feels like home”, as one of our parents described it. The main house will provide a welcoming entrance, classrooms, café and catering kitchen as well as therapy and administration space. A new purpose built extension will provide specialist classrooms, music and drama space, main hall, physiotherapy facilities and large hydrotherapy, swimming pool. The whole complex, including the grounds, will be made accessible to disabled children and adults. The new provision will be almost four times the size of the current building and provide facilities which will be made available to local community groups.
Tower Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6SU