Snowfields Academy is a new, purpose built SEN secondary school in Kent. A Free School, funded by the Department of Education, it will cater for up to 140 students from Year 7 to Year 13, all with ASD as their primary need. Classes are small with up to 12 students in each class, and two classes in each year group. We opened in September 2020 with two Year 7 classes, 1 year 8 class and 1 year 9 class and will open a second Year 8 class in year. The student population will grow from the bottom up, with students accessing Year 12 in September 2023. We are likely to be full in every year group in September 2024.
All students joining us have an Education, Health and Care Plan, and are working at age expected levels of attainment or within around 2 years of this on entry. Many also have some co-morbid additional needs such as high levels of anxiety, speech and language needs, sensory needs and some behavioural difficulties as part of their ASD diagnosis. We are unable to offer places to students who have Social Emotional and Mental Health as their primary need and barrier to learning.
Most of our young people will be able to access GCSEs, and others will undertake a range of other, relevant qualifications. We offer a specialist curriculum planned to meet the needs of students with ASD which includes a balance of academic and vocational learning. Traditional subjects include maths, English, Science and ICT, PSHE, Arts and Sport. These sit alongside vocational learning opportunities in Horticulture, Catering, office skills and retail, and life skills which help prepare students for the world of work.
Our approach to learning at Snowfields Academy is one of providing the very best, inspiring and personalised teaching opportunities which promote excellent learning and progress by reducing the range of barriers to learning experienced by the young people we teach.
At Snowfields our priorities are holistic. It is not enough for a student to gain an impressive array of qualifications if their wellbeing, happiness and ability to take part within their family, community and society is compromised. We will always stand for helping young people to live well with their autism and work with them to achieve their dreams. We will always work closely with families, for they know their child best, and other professionals, to go the extra mile and deliver what is right for each and every student.
At Snowfields Academy, arriving and departing school each day, lunchtimes and break times, relationships and behaviour will always be as important, and sometimes more valuable than academic learning. Although difficult to measure, personal and social progress, reductions in anxiety and increases in happiness and wellbeing, will always form the basis of the academy’s approach to each and every day. School should be a place of happiness; students, and staff should feel valued, supported and celebrated for who they are and not just what they achieve. Our role is to make this happen.
Snowfields Academy is looking to appoint creative, talented people who won’t ever give up on a child; staff who think ‘what can I do differently’ and not ‘this pupil needs to change’; teachers and support staff dedicated to seeing holistic progress, not solely focussed on outcomes in their subject, although of course this is important too; staff who are happy coming to work and share that happiness with their students and each other; people who are at a stage in their career where they want to go above and beyond to make a difference to the life of a young person with autism and their family.
We can offer you a committed, inspiring leadership team who will walk alongside you but always step up to lead. We will appoint the very best staff and link arms to create an academy which never fails a student, and goes out of it’s way to deliver the very best in education, care and happiness.
Dee Pickerill, Principal, has worked in special education for all of her teaching career. In addition to being an outstanding class teacher, Dee was the Associate Principal at Milestone Academy with responsibility for teaching and learning, pupil outcomes and safeguarding. Within this role she helped lead the academy through three consecutive Ofsted inspections where the academy was judged as Outstanding.
Dee is a pragmatic leader with a strong moral drive to deliver the very best opportunities and outcomes for all young people with SEN, within and beyond her own setting. Dee has a special interest in functional and vocational learning and her ambition is for Snowfields Academy to lead the way in supporting young people with ASD into employment, be it full time, part time, paid or voluntary, giving the skills and confidence to local employers to enhance their workforce by employing staff with ASD.
James Doddington, Vice Principal, has spent his career teaching at Milestone Academy, in that time teaching students with severe and complex needs across the school, from as young as 6 to as old as 19. Whilst there James consistently demonstrated himself to be an outstanding teacher, and was nominated for Kent Teacher of the year 2018. Whilst at Milestone James developed and initiated a refined personal, social and physical development framework. This allowed the school to demonstrate the outstanding progress the students were and continued to make in these areas, which until that point had been problematic to demonstrate.
More recently James led Milestone Academy’s Key stage 4 & 5 provisions and served as part of the leadership team during Milestone’s most recent Ofsted inspection, for which they successfully obtained their third consecutive Outstanding judgement. James is ambitious and incredibly driven, with a clear moral drive and commitment to do all he can to support young people with Special Educational Needs, and help to reduce the barriers they and their families may face, leading to the highest quality of life and outcomes for all students.