What Others Say About Us

2016/17 Feedback:

Royal Greenwich CWD Keyworker visit –  April 2017

Dawn Annett – Had a fantastic tour of the building by Mark. Really impressed with resources but even more impressed by the children and the relaxed fun activities they were participating in. Well done Dormouse class!

Sue Ginns – What a wonderful place. So good to see young people achieving and having fun. Thank you.

Lisa Titcome -  Had a wonderful afternoon spent with the children and Josh. Very happy and relaxed atmosphere. Also thanks to Mark for the tour and making us all very welcome.

Marion Payne – I agree with all of the above, thanks to all of the staff and young people. The lounge and kitchen were great to watch joint working amongst pupils!

Miriam Leggett – I would like to thank the staff for making us so welcome and thanks to Mark for the tour. What an amazing and inspirational afternoon, Learning is definitely fun and achievable for all!

 

Emma McMahon, Kings Nursing student - March 2017

"I was truly inspired by the way that you and all the teaching assistants care for and educate the children and truly see them as individuals full of potential.  We learn a lot about ‘holistic’ and ‘person centred’ care on the course and it was very inspiring to see the way this is in place in class and across the school"

 

Jo Atkins, Improvement Partner (excerpts from report) – December 2016

"All children make good or outstanding progress at Willow Dene.  School leaders have worked hard to develop their innovative assessment system to track progress via a range of assessment measures.

School leaders can evidence that there are no gaps between groups of learners and the school is highly effective at reducing the impact of multiple barriers to learning that children at Willow Dene face.  Their provision focuses specifically on addressing these.

Progress meetings are a part of a strategic approach to identify and take measure to address issues when any child is at risk of underachieving.

Teaching is highly effective across the school and school leaders can evidence this through their precise and thorough monitoring.

During the learning walk the IP was able to see children fully engaged in their learning in a variety of contexts. Opportunities for independence were evident throughout the school.  All the children demonstrated good attitudes to learning and they were motivated, focused and clearly enjoying what they were doing.

Leaders and Governors have high expectations and aspirations.  Distributed leadership allows leaders at all levels to be accountable, to lead change and to gain leadership experience.   Working collaboratively with therapists and other health professionals at a strategic level ensures innovative provision resulting in high impact outcomes for children.

Use of research and innovation to inform and extend practice drives standards of teaching forward and gives children increased opportunities to develop and make progress.

The SEF continues to be reviewed and updated rigorously.  The school judges itself as continuing to be outstanding in all areas.  The SEF provides a strong argument to support the outstanding judgements."

 

Principal Sarah Roil  from Kowhai Special School – Hastings, New Zealand – September 2016

“Thank you so much to you and your staff for welcoming us into your amazing school. It's a shame we didn't get to meet with the students but we learnt so much and came out buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm. We really appreciate your time and generosity in sharing your assessment practice and how you have made this work for all of your students to celebrate their progress.”

 

2015/16 Feedback:

Andy Burrow – Paralympian – via twitter – July 2016

"…delighted to be returning to @WillowDeneSch - Always love getting my student-guided tour of this amazing school!"

 

University of Chester Student – via twitter - July 2016

"Thanks to @WillowDeneSch for having me, it's been an absolutely unforgettable experience!"

 

Katie from Bamboozle Theatre Company – July 2016

"You have a beautiful school and teachers, it shines through in your students! Look forward to coming back soon."

 

Professor Rosie Raffety – Academy of Innovation – To Co- head teacher Rachel after key note speech at University of West London – May 2016

"On behalf of everyone at the Academy and all the attendees last night, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to you for such an inspiring presentation.  The integrity, originality and rigour of the project absolutely shone through including the compelling vision and values driving all your work at Willow Dene.  The feedback this morning has been tremendous on so many levels - the scale and impact of your project, the level of innovation, the potential for scaling and the transferability of your pedagogic model to mainstream and beyond… just wanted to convey the impact of your presentation on so many people last night and the sterling quality of your project and wider work at Willow Dene.  Beyond inspiration. "

 

Mandy Watson, Improvement Partner (excerpts from report) – May 2016

"Y7 pupils have flourished this year. The document ‘What Learning Looks Like’ for Y7 demonstrates how pupils working at Early Development Stages can access the statutory ares of the KS3 curriculum. The Specialist Interest afternoons and Enterprise Project have been excellent examples of exciting learning for Y7 pupils.

The well embedded, excellent systems and structures for leadership, safeguarding, teaching and learning, monitoring, recording and reporting have been continued and enhanced. Effective succession planning is a particular strength of leadership. The strong and well-structured and developed leadership team continue to provide outstanding leadership and can effectively evidence their impact on outstanding provision and pupil outcomes.

The school’s own innovative, rigorously researched and trialled bespoke assessment system has been of great interest to other special schools across the country who are looking to adopt similar methods. This system corresponds well to the points made on evaluating assessment by the National Lead HMI for Special Educational Needs and Disability. It also meets the criteria for assessment and the key points for schools to consider that she made. The school’s data evidence shows how baseline assessment and teacher assessment is used to modify and inform teaching so that every child is able to achieve the best they can at the end of every year and key stage. 

Rates of progress across the school and for all groups supports the judgement for outstanding teaching.

The school judges itself as continuing outstanding in all areas.  The SEF provides a strong argument to support the outstanding judgments.  Progression and achievement of the SDP priorities is well documented and reported.

Leadership reports to Governors are extremely detailed and thorough, enabling governors to have a really in depth understanding of every area of the school, targets to be achieved and celebration of successes. Governors are well informed to support and challenge leaders and have a strong and positive relationship with them. Governors have achieved the Governor Mark, with comment included of the high quality of governance in place."

 

Una Coyne, Primary PGCE Programme Leader, Goldsmiths University of London – April 2016

"I have just finished speaking with the students who came over yesterday and they are so enthused and ‘blown away’ by everything they saw and experienced yesterday. Thank you SO much."

 

School Direct student teacher - April 2016

"I had such a fantastic time working at Willow Dene, I felt so supported and welcome by all the staff, and of course, the children are absolutely magical to work with; I felt privileged to spent my placement there."

 

Sheena Hamilton, Primary First Trust – April 2016

"Thank you for taking the time to speak to us about the assessment processes you use – it was very helpful as we consider the information we need to collect in our setting."

 

Prospective parent – March 2016

"Having visited many schools, this school has an amazing learning environment and attitude."

 

Lisa Donaldson, Clinical Lead, SeeAbility  - March 2016

"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you on behalf of everyone at SeeAbility for the amazing support you have given with the filming today.  We got lots of great footage which we hope will come together to provide some really valuable resources."

 

Prospective parent – March 2016

"Most amazing school. Friendly and professional, every child matters."

 

Gary Tyrell, Bedelsford School - March 2016

"A big thank you from the three of us, for giving up your time and for going to so much trouble to make sure we were able to see everything that you have achieved at Willow Dene.

You clearly do a fantastic job and the school is absolutely superb. Your pride in the school is evident and justified in everything we saw.

You have given us so many ideas to get our MOVE programme started in the best possible way."

 

Prospective parent – March 2016

"What a wonderful school it is. We’re very delighted to see building, site, classes, children and how teachers treat children. It’s fantastic."

 

Feedback from Improvement Partner visit – January 2016

"The school judges itself as continuing outstanding in all areas and has significant evidence to support this.

The number of pupils has continued to increase to nearly 200 with a huge demand for places as the excellence of the school’s provision becomes widely noted.

Well embedded, excellent systems and structures for leadership, safeguarding, teaching and learning, monitoring, recording and reporting have enabled the pace of change and development to continue effectively and high standards to be maintained.

The leadership team continue to evidence increased skills and capacity to maintain outstanding provision and pupils outcomes. Leaders, including new post holders, have tightly focussed action plans and rigorous self-evaluation monitored through performance management and line manager meetings.

Evidence folders, which are actually excellent information storage documents (including extensive, forensic data collection and analysis), used frequently by staff and governors, are very comprehensive and provide the full picture of the quality of provision, pupil achievement and progress at the school.

The learning environment and practice observed in classrooms by all members of the class teams, illustrates the consistent good and outstanding teaching across the school and the innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Good quality ongoing CPD and Induction linked to the school development plan has enabled staff to develop their knowledge of early child development and non-typical child development."

 

Feedback from training session at Queen Elizabeth Hospital School – December 15

"Thanks again for taking the time to come over and deliver the presentations which were SO helpful ... [We] were absolutely buzzing after you left!"

 

Ex-pupil visiting our new building  – November 15

"Wow! It looks perfect!"

 

Greenwich Chair of Governors Meeting held a Willow Dene - October 2015

Christine Butler - Chair of Governors, Eltham Hill School: "A wonderful school environment – really inspirational."

Bob Love - Chair of Governors, Heronsgate Primary School: "What a fabulous place."

 

Feedback from IP visit - October 2015

"Willow Dene continues to build on its high standards, outstanding practice, provision and pupil achievement.

The new leadership structure is well designed to cover all key areas of school improvement.

The quality of teaching and learning is very strong with much outstanding.

The excellent and high quality environment for learning, a continuing priority, ensures that all learning areas across the school reflect the needs of the pupils and shared spaces are fully utilised for focused teaching and learning.

The forest school, swimming pool and many new innovations in equipment and experiences provided enable all pupils to achieve the best possible outcomes.

The schools assessment system ‘Learning Journeys’, is proving very effective. Data demonstrates pupils are overcoming significant barriers to learning. Rigorous analysis of data, fully triangulated with all aspects of teaching and learning shows all groups of pupils are making good or better progress and a number make outstanding progress. 

All staff members understand the data headlines and how data is used to support SDP priorities and inform planning. Leadership uses data effectively to inform the quality of teaching and provision, whole school strategic planning and CPD closely linked to rigorous performance management.

The expansion to Y7 to begin the secondary phase and the opening of Toucan, the specialist provision admitting two year olds, has been very successful. In Toucan… one mother explained how much her son was now able to do that had not previously seemed possible after only 3 weeks.

Behaviour across the school is excellent and extremely well managed by all staff, with high expectations for all pupils to achieve their best.  Pupils have very enabling relationships with staff and are obviously enjoying their learning…

The school has considerably developed links and opportunities for parents who are greatly appreciative of what is provided for their children as well as the help given to them in enabling them to manage and support their children at home.

The Compass Federation continues to offer a useful supportive network for CPD and exchange of expert practice and knowledge. Governors have particularly been able to use this networking opportunity to add to their strong capacity."

 

Visitor from a local secondary special school to discuss pupil progress – October 15

"Thanks for your time today - I came away buzzing and found our discussion enlivening and inspiring."

 

Visitors from the London Borough of Bexley – September 2015

"What a wonderful school. So inspirational!"

"Well done for all the hard work. Willow Dene is definitely a lovely school [with] lovely children."

 

Multi-disciplinary professionals from Thailand visiting to see specialist learning environments - September 2015

"Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Institute: We think Willow Dene is a very nice and wonderful school. All staffs are very friendly. We see many things look very interesting. We discuss many time after we come back and plan to set up our institute like this school. Thank you very much for your time and showing me the wonderful rooms and environment.

Occupational Therapy Department Faculty of Association Medical Sciences Chiang Mai University: I love your rooms and special environment very much. I like your design and I will design my department like this. Thank you very for everything that you present. I will use this information to teach my students."

 

2014/15 Feedback:

RBG School Improvement Advisor visiting Forest School – July 15

"Thank you for allowing me to visit Willow Dene yesterday.  It was wonderful to see Forest School in action – [Forest School leader] you were brilliant, as were your team! I loved the cauldron and potion!!! The children were fantastic and it was great to hear their steps in progress since starting Forest School.  They coped so well in the heat and I think that the session was perfectly timed."

 

Extracts from School Improvement Partner report - July 2015

"Leadership capacity and succession planning is strong. Leaders are passionate about achieving the very best outcomes for all pupils.  Appraisal is rigorous, with coaching and mentoring well used, to enable teachers and leaders to meet challenging objectives.

All staff in the schools work well together as teams and with governors, pupils and parents, contributing to strong and happy learning communities.

There is consistent high expectation for accelerated pupil progress and high standards for all pupils.

The comprehensive teaching profiles provide good evidence of leaders’ impact on improving teaching and learning with the teaching overall being good or outstanding. School leaders are skilful and accurate in the triangulated judgements of teaching and learning.

Willow Dene continues as a special school centre of excellence as it expands to admit 2year olds and Y7s as well as opening extra classrooms to accommodate increasing numbers of pupils with complex needs. 

Specialist outreach support is very successful and in demand from mainstream schools.

Strong commitment to encouraging and responding to pupil voice enables leaders to gain ongoing evidence for school improvement.  Pupils and parents know they are listened to and their comments and views acted upon.

The learning environments are exceptional and inspiring.  They clearly illustrate the depth and breadth of the innovative curriculum and the quality of the learning taking place. They have considerable impact on learning and in embedding values as well as encouraging exemplary behaviour and attitudes.

Fully involved and effective governors are well informed in all areas of the schools' progress and are highly focused on providing appropriate support and challenge."

 

Visitors to our Opening Celebration – July 2015

"Wonderful school! All the staff are very friendly."

"Congratulations and well done to all involved in achieving such a calm, special environment."

"Well thought out and well designed."

"What a beautiful school. A wonderful feeling throughout."

 

Governors Monitoring Visit, Parental Engagement focus – April 2015

"Overall the parents are very happy with the school, ideas parents raise are listened to.

Parents are pleased with the progress their children have made and feel communication between home and school is very good. They feel the staff understand their children and are positive about them.  Parents are more confident dealing with their children’s needs at home thanks to the training Willow Dene has given them.

Discover me was discussed parent were very happy to have had the opportunity to take part, it has changed the lives of many of our parents and they would recommend it to others. They are more confident as people and as parents. One parent said “It transformed my life” Discover me has also made close bonds between participants and has brought new parents in and they keep coming back."

 

School improvement partner report
Spring 2015

"Willow Dene was reviewed alongside the other schools in the Compass Partnership by our improvement partner in the Spring Term. Excerpts from the report include:

  • Leadership and management of the schools are highly effective and have created a very cohesive learning community across the five sites.
  • The exceptional provision at Willow Dene enables pupils with significant learning needs and disabilities to achieve as much progress as possible in frequently challenging circumstances. 
  • The structures and systems for assessment are highly effective and make a key contribution to evaluating and improving achievement and extending quality provision. 
  • The curriculum at Willow Dene is excellent in meeting the needs of pupils with very different learning needs and disabilities. The outstanding learning environments celebrate pupils' success and impact very effectively on pupils' independent learning [and] high expectation of achievement…
  • Leaders' reports and visits enable Governors to monitor and evaluate the strategic direction and priorities and work of the schools very effectively.  They make a strong contribution to the Federation's continuing excellence and improvement.

Compass [can] confirm itself as an outstanding federation."

 

Councillor Denise Hyland
April 2015

"Councillor Denise Hyland visited with the Mayor and Mayoress of Greenwich on the 23rd April. She tweeted:
Great visit with Mayor to Willowdene School. Impressed not only with our rebuild but with the innovative approach. Superb facilities & great commitment to the pupils with complex needs. School which embraces its community. So proud!"

 

Governors Monitoring Visit, Medical Health & Safety focus – March 2015

"[The governors] have every confidence in the school’s ability to not only manage the children’s varying and complex needs but also to enable these children to safely access school trips, swimming and other educational activities. The level of trust parents have in school staff is evidenced by their willingness to allow their children to participate in these activities e.g. school journey.

Very clear protocols for moving and handling, safe storage and administration of oxygen, feeds and medication and the servicing and maintenance of medical equipment.

There is large and complex medical training plan in place which allows school staff who are confident and willing to learn wide ranging medical competencies.  This, in combination with the fact our nursing team is on site… means that we can have the most complex and vulnerable children in school."

 

Extracts from the school’s Improvement Partner report
November 2014

"Outstanding leaders [across the Compass Partnership] demonstrate continued high expectations for all pupils and model compelling visions for individual schools and the success of the partnership.  [There is] effective succession planning through encouraging and training aspiring leaders within and across the schools.

Willow Dene's outstanding new build is almost complete, with 2 year olds and Y7s due to join the school in the coming year.

Willow Dene is able to demonstrate excellent progress for pupils with significant special learning needs using its own detailed and specific assessment system [and has] thorough and well analysed data, progress and attainment reports.

[Willow Dene] celebrates pupils' achievement, demonstrate and support continuous progress in learning, through highest quality learning environments.

 [The school has] invested in good and outstanding teaching through quality CPD for all staff, bespoke induction and mentoring of NQTs and new staff, rigorous performance management and reference to latest research. [It] looks outward to improve outcomes and provision for other school and pupils

strong EYFS provision [and] excellent relationships and links with parents and carers, outside agencies and community partners.

active and involved governors who support and challenge rigorously [and an] engaging, informative  and compliant website."

 

Governors Monitoring Visit, focused on Mathematics in the Environment
November 2014

"The link between maths and play and the creation of maths-rich environments entices children to play and learn, practice, generalise and apply their maths.

With children at early levels of development staff are able to eloquently and passionately articulate what the children are learning and how these skills are the necessary building blocks for later mathematical learning.

It was reassuring to find such thoughtful and enthusiastic use of the increased space in the new building to develop a maths-rich environment in shared open spaces or corridors in addition to in classrooms.

Going from that discussion on data straight into the learning environment enabled us to see the evidence Willow Dene’s demographic is changing, and that the children are clearly learning and making progress."

2013/14 Feedback:

Comments about pupil progress from parents evening
July 14

  • Looking at my son you would think I am describing a different child.  He is now excited to learn, can make all his basic needs known and understood in conversation, is polite, a pleasure to be with and is independent in self-care.
     
  • We are very delighted and proud of our son’s progress.
     
  • With the help and support of the staff at Willow Dene School, our son has grown into a confident, very chatty and loving young man, we are extremely proud of him and all he has achieved.
     
  • Our son has been talking a lot and can make us understand what he wants.  He can do this in both languages.
     
  • Our daughter has made huge progress especially her head control.  She can hold her head up for longer periods.  Her vision has also improved, she follows more and also by using the switch.
     
  • I love to watch my daughter’s confidence picking up a cup and drinking.  She is so proud of herself when she puts it back down.
     
  • Our son has made good progress in his first year at Willow Dene in areas such as improved eye contact and managing his emotions.
     
  • I am very pleased with my daughter’s progress, especially in her reading skills.  She has also made a massive progress in maths.
     
  • Our son started vocalising more than before, learnt sharing his play toys, letting us take turns.  We are also very happy to see the way he progresses.
     
  • Our son’s progress this year has been amazing, he never ceases to amaze us in the way he exceeds his challenges that are set for him.
     
  • I am really pleased with my daughter’s progress.  She is talking in sentences now and is able to concentrate on her work.  When my family were at the end of our tether, many meetings were called involving the school and various agencies; this helped tremendously as we didn’t feel we were on our own.
     
  • My son loves to go to school every day.  He can understand some verbal communication which he hasn’t before.  He is sitting down to eat most of the time now.
     
  • Our child’s communication has improved greatly; he can let us know a lot of his needs now.
     
  • Our daughter has progressed so much in all areas, her mobility and speech especially.  She gets herself around the living room to find her toys.  She sings songs and responds to certain things that she is asked.  Amazing.
     
  • My son has made a lot of progress in his speech.  He can communicate with a lot of people.  He can also count and write numbers up to 2000, and also write the alphabet.
     
  • My son has shown significant progress in the way he carries himself, his approach to resolving things and his ability to express himself has greatly improved.
     
  • I have a different child now, happy, confident, healthy and warm.  I’m very proud of her and I’m sure that there is more progress to come.
     
  • My daughter has always been a girl who knows what she wants and, somehow, how to get it.  Under the expert and nurturing guidance at Willow Dene she has achieved so much more than anyone thought possible and overcome challenges with trademark determination, resilience and the most amazing good humour and charm.  I am immensely proud of the young woman she has become during her time at Willow Dene.

 

Governors Monitoring Visit, ICT focus
June 2014

The rationale for both the use and purchase of ICT is clear, with class teams having to set out the desired impact on learning and outcomes for children.

Governors saw first-hand the potential for eye gaze technology to “unlock” our children – irrespective of primary need – be that in making choices, communicating, or simply by putting them in control.

This visit highlighted [the use of] iPads for self-directed learning, and iPads as part of joined up working with therapists (OT, VI, SaLT) directly linked to a child’s PLP.

We both saw and read about the importance of sound resources to the children… who use music for audio cuing and also Sensory Processing – alerting or calming children so they are ready to learn. The wireless nature of the technology and the large sound library held by the school means Sonos can be set up to play during complicated hands-on transition times [as well as] to listen to a story in one of the shared spaces and for other aspects of the School Development Plan such as MOVE and Sensory Processing provision.

Willow Dene is indeed the innovative, forward thinking and cutting edge school it describes itself as, with that ethos demonstrated in the classroom, in dialogue with the ICT team and highlighted by the “next steps” read in the accompanying paperwork.

 

Improvement Partner Report
March 2014

  • The learning environment matches the  high standards and inspiration evident in the rest of the school.
     
  • The school will shortly be able to offer provision for pupils to the age of 16 which will provide excellent continuity of the outstanding education on offer in the Primary stages.
     
  • The strong CPD programme enables staff to develop and extend their expertise well.
     
  • Middle leaders are exemplary role models with regard to values, behaviour, the learning environment, teaching, motivation and high expectations .

Ash Trees School
February 2014:

"I just wanted to drop you an email to say thank you so much for making the effort to come to us and deliver such exceptional training that has already massively impacted upon our practice in our classes. The support was clear, concise, inspiring and has facilitated all practitioners to be able to make full use of Footsteps in planning, teaching and assessing our pupils at early stages of development (you’ll notice that I’m not saying PMLD – see what an impact you’ve had already?!). You’ve clearly put so many years of research and hard work into putting together a fantastic programme that has helped give us direction and a clear sense of purpose in what we’re doing and you should be so proud that your work is now impacting on other schools across the country."

Improvement Partner Report
December 2013

  • Willow Dene judge teaching and learning to be outstanding over time.  Learning walks, data analysis of pupil progress and lesson observations indicate that the school is accurate in their self-evaluation. 
     
  • Willow Dene is outstanding in supporting pupils' learning, developing independence, celebrating their success and motivating pupils' enjoyment.
     
  • Leadership structures are clear with precise responsibilities and accountabilities to ensure the specific impact criteria for school priorities are met. The school transformation plan drives ambitious targets for priorities identified by accurate and on-going self-evaluation as well as new initiatives.  
     
  • Governors are fully involved with all aspects of school improvement and self-evaluation.  They have a very good understanding of pupil achievement and the quality of provision through focused monitoring and well planned committees.

 

Visitors from Ash Trees School, County Durham
November 2013

  • Thank you so much for your time and for making me feel so welcome on Friday. It was a really inspirational visit. You should be very proud of the hard work you’ve clearly put into making it such a wonderful school.

 

Visitors from a Wiltshire School
October 2013

  • We would like to thank you and all the staff and pupils who welcomed us at Willow Dene today. We were so impressed by all that you shared with us and have come away with so much to think about and share with staff at [school].
     
  • We had hoped for answers (but knew this was really too simple and straight forward to expect). We have returned instead with lots of questions and food for thought – hopefully it sets us off on a journey that can end with something similar but also designed for [our school].

 

Archived Feedback

2012/13 Feedback

2011/12 Feedback