Hill Croft School welcomes pupils aged 3-19 who face severe barriers to learning. We provide educational opportunity at Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Post 16 phases.
Through working closely with parents and our partners in other agencies a multi-disciplinary approach is taken to meeting the individual needs of all of our pupils.
Our school aims are:
• To provide a curriculum which is broad, balanced and relevant to the needs of each child;
• To provide a rich and stimulating environment which will encourage children to explore and investigate – to make learning fun;
• To devise Individual Education Plans (IEP) for each pupil which will meet his/her needs and maximise each child's potential;
• To provide opportunities for pupils to experience success in a variety of contexts;
• To recognise and praise progress, success and hard work and the effort of all students;
• To prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life;
• To help all pupils to communicate more effectively using a variety of methods – signing/symbols in a variety of situations;
• To nurture positive links between home and school and encourage parent involvement in all aspects of school life;
• To develop personal qualities such as; self-confidence, independence, resourcefulness and self-discipline and to develop the whole child – socially, intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The Enrolment Process
Pupils are enrolled in Hill Croft on the advice of the Special Education Department – North Eastern and Belfast Education and Library Boards. All children who attend Hill Croft have a statement of Special Educational Needs. We are aware that for many families, school placement can be a difficult and confusing process. We aim to support and advise families by keeping the process as straightforward as possible, working at a suitable pace for each child.
- Whilst considering a school placement for their child, families can arrange to visit the school and meet with the Principal. They will have an opportunity to view our facilities and ask any questions that they have with regard to provision and placement.
- Following assessment, or reassessment, NEELB consult with the school in relation to the suitability of the placement. If Hill Croft School is identified as the appropriate and preferred school for the child it will be named in the child's statement.
- An enrolment meeting will be arranged. This will be conducted by the principal along with the class teacher and gives an opportunity to discuss the child's needs and any additional requirements. The teacher will take the parents/carers to view the classroom and discuss any practical details for the year ahead.
- Parents/Carers and the child will then come to the school to see the classroom, meet the teacher and class team and perhaps some of the pupils who will be in their class. They will be presented with a pupil pack to take away which will help them to prepare for starting in Hill Croft.
[blockquote class="default"]Hill Croft School was formerly known as Newtownabbey Special Care School and was established in 1966. It became known as Hill Croft School in 1982 and five years later became the responsibility of the Department of Education. The school moved to its present location in 2006.[/blockquote]
We have excellent resources in our purpose built school which was designed with our pupils' needs in mind. It has 15 classrooms, a large school hall, a library, designated rooms for; Art, Music, Home Economics, Post 16 Leisure, and a dining area. In addition we have a multi-sensory room, soft play area and a junior library. Various therapists are based in school and the children benefit from receiving their therapy in designated areas. A Parent room is used for various meetings and groups including our monthly Toy Library. Each class has been equipped with facilities and resources appropriate to the needs of the pupils. These range from toileting, bathing and changing facilities to plasma screens and ICT equipment. The school has extensive grounds with a wide variety of play equipment for the pupils to enjoy. We also encourage our grounds to be used for outdoor learning and many classes enjoy gardening. Our senior pupils complete Horticulture accreditations and make use of our polytunnel.
[blockquote class="default"]Hill Croft School has a welcoming and nurturing ethos. The health, safety and well-being of all of our pupils and staff is paramount. We ensure that our policies and practices are designed with this in mind.[/blockquote]
Each class team establishes close and caring relationships with the pupils, cultivating a positive atmosphere which praise and rewards all pupils for their efforts. This culture of praise is evident throughout the school; achievements are celebrated through Assemblies and class visits. We aim to instil independence, self-discipline, responsibility and confidence in all our pupils as they progress throughout the school.
It is the role of all school staff to be alert to concerns over pupil welfare. Due to the vulnerability of our pupils their welfare and protection are overseen by the Designated and Deputy Designated Teachers for Child Protection.
Many of our pupils have complex medical needs. We work closely with families and Health professionals to ensure that medication and procedures are followed safely.
The school currently has an enrolment of 112, with capacity for 116 pupils. Our experienced and enthusiastic staff put the pupils at the heart of all that they do. Currently the staffing compliment is as follows; a Principal, 16 teachers (8 full-time, 8 job-share), including the Vice-Principal and Heads of Junior and Senior Departments, 30 classroom assistants, full and part-time, plus those working on a 1-1 basis with individual children, a full-time clerical officer, a building supervisor and 6 cleaners.
The staff work closely with our therapists and other agencies to provide a holistic approach for pupils in meeting individual needs.
The Northern Health Trust provides; Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy for pupils on site. Children from the local community also come to school to avail of these services.
In addition, the Music Trust provides Music Therapy for primary pupils, Barnardos provide Counselling services to senior pupils and classes can avail of Complementary therapies such as Reflexology and Aromatherapy.
As with all schools in Northern Ireland, Hill Croft School adheres to the Northern Ireland Curriculum (2007). All pupils from age 3-19 have a broad and relevant curriculum which is adapted to meet their individual needs. Our curriculum is delivered with a focus on active learning which promotes skills and connects subjects together preparing young people for life after school.
In Reception and early junior school, pupils experience a wide range of play opportunities which develop their sensory, communication, social and physical skills. Learning is very "hands on" and is taught through a topic-based approach. As pupils move throughout the junior school they build on their early Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and thinking skills whilst applying them in different contexts through active learning and class topics.
In Senior school our focus remains on the development of a skills. We aim to prepare our young people for life and work and our curriculum reflects the development of these important life skills. Early Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and Thinking skills link into practical and relevant modules of work.
Our post 16 pupils focus on our, non-statutory, Skills for Life programme. This allows them to practice their skills, use their knowledge and access resources in the local community along with having their work accredited through ASDAN and OCN.
Our pupils with the most complex needs use 'Quest' to awaken, develop and refine their senses, promote motor skills and early communication and interaction with others.
Throughout school there is an emphasis on a multi-sensory approach and learning through activity. This is a very practical approach to learning which focuses on each child's own preferred learning style. The pupils have opportunities to take trips to places within their local community where they can experience learning first hand and practice their skills. Further information about the Northern Ireland Curriculum can be found at: www.nicurriculum.org.uk
During each child's first 6-8 weeks in the school pupils undergo a period of assessment. A stage 5 plan is prepared by the class teacher which outlines the pupils'; strengths, needs, objectives and short term targets. We are regularly assessing each pupil both formally and informally to ensure that targets are appropriate and that each child's individual needs are being met.
The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) and Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) provide free home/school travel. Once a child joins our school, the respective Transport Departments will discuss this with families and inform the school.
All buses and taxis are supervised by an escort. These escorts and drivers ensure the pupils' safety and wellbeing on the journey to and from school and work closely with families and the school.
Extra Curricular Activities
We offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities to our pupils. These are carefully chosen to meet the needs and interests of our pupils. They include: Pony-Riding, Swimming, Visits to the Donkey Sanctuary, Bowling, Choir and Football.
As an Extended School we also offer a range of after-school activities such as; archery, art and music.
Senior pupils also have the opportunity to go on a Residential Trip to Woodhall in Kilrea.
As an Eco-School we won our flag for reducing, recycling and reusing around the school.