Meet our new Head at Notton House Academy,
Michelle joined Notton House Academy in January as Deputy Head after a varied teaching and leadership background in the local area, both in mainstream and specialist schools.
She has also led the development of English for all Wiltshire schools. Here she explains a little more about herself and her vision for working in one of the more unique education settings in the UK.
What do you enjoy about working in schools like Notton House Academy?
I am passionate about helping, supporting and developing staff to ensure we meet the needs of some of the area’s most vulnerable young people. Curriculum provision is my passion and expertise, as like to be creative as possible to improve outcomes for young people.
Since I have worked at Notton House Academy, I can see what makes this school so wonderful and how we can continue to further meet the needs for our young people and their families. Every young person has a bespoke timetable that enables each and every one of them to make the right choices, and enjoy their education, whilst achieving relevant outcomes and making progress.
Why is it important that we have residential schools?
Residential schools are vital in providing structure, routine, boundaries, nurture, and wrap around care to the most vulnerable young people. There are more than 6000 young people who access residential provision in a special school. Young people with social and emotional difficulties need additional and specialist support, personalised teaching and care, to work through the challenges they face so that they can be successful, have greater well-being and confidence, and lead independent lives.
What do you think the future looks like for the school?
We are on our journey to becoming more therapeutic so that the pupils have greater sense of self-worth and emotional well-being to be able to conquer their fears. A nurturing model will allow the pupils to successfully access more lessons and become more successful in all that they do.
What will success look like at Notton House Academy?
Success isn’t just about educational outcomes, such as exam results, but of course these are important. Success is about progress in all forms, on a personal level, socially, emotionally, developing independence and self-help skills. Academic outcomes are the cherry on the top for these boys once they have achieved or have made progress towards their EHCP outcomes. Plus, enabling all pupils to access employment, education or training once they leave Notton House Academy is also a true measure of success.
How is being part of a wider academy beneficial to the school?
In regards to being part of Learn@ MAT, there are so many benefits. Sharing best practice, learning from experts in specialist fields, knowing when something isn’t working, but not being judged, collaboration to share workload with policies and practical benefits such as reporting templates and shared resources.
What would you change if you were Secretary of State for Education for the day?
I would introduce free university education for all. I’m very interested in the education system in Finland where children do not attend formal school until they are seven years old. I think that young children benefit from play and developing social skills before following a set curriculum. I would also love to see a play time set for every 45 minutes spent in class.
What do you like to do outside of school?
It is important to me to spend time with my family. I have three children: a 14 year-old boy who is in year 9 who is a keen footballer playing for Chippenham Town, and is a black belt in taekwondo. He also loves swimming and tennis; plus, is a senior scout.
My six year-old son is in year 2. He is a competitive gymnast, and also plays football, does weekly swimming, and trains in taekwondo.
My daughter is only two years old and doesn’t sleep unless she is in my arms. I often go to work for a break!
I love going to the theatre, and I love rock bands! Muse, Nirvana, David Bowie, Linkin Park.