Mowbray School aims to provide a broad and balanced curriculum that pays particular attention to each pupil’s physical, social, emotional and educational needs. We deliver full access to the National Curriculum programmes of study and methods of assessment as is compatible with, and modified or supplemented, to meet individual pupil needs and abilities.
For the fourth year a group of pupils have entered categories in both the Speech and Music sections of the Wensleydale Tournament. We have always been well received in both categories. We have twice won the President’s Plate which is awarded by the Festival President for the entry she considers to be most outstanding from every performance throughout the whole two weeks. In 2016 it was awarded to the Primary Choir and last year it was awarded to Glenn Griffiths for his entry in the poetry speaking section.
This year was to be no different!
16 pupils from year groups 3 to 11 entered the poetry speaking category. Several of them won their categories. The results were as follows:-
Finlay Hugill – 3rd place Commended – ‘You have a nice colourful voice which filled the room!’
Robert Stephenson – Commended – ‘A very commanding voice, Robert, promising work’
Jack Waikari – 2nd place Commended – ‘ …very much in control of the performance space.!’
Harriet Gilropy – Merit ‘You presented with sensitivity and sincerity’
Caden Ruddy – 1st place Merit – ‘What an engaging performer you are Caden..!’
Jack Baldwin – 1st pace Merit – ‘You are very watchable!’
Charlotte – 2nd place Merit – ‘You had really thought through how to deliver this…’
Dylan Blakemore – Merit – ‘..delivered comically with a deadpan expression..’
Billy Tolhurst – Merit – ‘You used all of your speaking talents to bring the poem to life.’
Ahmad Haseeb – Merit – ‘Your voice has a beautifully rich and engaging tone.’
Lucy Jones – 1st place Merit – ‘You stood with poise, Lucy’
Alyssa Taylor – Merit – ‘Promising work!’
Madeleine Grainger – Merit –‘ You have a strong voice and performance energy.’
Bethany – 1st place Commended – ‘A strong performer, Bethany’
Nadia Walsh – Merit – ‘You presented with maturity and intelligence’
The comments from the adjudicator about the choir performances were brilliant. And, again we had a standing ovation, and quite a few tears..!
Primary Ensemble – ‘Opportunity’
‘ A lovely tuneful opening with the 2 boy’s voices exactly together making a beautiful sound and singing wholeheartedly……very musical and atmospheric, Well Done!’
ORGANISATIONS from Masons Yorkshire Gin to a town council and a beauty salon are embracing a project to learn Makaton sign language – to ensure they can provide a warm welcome to people with communication difficulties.
Staff from more than 40 businesses in Bedale hope to become the UK’s second Makaton Friendly town this year. They are working towards achieving the status ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire arriving in May. By doing so, they hope visitors with speech or language impairments will feel fully included in the celebrations when the town hosts the finish point for the men and women’s races on Friday, May 3.
The communication method is based on British Sign Language and involves using signs and symbols with speech to help adults and children with learning or speech difficulties to communicate. Towns can earn Makaton Friendly status with the Makaton charity if enough organisations make their services accessible to people using the form of sign language.
Businesses and organisations have so far supported the campaign by taking part in signing workshops which have been held at Bedale’s police station, fire station, the Town Hall, St Gregory’s Church, the Big Sheep Little Cow farm attraction, Chantry Hall and the Old Black Swan pub.
Karen Pickles, Deputy Head of Mowbray School is a regional Makaton Tutor who has led many of the workshops. She said: “The way people in the town have embraced this is fantastic. About 40 organisations have so far taken part in the initiative, which is way beyond our expectations. We’ve been taken aback by people’s enthusiasm.
“They’ve also come from a wide range of different organisations; we’ve had vets, building society staff, representatives from pre-school groups and shop staff.”
Organisations taking part include; Masons Yorkshire Gin, Bedale Library, Big Sheep Little Cow, Bedale Community Bakery, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the Dales Care Centre, Bedale Church of England Primary School, Bedale and District Methodist Church, St Gregory’s CE Church, Bedale Pet Shop, Glebe House Surgery, Bedale Beauty Salon, Headquarters Hair salon, BrandBedale members and Bedale Town Council.
The 90 minute introductory sessions teach frequently used words and phrases, such as “are you ok?” or “would you like a drink?” as well as vocabulary which is particular to participants’ line of work or business. So far this has included teaching a pet food store the different signs for animals and pet food and words an estate agent might be asked.
“The Tour de Yorkshire brings all our communities together to leave a lasting legacy on many fronts”, said County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader. “Initiatives like this which embrace the inclusive spirit of the event are great for local residents, businesses and future generations. As well as a world-class race which helps to raise the profile of our beautiful county with all the economic and cultural benefits that brings, the TdY is also about celebrating who we are and what we can do for each other.”
The training also means children from Mowbray special school who use Makaton will be able to communicate more effectively with people locally and use shops and services in Bedale more independently.
Karen added: “It’s fabulous when our pupils who use Makaton to support their communication skills, go into Bedale and visit a café or a shop and people can sign in order to communicate.
“On a recent visit to Bedale, a group from Mowbray School who use Makaton sign language were greeted by a lady who came out of the hairdresser to sign “good morning” and asked if we signed. On another occasion a member of staff from Mowbray School who uses Makaton with her students was in the pet shop and signed to ask for dog food and the member of staff was able to sign back.
“It’s good fun to learn and it’s wonderful for our Makaton users to enjoy a different experience in Bedale because people are speaking their language.”
Brand Bedale business group have also been heavily involved in promoting Bedale as a Makaton-friendly town. Donna Stothard, owner of Bedale Beauty and chair of the group said: “What a great connection between pupils and staff from Mowbray and local businesses, who have grasped this idea to become an inclusive town.
“Within days of posting these training dates on Brand Bedale’s Facebook page we had more than 10,000 views. Karen Pickles was amazing at presenting the 90 minute sessions. She made it fun and memorable, so we all left feeling confident at using our new skill.”
Councillors and staff with Bedale Town Council have all taken part in the training.
Town council’s clerk, Nick Reed, said they were planning to develop a Makaton guide for organisations in the town containing phrases which can be used during the Tour de Yorkshire.
“When the Tour de Yorkshire arrives, many – if not most – retail outlets and community organisations will be able to communicate about 30 basic signs, along with our stewards in the town,” he said.
“Just being able to say “hello” or “thank you” makes a huge difference to children and adults with communication difficulties. I don’t think we had envisaged the absolute enthusiasm with which the whole town has taken this up.”
A SPECIAL school has been presented with a special award for the care and attention it gives pupils, staff and parents.
Mowbray School in Bedale has been given the prestigious Optimus Well-Being Award after being singled out for its collaborative, child focused and open approach.
It’s presented through the National Children’s Bureau and focusses on effective practice in promoting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of pupils staff and parents.
The award states: “The Ethos of the school is one which binds people together and can be seen demonstrated across all areas. In terms of promoting and protecting emotional wellbeing and good mental health the intervention options, the systematic use of assessment and the constant upgrading of staff skills is a powerful example of good practice.
“Staff are clearly strong advocates of the school and again there is an open and forward looking approach to their wellbeing.
“Touring the school as well as from conversations a major and consistent factor is the school’s approach to the needs of students. There are many and multiple examples of the belief in what can be possible for students, the importance in placing their needs at the centre of decisions and the willingness to be innovative for constant improvement.
“The heavy investment in Emotional First Aid combined with the use of animals on the School Farm to widen the curriculum and promote emotional wellbeing and resilience, are a sign of how forward thinking and committed all at this school are.”
Mowbray has 215 pupils from all over the northern part of North Yorkshire, who have a range of learning difficulties. The school has also just received another major boost after being recognised as an Emotional Coaching School and an Attachment Aware School in recognition of staff training and practice.
Deputy Head Karen Pickles said: “The staff at Mowbray School work very hard to support pupils, parents and each other, and it is fabulous that their efforts have been recognised and endorsed by external agencies, both local and national.
“The ‘Change Team’consisting of parents, School Council members and staff worked with enthusiasm and determination to ensure that the standards required in order to achieve the Awards we have been presented with were met at the very highest level.”
Education for all. A straightforward ambition for all of our children that we would probably all sign up to. But it is an ambition with quite a number of challenges as I have been finding out over recent weeks myself. We have in this council, as in many councils, some real financial challenges in the area of Special Educational Needs. Escalating demand and increasing cost of provision against a backdrop of insufficient government funding to deal with the issue.
Any way, I took the opportunity to have half a day out with Nikki Joyce, who is our Head of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability Service. We first went to Mowbray School in Bedale. The school provides education to over 200 young people with a range of special needs relating to physical and mental disability and behavioural problems. We had a great conversation with the Head, Jonathan Tearle, we talked through the issues and challenges of working in this area but also how he and his team work to ensure that every child at their school maximises their potential and achieves the goals that they can. A special school of the scale of Mowbray is unusual in North Yorkshire and it was interesting to see that it enables an extremely rich curriculum for its pupils, great classroom facilities and brilliant outside space – both in terms of sports, but also with the added interest of a small farm with a wide range of animals. This includes 150 hens with quite a thriving market in the sale of eggs! Here are some pictures of Mowbray School, including the hens!
PRS – Northallerton
We next visited the pupil referral service in Northallerton, which provides schooling for young people who cannot access mainstream schools because they have been excluded or because of severe medical conditions. The Northallerton unit is a relatively small facility but vital in providing a last chance educational opportunity for some young people with really challenging behaviour. I had a great conversation with the Head, Helen Whitehead, who is committed to the young people in her care and also to working with schools to prevent pupils with challenging behaviour from being excluded from the school in the first place.
What was worrying about both establishments that I visited was that they were full and under some pressure from the growing need that existed. Part of the focus for my conversations during the day was how can the system collectively work better together so that we retain more young people in mainstream education and reserve our specialist provision for those who absolutely require it. At times of stress it’s often understandable to focus on what is immediately in front of us, and of course that’s important. But I would argue it’s equally important to look at those around us, who we affect by our behaviour and actions, and to make sure that it is the broader system that we collectively have regard to.
Health and Adult Services Awards
Last week was one of the highlights of the year with our Awards for health and adult services. As ever it was great to see so much excellent practice highlighted. You can read the press release for more information.
World Cycling Championships
Finally, the World Cycling Championships took place in Innsbruck last week. This marked ‘one year to go’ until the very same world championships take place in Harrogate (next year). It was an opportunity for us to tell the world about what a brilliant event it will be! We will inspire everyone with what North Yorkshire has to offer; provide the most inclusive championships involving para-cycling for the very first time and be innovative with the first mixed men and women’s racing taking place.
Information from hotels in Harrogate is that they are already booking up. So there is loads of interest, we now just have a year to deliver it!