• 01388 811178
  • themeadows@durhamlearning.net
  • Spennymoor, County Durham, DL16 7QW



Enriching Our Students Learning Experience

Vision and Ethos of The Meadows Special School


All members of the school community of The Meadows have a right to:

be valued;
an environment in which to develop trusting relationships;
be able to develop as a unique individual;
develop the skills to manage themselves, their emotions and the direction of their own life;
receive support for their own personal journey;
receive nurture and care;

Adults also have the responsibility to ensure that these values are offered unconditionally to all young people and they are accountable for providing this.


The school ethos, life and curriculum have been built upon the following three principles:

A Sense of Belonging;
Progress for all;
Additional and Different.

A Sense of Belonging: this includes

the development of relationships;
a place to belong;
the school which is not only a house but a home;

Progress for All includes:

personal development;
social competence;
meeting the individual’s holistic needs;
achieving the basic grounding for making choices about the future;

Additional and Different: includes

Additional input in learning and social situations;
A therapeutic environment and specific services;
Extracurricular experiences such as day and residential trips;
Family groups through vertical tutor groups;


This is a school where all pupils have a Education Health and Care plan (EHCP). They all began their education in mainstream and have failed within mainstream opportunities. 

The purpose for a special school such as this, is that pupils should make measurable progress in academic and life skills but even more that they will be able to overcome their emotional insecurity and social volatility so that when they leave us at 16, they will be able to create for themselves a positive future of their own choice. This is despite the challenging personal circumstances which the young people continue to experience at home while they attend school. We provide an ethos and curriculum which meets these specific needs and do not attempt to replicate the curriculum which has failed them in the past.

This school therefore takes a very different approach to the education and development of these pupils. Our curriculum is designed to meet their complex needs by engaging them equally in academic learning, support for their emotional and social needs and the development of vocational and life skills. The Meadows offers a therapeutic environment with specific therapies available as appropriate.

The priority here is to address the holistic needs of each individual pupil so that they become adjusted and successful young people when they leave the school. Our teaching focuses on providing intensive support for students as individuals, recognising their individual strengths and weaknesses. We offer a range of qualifications that gives every one of them the opportunity to attain. One-to-one support is provided as appropriate and is always flexible. We provide ongoing support for their emotional and social needs within and through a structured learning environment.

Each pupil receives regular individual assessment to ensure that their experience here meets the balance of their emotional, social and behavioural needs alongside their educational needs. We believe that without the focus on their barriers to learning, they will be unable to take advantage of the educational offer. The curriculum is therefore designed as an aggregation of individual pupils’ needs, rather than a fixed curriculum delivered to all pupils. This is provided within a caring environment which also offers fun for our young people and a range of stimulating experiences beyond the classroom.


The Meadows School
County Durham
DL16 7QW

Email: themeadows@durhamlearning.net
Phone: 01388 811178

SENCO - Sarah Straughan 

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