Thursday, 13 February 2014

And the name of the Hearts & Minds school is going to be...


If that leaves you with a few unanswered questions, here is why:

In 2006 William Stillman, an award winning author and adult with Asperger syndrome wrote:

‘being autistic…‘It is like being a fish out of water.’ 

A Mudskipper is a completely amphibious fish that can use their pectoral fins to walk on land. Mudskippers are quite active when out of water, feeding and interacting with one another but when compared with their fully aquatic peers, these fish present a range of peculiar behavioural and physiological adaptations to an amphibious lifestyle. 

Einstein once said:

‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’ 

So a Mudskipper is a fish, which can live out of the water, and indeed climb trees. 

Many people appreciate the beauty of fish and are happy to enjoy them swimming in the water but in a world, which was made for mammals, breathing air and reproducing smaller versions then a fish has got to adapt, and so we have a Mudskipper, a fish which is happiest swimming with others like him with somehow the understanding that he must if he is to succeed be able to walk on the land. 

Our school will be based on the philosophy that we acknowledge and celebrate the difference of our pupils, we do not see them as being disabled in any way but rather, differently able.  However, we know that to be successful they need to at least understand how to conform and socially interact and achieve in what is perceived to be a ‘normal’ world if they are to survive and achieve all that they can.

Getting the school open

To open a Free School Hearts and Minds needs as many parents as possible to declare an interest in sending their child to the school, so please - if you haven't already - fill in the parental support petition and return it to or  Hearts & Minds Challenge
, 6 Dunollie Road, 
, Manchester 
M33 2PD.

You can access the petition here too:

Aims of the school 

Our primary aim will be to support our pupils to return to mainstream school either at or before transition at Year Six. Our curriculum will be designed and delivered in such a way so as to support inclusion in its broadest sense in order to reflect adequately the rapidly changing, increasingly diverse nature of the society we live in.  This will include having shared placements with other Local Authority/Academy status Primary Schools and why our school refers to full time equivalent places as opposed to a fixed permanent full time capacity.  Our target is always to return as many of our pupils back into mainstream education either on or before transition at the end of Year 6.

At Mudskippers our very own Mudskipper ‘ALBERT’ will help all pupils to achieve whilst embedding a code of conduct that all stakeholders operate by.  He is central to our curriculum, supporting our work in relation to pupil's social and emotional development, help teach better ways through being the focus of social stories and form the basis of our rewards and sanctions procedures, the later which will be based on mediation and restitution.

Access and Achieve

Mudskippers will promote high achievement for all, and an enjoyment in learning for life so that, through the following core values, our pupils will:

  • Be happy, confident learners who have enquiring minds and a spirit of curiosity.
  • Be highly motivated and become lifelong learners returning to mainstream schools on or before transition at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • Be flexible and adaptable.
  • Have high self-esteem and confidence respecting themselves, others and the environment. They will develop a sense of belonging and value within their community.
  • Respect religious views, moral values, other ethnic backgrounds and ways of life, celebrating our differences.
  • Have the knowledge and skills to extend themselves in mind, body and spirit.
  • Work independently and collaboratively, having an understanding of themselves as learners.
  • Have high achievement in all areas of the Foundation Stage and National Curriculum including developing the skills for life in the 21st Century.
  • Develop the skills for a healthy, safe and economically sound lifestyle.

We believe each pupil will succeed through experiencing quality in: 
- A broad, balanced and challenging curriculum with consistency of approach. 
- An ethos of support, challenge and encouragement to succeed. 
- A happy and welcoming environment, conducive to learning, with the flexibility of being both stimulating and distraction free taking account of the diverse needs of all pupils. 
- Caring and targeted to support their transition to the next stage of their learning. 
- Effective assessment of individual needs leading to effective teaching and learning strategies to ensure personalised learning. 
- Innovation teaching based on current best practice for pupils with special educational needs. 
- A highly trained, experienced and motivated staff team; effective teamwork involving the multi-disciplinary team. 
- Inspirational leadership and effective management at all levels. 
- A varied and up to date range of learning resources. 
- Effective transition into school, through school and on to each pupils’ next educational provision. 
- Effective learning partnerships between school, home, receiving schools and the community. 

We will demonstrate our commitment to working as a thinking school in a learning community by: 
 - Ensuring that teaching and learning is part of an evaluative process. 
 - Striving for continuous improvement in all that we do. 
- Working collaboratively towards common goals. 
- Leading and managing through open and effective communication. 

We will also: 
- Establish and maintain effective links with other educational establishments offering expertise, information and support for colleagues in areas of our specialism. 
- Work on a consultancy basis with other agencies to share expertise and provide outreach support. 

As a ‘Free School’ we can take advantage of academy freedoms and we perceive these to include the following: - 

• More freedom and autonomy to drive school improvement. 
• Opportunity to expand our mix of partnership arrangements to achieve economies of scale when sharing resources or joint purchasing. 
• Potential to share best practice, staff and leadership development opportunities across a group of schools. 
• Additional controls and oversight leading to greater ownership of our own school. 
• A broader range of opportunities and benefits for pupils and staff. 
• Governance arrangements retained and also fit for the future, utilising the best mix of skills, knowledge and experience. 
• The development if a shared strategic leadership across a group of schools enabling greater support and challenge, which the Local Authority is less able to provide. 
• Increased flexibility and operational efficiencies leading to less duplication of effort. 
• Increased value for money & buying power with potentially greater economies of scale than a Local Authority maintained school and the opportunity to buy bespoke services. 

The philosophy underpinning our school curriculum is underpinned by our core values. The curriculum is the means by which the school will achieve its objective of educating children in the knowledge, skills and understanding that they need in order to lead fulfilling lives.


More about the charity here: Hearts & Minds Challenge 

Social media here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Pinterest: Hearts and Minds
Google+: Hearts and Minds

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