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Therapeutic Approach

Therapeutic Offer


Cornerstone School provides a range of layered and graduated support and interventions across the school.  These are determined by the needs of the pupil and therefore the therapeutic offer to each pupil will be bespoke according to their social, emotional and mental health needs.


At Cornerstone School we recognise that ‘one size’ does not fit all; there are times when a pupil may need intervention and support that is ‘additional and different’ from the universal offer.


General Approach


This includes ensuring that policies and procedures consider the needs of our profile of student. We have removed many barriers by adapting the language we use and understanding that all behaviour is a form of communication.  We ensure our environment is kept minimal to support students with focusing on their learning. 


Students have their own learning space and are able to adapt this to their needs using wobble cushions, overlays, fidget toys etc. All students have access to their own device in lessons. As well as being able to personalise learning through these resources, they also have subtle accessibility features to enhance learning. Using the same device each day also prevents the need for students to have to worry about passwords, sites etc. 


We also work with a range of other agencies including; Autism Advisory, Educational Psychologist, Bexley SEN Team and the SLAM team at The Maudsley to share our approach working with young people with eating disorders such as ARFID. 


The Universal Offer


Every pupil attending Cornerstone School will be provided with:

  • A place of learning where everyone feels physically and emotionally safe and secure.
  • A nurturing approach and therapeutic milieu across the school.
  • Constant positive regard.
  • Small classes.
  • High adult-pupil ratio.
  • A broad, balanced, aspirational curriculum, including many enrichment opportunities.
  • Personalised learning
  • Highly trained teachers and support staff who understand the emotional aspects of learning and the difficulties our pupils face.
  • Highly trained support staff who will assist all pupils in their personal and academic development.
  • Quality careers information and guidance.
  • Equal access and opportunity for all.
  • A safe, spacious, outdoor play area for break times and PE/sporting activities.
  • Regular access to sport to enable pupils to burn off nervous/pent-up energy as well as improving physical wellbeing including Boxing
  • Daily opportunities to learn and practise social and emotional (regulation) skills, both structured and unstructured.


Learning Support and Interventions

Interventions to enable a pupil to better access the curriculum could include:

  • A visual timetable.
  • Alternative teaching approaches.
  • Learning support materials.
  • 1-1 support.
  • Referrals to other agencies e.g. Speech & Language, CAMHS
  • Further diagnostic assessment e.g. Dyslexia.

If it is felt that the pupil’s barrier to learning is that they are ‘emotionally unavailable to learn’ then we have a range of therapeutic supports and interventions available.  In most cases, there will be a graduated approach to intervention that increases in frequency and/or intensity according to need.

Therapeutic Support – a graduated response


a) The Hive 


The Hive is a quiet, low-stimulus space where pupils who are feeling overwhelmed in the classroom can have a short time away from the classroom to reflect, regulate their emotions and ‘reset’ their brain before returning to the classroom.  It is intended to be a pre-emptive tool to provide staff with the option of giving pupils, whose behaviour has been challenging during the lesson, an opportunity to regulate and reset in a quiet place whilst reducing disruption to the learning of other pupils.  The Hive is supervised by staff who will listen to the pupils, help them to regulate their emotions, provide them with work (if appropriate) and arrange for them to return to class when they are sufficiently ‘reset’.


Pupils’ use of the Hive is recorded; these records are monitored and form part of our evidence when considering which pupils require ‘additional and different’ support. 


b) School Counsellor 


Our School Counsellor is Paula Harrington


Our Counsellor will not give advice or tell young people what to do – instead, they will help pupils to make their own choices to facilitate personal growth and self-awareness, they also help pupils to clarify their difficulties; see patterns in their thinking and/or behaviour and support them in making positive changes in their life.

Pupils are given a safe space in which they can be heard and understood. Sessions are tailored around their individual needs where they have the opportunity to set their own goals for their therapy sessions.


c) Girl Time 


Girl Time is a weekly ‘opt-in’ group for Secondary girls to bond in a safe, therapeutic, single-sex space.  Girl Time was introduced in acknowledgement of the additional challenges faced by teenage girls being a small minority (in number) in a very male-dominated environment.  Activities are planned per session to reflect the interests of the girls in attendance. Female pastoral staff support during this session.


d) Access to school dog


Students may be referred for regular sessions with the school dog, with a main focus, or may access him for one-off sessions in response to an incident or observation. Students are also able to use their reward points to have extra time with the dog.


This suite of supports and interventions is under constant review by the Senior Leadership Team to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the school community over time, and is fit for purpose in terms of being effective in terms of impact.