Maplefields School – A Journey Towards Wellbeing for All in a Special School (now Academy)


We are a 4-16 years BESD provision in Northamptonshire.  Our journey began in March 2006 when the secondary provision (11-16 years) was in special measures.  It was a period of instability with frequent changes of Head teacher and staff well-being was not part of the daily vocabulary!

Our challenge was to implement the whole school Quality Circle Time model and to raise awareness of and improve staff emotional health and well-being.  The vision was shared with the governors and the senior leadership team and through whole staff training.

Practical changes to the school day were implemented quickly by changes in the timetable and introducing Circle Time, Golden Rules, Golden Time and Zoning The Playground to encourage positive play activities. Golden rules were reflected in colourful displays and as computer screensavers!

By June 2006 we were out of special measure and pupils were feeling safer, behaviour for learning was improving, there was an emphasis on a clear, shared and valued behaviour policy with a system of incentives and sanctions in place.  By September 2006 we heard the news that the secondary and primary provision would become one school meeting the needs of pupils between the ages of 4-16 with BESD.  The two schools are 6.5 miles apart in different towns.  At this time managing the changes for staff (as well as the pupils) was a priority.  By April 2007 we became one school – Maplefields.  We created a well being team across both sites and completed an on-line confidential well-being questionnaire as part of the Northamptonshire Well-being programme.  With a clear vision of staff emotional well-being and areas for improvement we created an action plan.

Using the Quality Circle Time model we have created time for staff to consider the way in which we help to build and sustain staff energy through the school organisation, taking ownership as an individual and how we can look after each other.  Using Jenny Mosley’s training we valued an emphasis on individual ownership by encouraging ‘visiting the wells’ and ‘golden moments’!  This was enhanced by creating ‘Secret Angels’ and encouraging ‘random acts of kindnesses.  A recent staff questionnaire has shown this to be an overwhelming success.  Well-being is at the heart of our school for staff and pupils.  It is encouraged and modelled by the senior leadership team and supported by time and finances.

By September 2007 Maplefields became a lead special school in Northamptonshire for primary and secondary SEAL. We continued to promote SEAL through a whole school approach by using the QCT model and maintaining our focus using the Audit provided by Jenny at the QCT re-accreditation course.

Through a great deal of hard work from an extremely dedicated staff team we have continued to improve teaching and learning opportunities, attendance and behaviour.  A recent SEAL audit (Northamptonshire LASI, July 2009) summarised from pupil interviews that

“Students felt that school makes them think, that the teachers

are nice and they listen to you and help you!”

In a recent parent/carer questionnaire 55% strongly agree and 40% agree that

“Staff encourage my child to become mature and independent”

In December 2009 Maplefields gained “outstanding” from OFSTED and the pupils,parents and staff celebrated their success.

Our journey continues! It began when I attended the five day Train the Trainers  training course with Jenny Mosley.  Since then I have used the QCT model to contribute towards our whole school improvement. It has been important to share the vision, empower the staff and value their hard work and commitment, maintain high expectations, pay attention to detail and celebrate moments of success. We are all very proud of our achievements and improved learning opportunities and outcomes for our pupils.

I continue to work in partnership with other schools, including mainstream secondary schools, offering training and support by sharing the QCT model and keeping it at the heart of SEAL.

I particularly value the opportunity to return to the re-accreditation course for “Train The Trainers” when I am re-energised through the laughter and light from Jenny Mosley and other colleagues who have encouraged and inspired me over the last four years.

Becoming an ‘Outstanding Special School’ is extremely rewarding and gaining the QCT ‘Gold Award’ from Jenny Mosley is something I particularly cherish   A ‘Golden Moment’ for us all!

Karin Marshall

Assistant Head teacher

Standards and Achievement