The Observatory School in Bidston has been awarded the prestigious ADHD Friendly School award by the ADHD Foundation for their work with young people with ADHD this academic year.
The Observatory is committed to supporting all children within their school, whatever their particular needs, and is a school that places inclusion at the centre of its ethos and culture.
The school has considered all of the main barriers to learning for children with ADHD and has sought to address them in their everyday practice. This ranges from increasing physical activity across the curriculum to the teaching of self-calming strategies to help students to self-regulate.
Increasing movement and engagement was a key feature of the submission for the award with a whole-school approach to this. All pupils have access to frequent movement breaks throughout the day to give their brains a break and return to their work feeling refreshed and ready to learn.
Students have access to a MUGA, a sensory trim trail, and a climbing rig which they incorporate well into their physical activities.
Accessible morning sports sessions are also made available to the students as they arrive at school, enabling them to start the day off by letting off some steam.
The students at The Observatory have also had their need for movement met within the classroom too, by wobble chairs, fidget resources and wobble boards – all of which allow the children to move and learn at the same time.
The Observatory School has also considered the wellbeing of children with ADHD and provided opportunities for children to learn coping strategies for when they are feeling overwhelmed. Classrooms have ‘Regulation Charts’ which can be used to help students check in with their emotions and put necessary calming strategies in place if needed. Such strategies include deep-breathing exercises, meditation and yoga.
The school has also done an incredible job of celebrating neurodiversity through its displays and assemblies, which showcase and promote the positives of ADHD and other conditions, using successful neurodiverse people as role models for the children.
The school really embraces the range of needs across their pupil population and seeks to embrace the positives of the variety of conditions.
Parents and carers of children with ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions have also been supported well across the school. The school hosts support groups where parents and carers can get support from staff and share advice and support strategies with other parents. These groups focus on a variety of neurodiverse conditions, in addition to ADHD.
Amy Scott, Personal Faculty Lead and Year 8 Social Pathway Teacher from The Observatory said, “We are utterly thrilled to receive this award. At The Observatory School, we recognise that every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and should not see their neurodiversity as a barrier.
“We are proud of the work that both staff and students have put in to obtain this award and are excited to continue this journey”
Arron Hutchinson, the Education Training Director of the ADHD Foundation said, “It has been fantastic to work with The Observatory School. The staff have worked hard to make their lessons and their school environment enjoyable, supportive and safe spaces for their students with ADHD and I’m glad that they are getting the recognition for this that they deserve.”
The ADHD Foundation, based in Liverpool, works in partnership with individuals, families, doctors, teachers and other agencies to improving emotional well-being, educational attainment, behaviour and life chances through better understanding and self-management of ADHD, ASD and related learning difficulties.