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Calman Colaiste College

Calman Colaiste College

Calman Colaiste College is an independent specialist college providing further education for young adults with autism, learning disabilities and complex needs, including behaviours of concern. It offers a range of bespoke programmes for learners at our college based in Thorney, near Peterborough.


The majority of learners currently enrolled on the Calman Colaiste programme reside at one of Kisimul Group’s registered adult homes or supported living homes, although day placements are considered, subject to compatibility assessments.

“Students take part in a wide range of enrichment and social-enterprise activities. As a result, they improve their health, well-being and confidence.”  Calman Colaiste Ofsted Report March 2019

Our approach

The aim of Calman Colaiste’s Learning for Life programme is to offer a broad, balanced and structured programme of vocational learning opportunities to young adults.

We aim to help our learners to continue to develop core functional learning skills, as well as vocational and life skills. The programme is designed to enable learners to foster greater independence and generalise their learning.

Calman Colaiste is nondenominational. We try to encourage learners to develop an awareness of, and interest in, themselves and others in the world around them.


The curriculum provides learners with the opportunity to develop skills for adulthood through a range of enterprise, vocational and work-related learning experiences. Learners are supported to develop their independence skills through a holistic programme of health, therapy and care. Accreditation is gained through various awards schemes, which are personalised for the learners.

Functional learning skills related to literacy and numeracy are at the core of the curriculum, which is taught primarily through enterprise and vocational work-related learning experiences.


The college benefits from catering facilities with a cafeteria, and a main college hub with four learning bases for IT, creative arts, functional skills and vocational learning. In the grounds, we have an animal husbandry provision, horticulture area, and extensive grounds to explore. The college also supports some off site and satellite provision through outreach and community-based input.

Staff & Therapeutic Services

There is a high ratio of staffing support in place, with a team of tutors, learning support assistants, animal husbandry assistants and therapy assistants in place to support the development of our young adults.

Kisimul Group has a comprehensive training package that ensures all staff have appropriate training in understanding the needs of our learners. This includes our BILD-accredited approaches to dealing with behaviours of concern. This is enhanced by a persistent self-evaluation of needs and outcomes for young people which is reflected in the evolving training delivery.

Calman Colaiste has the added benefit of being able to draw on Kisimul Group’s extensive network of therapy provision. The college offers personalised therapy provision including psychology, SALT, OT, aromatherapy and music therapy, which are integrated into learners’ individual programmes of study. See more information on our Therapeutic Services here.


Safeguarding and young adult protection is everyone’s responsibility. The school aims to ensure that:

* Appropriate action is taken in a timely manner to safeguard and promote young people’s welfare

* All staff are aware of their statutory responsibilities with respect to safeguarding

* Staff are properly training in recognising and reporting safeguarding issues

Some young adults have an increased risk of abuse, and additional barriers can exist for them with respect to recognising or disclosing it. We are committed to anti-discriminatory practice and recognise young people’s diverse circumstances. We ensure that all young people have the same protection, regardless of any barriers they may face.

Our policy and procedures also apply to extended college and off-site activities.


The overall quality of our education has been determined by Ofsted as “Good” (March 2019).

You can read/download the full report here

Term dates

The college operates a conventional 38 week term time offer. Typically, learners access a three day per week offer, based on their individual programmes and accredited learning timetables.

Term Dates from September 2022-July 2023

Autumn Term

School Opens: Tuesday 6 September 2022
School Closes: Friday 21 October 2022
School Opens: Monday 31 October 2022
School Closes: Friday 16 December 2022

Spring Term

School Opens: Wednesday 4 January 2023
School Closes: Friday 10 February 2023
School Opens Monday 20 February 2023
School Closes: Friday 31 March 2023

Summer Term

School Opens: Tuesday 18 April 2023
School Closes: Friday 26 May 2023
School Opens: Monday 5 June 2023
School Closes: Friday 21 July 2023


What is the profile of learners in our schools and college?

Our schools and college make provision for learners with learning disabilities and associated behaviours of concern. A significant majority have autism, and typically will have complex sensory modulation and communication difficulties. Our schools and college have a significantly high staff to student ratio, reflective of the needs of the young people, and based on risk assessments of individual needs and presentation.

The majority of the children and young people attending live within our children’s or young adult homes, but there are also day placements available in the schools and college.

Our schools age ranges are eight to 19. The college provides for learners from 16 to 25.

Parents / professionals can contact the schools on
01522 868279 (Lincs),
0208 3352570 (Surrey),
01733 271326 (Calman Colaiste College)


What are the aims of the schools and college?

We aim to:

  • Ensure that the care and education provided each day is consistent and is offered by an appropriately trained, fully integrated multidisciplinary staff team.
  • Provide a safe, secure and structured environment in which learners can gain confidence and achieve their potential.
  • Help young people to learn ways in which to manage and control their own behaviour.
  • Work with young people to help them to develop their own self-help skills, leading to a greater level of independence and improved self-esteem.
  • Provide opportunities for our learners to learn socialisation skills within the schools, college and in the local community.
  • Provide regular detailed reports of our learners’ progress and work together with parents and professionals to plan post-Kisimul School placements.
  • Work together with placing authorities and families to ensure that there is effective communication focused on the best interests of the young people

What facilities will you find in our schools and college environments?

The environment in the schools reflect the needs of our learning cohorts. All sites have modern, purpose-built classrooms with interactive whiteboards and a high standard of accommodation.

Both our Lincolnshire and Surrey school sites accommodate a gymnasium and a heated swimming pool to enable both a physical and sensory oriented session for individual learners. Each school has is a fully equipped OT room, with sensory integration circuits and swings, and therapy teams are located on site to enable direct work with students as part of the weekly curriculum.

Our Lincolnshire School and college in Thorney, Peterborough, benefit from an animal husbandry provision, which is an integral part of the vocational curriculum. We also have teaching kitchens in all settings for promotion of independence and life skills.

Our schools and college also contain immersive sensory rooms and extensive outside areas and grounds to utilise. These outdoor spaces include swings and trampoline areas for leisure and relaxation and use within sensory diets for young people.

All education sites have access to a fleet of minibuses, which enables regular access to the local community to support contextual learning. This also enables young people to access additional curriculum items such as horse-riding, swimming, sailing and indoor wall climbing.

How are children and young people placed at the schools and college?

Placements at the schools are brokered by local authorities seeking specialist placement for learners with profiles of complex needs, behaviours of concern and learning disabilities. All students at our schools need to have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place, outlining their specific needs and the provision determined to meet those needs. Parents are advised to speak to their local SEN department, or current school placement, if they wish to enact provision of an EHCP for their child. Parents/carers or professionals wishing to pursue a placement with Kisimul are actively encouraged to visit the schools at which they are seeking to place their child/young person.

Visits can be arranged by contacting us on 01522 868279 and asking to speak to the referrals team. We do welcome enquiries directly from parents. However, we would encourage you to contact the SEN department within your local authority to advise that you wish to pursue a placement at the school. If there is active social care agency support in place for families, it is also advisable to contact those professionals and discuss intentions in the first instance.

If Kisimul is asked to consider a young person or adult learner for admission, we will need to formally assess the young person. This is achieved through liaison with parents and professionals and visits to the current placement by senior education, residential and therapeutic staff. Following this there will be provision of a detailed assessment report outlining identified needs and how we would propose to meet them in our settings. There is no charge for this process.

A variety of placement types are available, ranging from, but not exclusively, 52-week full time, or 38-week term time residential placements to include the educational provision, or day placements focussing solely on an educational placement.

If a parent wishes to challenge a local authority’s decision not to support a placement at the schools, they may wish to seek legal advice or request advice through agencies such as IPSEA to identify ways forward in appealing decisions. The SEN Code of Practice further outlines appeal processes.

What is the curriculum on offer at Kisimul Schools?

Our schools have their own curriculum offers, and a revised curriculum offer will be in place in the Lincolnshire and Surrey schools from September 2020. This is focused on five key strands of learning.

Communication language and literacy
Creative learning
Life skills
Physical and mental well being
Cultural and community learning

This is supplemented by discrete functional skills learning in literacy and numeracy, and accredited learning pathways for older learners.

The college curriculum focuses on vocational learning and accredited pathways linked to functional learning skills, such as animal care, work enterprise and catering.

At all sites, the therapeutic provision is integrated into the curriculum and forms part of the core weekly provision for each learner, and reflective of their EHCP outline.

We also have an active physical input, including horse-riding, trampolining, sailing and swimming, as well as Duke of Edinburgh input and expeditions.

What additional therapeutic services are available within Kisimul?

Kisimul has a number of multi-disciplinary services accessible to all learners.

Educational Psychology – The psychology teams support across all sites, providing comprehensive behavioural analysis using evidence-based intervention and assessment, and assessment of cognitive and developmental progress. The team also provides training and support to education staff, and co-ordinate multi-disciplinary intervention for learners with behaviours of concern patterns or those new to the school.

Speech and Language – There are a number of Speech and Language Assistants working across the two school sites, working under the supervision of our Speech and Language Therapists. As part of the core provision for all learners, both direct intervention through individual and small group work is provided. Assessments are also used to inform communication profiles and to ensure that classroom interventions are targeted and appropriate.

Occupational Therapy – Our schools have access to Occupational Therapy including professionals with Qualification in Sensory Integration. This aspect of our provision has been enhanced in recent years with training for education staff in recognising sensory dysfunction and implementing daily sensory diets for learners. OT also support with functional skills, posture and mobility and motor skills planning.

Music Therapy – Learners at our schools and college benefit from interactive experience with our Music Therapists, who work with individual students on a therapeutic level and build up confidence and communicative capacity using music and intensive interactive approaches.

How do the schools and college track the progress of learners, and report back to parents/carers and professionals?

Kisimul has its own assessment scheme called TEST (ten strands of learning and assessment). This is an integrated system using information and evidence from all settings – (education, therapy, care and parent and professional feedback) to provide an overarching viewpoint of individual progress for each young person. This covers elements of cognition, social, emotional and physical health. Our system uses a multi-disciplinary framework to set learning intentions and also to quantify expected progress for each learner across the term.

We also use standardised testing and autism-specific measures to ensure that we have an assessment data profile for each learner to supplement our evidence.

Parents can contact the schools at any time, and many take up the offer of weekly emails from teachers including photos of work produced and learners engaging in curriculum activities. Progress is formally reported at annual reviews where the content of EHCPs is updated and new learning outcomes will be agreed.

How do the schools ensure that young people are safe and healthy, and that young people’s views are taken into account?

The schools have detailed record keeping processes for each session of the school day, which record responses, behaviour patterns and well-being of learners. Incidents of behaviour are analysed and reviewed for patterns of cues and triggers. Staff have regular safeguarding training from senior leaders within the schools to ensure they are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with possible child protection concerns. The schools and college have designated safeguarding leads in place, and very detailed and comprehensive procedures for dealing with any concerns raised by students or staff.

The schools have a detailed whistle blowing policy in place. Incidents, accidents and any physical interventions necessary to keep young people safe from harm are recorded in detail. This includes schedules and symbolised support to speak to learners after incidents to reassure them and ascertain their well being. The child protection policy and complaints policy for the schools and college can be accessed on the schools’ websites.

Young people with complex health needs are also admitted to the schools. All have comprehensive health care plans that are in place prior to placement through the assessment process. Trained residential and education staff are responsible for giving medication and liaising with health care professionals where necessary to monitor well-being.

Kisimul takes a very flexible and personalised approach to gleaning young people’s views about their environment and the provision on offer. Learners are supported in making decisions around items for the school curriculum, additional resources, and input into whole site events. In recent times, this has included choosing and naming the schools’ pets, choosing the colour schemes and decor for the end of year graduation celebrations, and choosing favoured locations for end of year trips.

How do the schools and college deal with behaviours of concern?

The schools take an individualised approach to supporting mental health and well-being.

Psychology teams monitor information from all settings to look for patterns, cues and triggers for behaviour and the success or otherwise of interventions undertaken at the time. This informs support plans that are accessible to all staff working with young people to ensure a consistent approach. Where students are experiencing negative patterns, or behaviour is becoming a concern and an obstacle to engagement, a multi-disciplinary approach is undertaken, utilising information and input from education, residential and therapeutic teams.

Management of behaviour is non-aversive, and all staff are trained in Meas (meaning respect) a BILD (British Institute of Learning Disabilities) accredited programme of de-escalation, legal and statutory procedures and safe physical intervention where necessary. Any individual interventions for students are comprehensively risk assessed, and any new or emerging behaviour patterns are added and analysed accordingly. Kisimul is experienced in dealing with students with extreme behaviour patterns and complex sensory dysfunction, and aims to replace negative behaviour patterns with more positive and appropriate outcomes for learners.

Essentially, Kisimul aims to enable learners to use their emerging communication skills, rather than using their behaviour, as a means of engaging with their environment and the people within it.

The behaviour policies for the schools or college can be accessed on the relevant part of the schools and college websites.

How are the schools and college held accountable for outcomes for young people?

Kisimul School is subject to regular inspection and monitoring from commissioning local authorities, and Ofsted. The schools’ and college’s latest Ofsted reports can be accessed on this website.

The schools’ leadership have a comprehensive self-evaluation document, linked to inspection outcomes, and allied to a School Improvement Plan that identifies key areas for development. There are regular lesson observations and learning walks, with a varied focus, and quality assurance of lesson planning, and evidence of assessment for learning. All teachers and leaders have annual performance reviews and appraisals, with targets for pupil achievement and whole school developments. The headteachers are accountable to the Asst/Director of Education for Kisimul Group, and provide monthly progress reports to support quality assurance processes. We use external school improvement partners to get an objective view of progress to supplement our internal quality assurance.

What training is in place for the staff at the schools and college?

Kisimul has a comprehensive and detailed training programme in place for all staff. New staff are mentored by senior staff and have a detailed induction programme in place on appointment. Training days include statutory courses and refreshers in safeguarding and Meas, as well as input on new recording processes and school developments. External training, for example from the Autism Education Trust or Hirstwood sensory training, is also a key feature of the school’s programme for staff.

We also have a number of talented teaching assistants who we have supported through the teacher training pathway in partnership with local universities and colleges.

Additionally, the therapeutic teams deliver a range of training in communication, sensory processing and behavioural management, as well as training that is responsive to any emerging needs of the schools cohort. Recent input has included content such as autism and adolescence, sensory integration and sensory diets, and eating and drinking difficulties associated with young people with autism and complex sensory profiles.

How do the schools ensure they value cultural diversity?

On an individual basis, students’ beliefs and cultural dynamics such as diet are outlined within the individual support plan for each student, so that all staff are respective and aware of specific needs. The schools have an active approach to supporting both local, national and international causes by having regular fund raising and whole school themed days supporting various charitable good causes. We encourage visitors and drama groups from a variety of cultures and the curriculum includes themed work on festivals from around the world and the local communities.

We make this input tangible through taking a multi-sensory approach to learning using music, dress, diet and real-life artefacts to enable our learners to experience different elements in an immersive way.

What additional activities might young people have access to?

We aim to provide a rich diversity of activities to our young people. This would include adventurous activities such as sailing, walking expeditions, indoor wall climbing and horse-riding. We would also regularly access the local community to visit local leisure facilities and also to practise life skills such as shopping in real life contexts. We also focus on teaching young people to learn to relax, and may use some of our sensory environments to support them to better understand what helps them to switch off and avoid escalating anxieties.

We would seek consent from parents and professionals before undertaking such activities, but aim to make each young person’s experience as valuable and beneficial to their physical development and mental well-being as possible, while balancing safety and risks.

Contact details

Head of College: Paul Sanderson

Calman Colaiste College
Wisbech Road

Tel: 01733 271326

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