Situated close to Bristol City centre Aurora St Christopher’s School is a DfE registered Independent Special School providing specialist education for pupils aged 5 to 19 years with severe language and communication difficulties and with profound and multiple learning difficulties including physical and sensory needs.
About our School & Children's Home:
Welcome to Aurora St Christopher’s School and children’s home. We have one aim, to empower the children and young people we support to develop and grow in their own unique and inspiring way. In so doing, we work to progress all of our children in five distinct areas including: self-care, communication, community engagement, decision making and emotional resilience.
St Christopher’s provides specialist education and care for young people aged 5 to 19 years with severe language and communication difficulties and with profound and multiple learning difficulties including physical and sensory needs. These may be as a result of autism, cerebral palsy or other conditions that may also include complex health needs.
The skilled team at St Christopher’s is supported by a strong clinical team of nurses, doctors, psychologist, psychiatrist and therapists cover physiotherapy, speech and language and occupational therapy.
This impressive five-acre site close to Bristol City centre, provides flexible learning and living accommodation with six residential houses and two flats to support differing levels of need. Placements can also be flexible with day places at school for a 40-week term, and up to 52 week residential care.
We have completed phase one of our site redesign plans, with phase two starting now, creating a bespoke environment able to support young people with complex learning needs in their ambitions and to achieve their full potential. Young people will leave St Christopher’s with greater independence and opportunities as they leave school and reach adulthood.
St Christopher’s is very much part of the local community, overlooking Westbury Park, in a beautiful five-acre site which has been designed to give students plenty of space and independent movementwithin a structured and safe environment.
This provides multiple classrooms for small class learning of up to five students and individual learning areas can be available if needed. Facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, gym and multi-sensory areas. Outdoor spaces are used for additional learning and development opportunities and include a horticultural garden, a tranquil sensory garden with water features, a sunken trampoline and a climbing wall.
The school provides a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum, designed to meet individual learning needs. Students benefit from small class sizes of up to five and a high staff ratio. They are allocated a class and given a weekly timetable detailing both group and individual learning sessions. Specialist teaching takes into account group dynamics and each child is supported based on their abilities and strengths.
Where required, students may study in individualised learning spaces if their surroundings and other people impact their ability to learn. But the aim is to be inclusive and encourage group work and interaction as much as possible and to develop social and independence skills.
Students can work towards academic qualifications and accreditation through ASDAN (Personal Progress Units) and EQUALS.
Throughout the school week students experience consistent and familiar rhythms that help them to make sense of the structure of their day.
The school morning runs from 09:00 to 12:30. The school afternoon runs from 13:30 to 15:15. Classes have weekly timetables covering all subject areas and each pupil has an individual timetable detailing both group and individual learning sessions.
This approach is enhanced by the imaginative use of a variety of interesting and appropriate resources and the environments they learn in - from the rich experiences of sound, colour and touch in the sensory garden, through to visits to the local parks or physical work in the hydrotherapy pool. Education extends into the local community and students access off-site learning experiences in the nearby park, shops and many of Bristol's other local attractions, such as the Sea Life Centre, Zoo and the docks. These regular trips provide opportunities for students to experience the local and wider communities and put their life skills into practice.
Communication between school and home life is important and daily handover meetings enable the team in the children’s home to continue the work from school and provide a waking day curriculum. Day pupils will have daily reports for home too as well as regular reviews and reports.
The school is staffed by Class Teachers, Subject Teachers, Teaching Assistants and supported by Learning & Care Assistants. Class Teachers are responsible for class groups of up to five children and young people.
Each class group has a maximum number of five children and young people grouped as much as possible according to their chronological age and compatibility. We aim to create age appropriate and differentiated learning opportunities which take into account the group dynamics. Some children and young people will have differentiated learning programmes and separate learning spaces with access to group sessions. The aim is to include all children and young people in group activities developing interaction and social skills.
Teaching and learning activities are adapted to suit the pupils’ individual learning styles. The Aurora St Christopher’s Waking Day Curriculum ensures continuity between learning that takes place during school day and learning that takes place outside the school day in the care setting. However, as most of our pupils reside at St Christopher’s for the 52 weeks of the year, we believe it is of paramount importance to create a clear distinction between ‘home’ and ‘school’ life.
The balance of the curriculum reflects our pupil's needs. Due to the pupils’ severe and complex learning difficulties, most of them are at the early stages of development as learners. They require a high proportion of time allocated to development ‘readiness for learning’. Our pupils present a variety of learning styles (i.e. tactile, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) and these are taken into account as part of planning for groups and individuals.
Pupils with a tactile learning style benefit from using the sense of touch whilst learning. This involves working with and manipulating sensory materials; and using three dimensional learning resources (e.g.objects of reference).
Pupils with a visual learning style benefit from using the sense of sight whilst learning. This involves visual resources (e.g. photos; symbols; visual schedules; and a range of visual media including the use of Interactive White Boards, iPads and other devices).
Pupils with an auditory learning style benefit from the sense of hearing whilst learning. They find easier to learn through spoken language and the use of sounds (e.g. engaging in dialogue, receiving verbal information; using specific sounds to create anticipation).
Our six residential homes and two flats are spacious, light, modern and have been interior designed to be homely, providing comfortable and enjoyable living areas, whilst able to fully meet individual needs.
Houses have up to 9 individual bedrooms with en-suites and shared bathrooms/wetrooms. Several large communal spaces for lounge/TV and dining give young people space to meet and get involved in daily activities or to simply relax. Each house has a large kitchen and choosing, preparing and cooking meals is part of the daily routine to develop independent living skills. This includes shopping at nearby supermarkets and shops, visiting cafes and getting involved in the many leisure activities on offer in the local community and the city.
How to find us:
St Christopher’s School is within easy access of the M32, just off the M5 and M4.
Bristol Temple Mead train station, with mainline links to London and Exeter, is approximately 20 minutes by taxi.