About Our School

Woodlands School provides support for boys with a variety of social, emotional and mental health challenges. The learning environment and facilities here allow students to access a varied curriculum in a calm and nurturing environment and the team strives to give every student the confidence and opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Pupils overcome significant obstacles due to the care and support they receive in school. Leaders and staff work hard to improve pupils’ confidence and self-esteem. This careful and personalised approach to each pupil improves their behaviour and progress.
— Ofsted Report - 2017

Student Profile

We are skilled and experienced professionals who are able to support boys with difficulties with:

  • Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

  • Specific Learning difficulties (Dyslexia)

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder/ Autistic Spectrum Conditions (i.e Asperger’s)

  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

  • Moderate Learning difficulties (MLD)

  • Conduct Disorder

  • Attachment Disorder

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Age: 10-19 years

Gender: Boys

High levels of support: all students are provided with enhanced support throughout the school day and provision can be made for those requiring higher levels of support, either full time or periodically. This will enable them to access the curriculum and participate in school activities.  

Placements: education is delivered for 38 weeks of the year.  190 days per year. 


Our Aims

At Aurora Woodlands we focus on:

  • Providing personalised specialist education – where students can learn and express themselves in a nurturing and safe environment that understands their needs and supports them to fulfil their potential

  • Supporting students to be part of an enriched school and community life

  • Preparing students effectively for life beyond school, by developing their abilities and supporting them to achieve their own unique level of independence as they approach adulthood.

I hope that every child that struggles to cope in mainstream gets the opportunity to attend this school as it has been the best thing for my son.
— Parent of Student at Aurora Woodlands School



Woodlands School is located in Darwen, a small town in Lancashire. The school building is a large, converted Victorian house, set in a beautiful location. We have a range of specialist classrooms of varying sizes which cater for up to 63 students.

We have an ICT suite, a library with breakout area, a fully equipped design technology workshop and a large dining room where students and staff sit together for breakfast and lunch. Every morning we hold an assembly which is centered around a specific theme, and takes place in our large communal hall.

In the school grounds, we have a five-a-side 3G football pitch which students make use of during their break times. For other sporting activities we make use of the local leisure facilities.


The School Day


The school day runs from 9.00a.m. to 2.50p.m. Monday to Thursday; with a 2.30p.m. finish each Friday.

Students are collected from home by their Key Workers and dropped back home at the end of the day. We find this supports higher levels of attendance, effective safeguarding, strong relationships and allows students regular access to a non-teaching member of staff if they need to talk to someone. It also allows for parents or carers to have daily contact with the school staff.

The timetable is designed to ensure maximum engagement in the core subjects of English, Maths, Computing and Science in addition to students accessing the Foundation subjects. There are opportunities for students in Years 10 and 11 to have time in the school week to “specialise” and choose to put extra time and energy into subjects they favour as well as meeting the statutory lesson allocation.

For those who require additional support with reading and writing, we are able to adjust their timetable to support them in the areas where it is required the most.

Students have access to a varied Outdoor and Social Education programme, which includes kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, fell walking, team building activities and a range of excellent confidence building and exciting activities. We find these activities have a positive impact on student’s confidence, self-esteem and social skills.

For younger students, we are able to offer explicit social skills sessions where this is needed.  

The Curriculum

We offer a broad and balanced curriculum, which comprises the National Curriculum with a rich and varied programme of learning to help support the social and emotional development of our students.


We ensure that all students can access accredited courses suitable for their individual needs and offer GCSEs in Maths, English language, English Literature, Science, Computer Science, Modern Foreign Language, Humanities and Art. Additional courses include Functional Skills and Entry Level Functional Skills in Maths, English (Stepping up to English Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards), Science, ICT, Modern Foreign Language, Humanities and Art.

We offer Unit awards in PHSCE, Construction, and Art.

We offer accredited Vocational based training:

  • IMI Level 1 Award in Vehicle Maintenance 501/0554/4 (12 CREDITS)

  • Level 1 Mixed Trades Vocational Qualification (12 CREDITS)



Learning styles

We are aware that students respond well when their preferred learning styles are taken into account.  Our experienced teachers are aware of the need to adapt teaching and ensure that programmes of learning are personalised. We use a range of techniques to engage students in learning, including learning styles, such as visual, auditory or kinaesthetic to ensure that all needs are met and to ensure the lessons have the appropriate levels of pace and keep the students engaged.


Outcomes and Qualifications

Regardless of the level of a student’s starting point, including levels of attainment when he arrives at Aurora Woodlands School, we support them  to reach their full potential by maximising opportunities to gain a portfolio of appropriate qualifications. This is essential for all students at our school.

  • External assessors have verified that since starting at the school, students have made at least “good” progress in core subjects of English, Maths, Science and Computing.

  • All Year 11 students have achieved a range of qualifications including GCSEs.

  • Our school encourages the early completion of Functional skills and Entry Level qualifications from the start of Year 9 to allow a greater portfolio of qualifications to be built up prior to GCSE examinations in Year 11.   

  • We have well established termly attainment assessment from entry into the school through to the end of Key Stage 4, which tracks and monitors progress in all key areas, including spelling and reading age.,

  • Effective assessment and tracking systems are in place to enable accurate end of Key Stage 4 predictions.  

Evidence of progress/performance of students for the previous academic year is available from the school upon request.

Fantastic school - the best around!
— Parent

Post 16 Training and Employment

Since opening in 2012, we have successfully supported the majority of our Year 11 students back to mainstream schools.  

Of our end of Year 11 student leavers, all but one of them have either gone on to post 16 employment or education. In the last academic year, no students were classified as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET).

How to Find Us

Directions from M65 (Darwen BB3, UK)

  • Take M65 to Earcroft Way. Take exit 4 from M65 - 7 min (6.9 mi)

  • Take A666 to Holly Tree Close - 11 min (3.0 mi)

  • At the roundabout, take the 4th exit onto Earcroft Way (0.3 miles)


  • Turn left onto Blackburn Rd/A666 (Continue to follow A666 2.4 mi

  • Turn right onto Ashleigh Street (0.1 mile)

  • Ashleigh St turns left and becomes Ross Street (0.1 miles)

  • Slight right onto Holly Tree Close (351 ft)


Contact Details

Address: Aurora Woodlands School, The Woodlands, Holly Tree Close, Darwen, BB3 2NG

Tel: 01254 706600


Headteacher: Lynn Burton

Proprietor/Governing Body: Jeanette Young

The Aurora Group, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT.

Tel: 020 3617 0170


Introduction to Woodlands School - click here to view

Woodlands Options Booklet - click here to view

Woodlands School British Values - click here to view

Policies and Information


Ofsted Report

Click here to view latest report

Term Dates

Click here to view or download 2018-19

Click here to view or download 2019 - 2020


Admission Policy - click here to view

Anti Bullying Policy - click here to view

Behaviour Management Policy - click here to view

Child Protection & Safeguarding Policy - click here to view

Curriculum Policy - click here to view

Exclusion Guidance - click here to view

Compliments & Complaints Policy* - click here to view

*the number of formal complaints are available upon request

DDA Equality Scheme - click here to view

Fire Safety Policy - click here to view

First Aid Policy - click here to view

Health and Safety Policy - click here to view

Privacy Policy - click here to view

Aurora Safer Working Practice - click here to view