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Alternative school uses innovative teaching methods

29/09/2016 Joanna

New Horizons school in Longbarn, Warrington, is approaching teaching in a new and innovative way based on neuroscience. 

This unique approach has garnered national attention for the school, which is specifically aimed at teaching troubled and excluded children in the area. Usually, pupils who struggle with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties are referred by their school. The staff at New Horizons then work with them to manage their behaviour, so that they are able to return to mainstream education.

Head teacher Karen Thomson said: "There’s a risk of segregation with challenging behaviour. It’s about using language to correct that behaviour. There’s a big gap between neuroscience and mental health and education - we want to work within our town to fill that gap."

The school uses teaching techniques that are based on scientific research in order to improve the behaviour of its students.

As part of this, the first activity of the day allows the pupils to discuss anything on their minds. This then allows them to more calmly move on to maths, English and cooking classes. In the afternoon, the teachers spend more time addressing the behavioural issues among the students, which is often incorporated into creative subjects.

Ms Thomson explained to the Warrington Guardian that even lunch is carefully thought out to offer the best opportunities to the students.

"Nutrition is a very big part of behaviour - we have lunch at the time it’s best scientifically."

Due to its current success working with both primary and secondary schools in the area, New Horizons now wants to expand its teacher training so that mainstream schools feel more equipped to deal with students with behavioural issues. 

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