Thank-you for taking the time to find out more about our school and residential homes. If you are considering Headlands as either as a parent, carer, or local authority, you are seeking a place where your child can feel like they belong, be themselves, and learn. Choosing the right education and care setting is important, so to help, I’ve outlined the key things which inform our practice.
Relationships are at the heart of everything we do. We strive to create reciprocal and trusting relationships between all members of our community and beyond. We believe healthy relationships are the most powerful agent of change. Our passion for creating genuine, lifelong connections allows us to work empathically and collaboratively when times are difficult. The concept of a ‘lifetime membership’ for our students reflects our ambition, that students continue to have a network of people who offer support and advocacy after leaving us.
We believe that children are influenced by their life experiences. Therefore, we are mindful of the disruption, distress, and adversity many of our young people have experienced prior to their arrival here. Knowing the child, by developing a deep understanding of how their life experiences have shaped the way they exist in the world, is an important first step. This enables a shared understanding of their needs and how we can best support them. Remaining curious about ‘what has happened’ to children, replaces the idea of ‘what’s wrong’ with them.
Our main aim is to create emotional safety and a sense of belonging, from which children can form a positive sense of self. Teams create a nurturing environment designed to support and respect each child’s existing family network. It is important that our students have quality, creative educational experiences that are personalised to rekindle their confidence and love of learning. Being part of a national children’s charity means our children and families remain our priority. This wider support allows us to engage with children, their families, and other agencies in a flexible and responsive way.
Democratic principles underpin our relational approach. We believe it is vital to hold the child’s wishes and hopes at the centre of conversations with, and about them during their time here. It is important to us that children learn to play an active role in making decisions about their life. To support this, our teams work hard to create opportunities to contribute to improving life at Headlands. This means regular opportunities for children to talk about the things that matter to them. One of our key values is to respect and accommodate each child’s individual culture, beliefs and heritage.
When children first start out with us, we commit to a position of acceptance and empathy for how hard things have been for them. This position is supported by a belief that all behaviour can be understood through children’s experiences. Over time, our intention is to shift children from a position of mistrust to trust in their relationships, so they can develop healthy behaviours and relationships during their time with us. This is a complex task and sometimes creates a tension between acceptance and challenge, but this is a dilemma we engage with and reflect on as part of our everyday practice.
Headlands is a learning organisation and remains open and engaged to ideas which help us improve our education and care practice for children. Our culture is based on cohesion and consistency, as a result, we have created consistent leadership practices and learning programmes across our teams. This results in a community of shared practice and approaches across home, school and support teams. We work hard to develop and nurture our teams, resulting in a very stable and highly skilled group committed to our mission.