When the idea came around and the wheels started turning, it was 2018. A space for pupils with dyslexia and other associated learning difficulties could not only learn, but also grow into young adults following their GCSE exams and hope to achieve far beyond what they had imagined.
The Sixth form initially started as a space for pupils from The Moat School to continue their education in a setting which was more mature and independent, but still provided the high level of pastoral support, therapy and counselling that has evolved over the years with the well established secondary school. As the idea expanded it has become a Sixth Form for pupils from multiple London Boroughs who have struggled in secondary settings to gain the qualifications and life skills needed to achieve in larger Colleges.
A small close-knit teaching team and Specialist Support staff have created an adult learning environment that is purposeful and supportive, whilst still being fun and interesting. All the pupils at the Sixth Form have a diagnosed learning difficulty, the most common of which has been Autism. Our unique nature of being the only Specialist SEN Sixth Form in central London has meant we have attracted student interest from as far away as Essex. Our opening cohort has experienced the most challenging Year 11 in history having been placed into lockdown in March 2020 and having life paused at such a challenging time as they prepared for exams and transition away from school life. We have found ourselves inundated with potential students who alongside their special needs were experiencing a crisis in confidence and mental health as a result of the sudden changes to their plans from Covid 19. As we came out of lockdown we were able to move out the builders and replace them with students and parents on physical tours of the site which was so important for these unsettled students to help them decide if we could be the best place to help them achieve their aspirations.
Recruiting new staff was another real challenge during this year but we successfully recruited a highly talented and experienced core team that have created an environment that was representative of Central London to help prepare our students to take their next steps when it comes to moving on from our Sixth Form. The idea of building a community within our central London location and being able to ask for help and to help others is integral to the ethos of The Moat Sixth form and this is echoed throughout our curriculum and enrichment programme.
This allows for a well-balanced setting for pupils to grow and express themselves in preparation for whatever may come after the Sixth Form. As part of our academic offer we have included Life Skills lessons which are focused on building resilience, preparing for adulthood and developing money management skills. This is in partnership with the therapeutic work of Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists is offering our students the best of provisions in the most troubling times of Covid 19.