The Willow Tree provides a safe and stimulating working environment for learners and all staff ensure students experience a rich and exciting curriculum tailored to their specific needs.

Staff ensure a multi-sensory approach to learning, providing a Total Communication Environment which facilitates communication for all and following strategies as outlined in individual student behaviour support or ASD plans.  Students are encouraged to be as independent as possible in their learning by establishing routines and schedules.  They are empowered in their learning through the negotiation of individual success criteria, adapted to their level of understanding.

We believe that the most important factor in the development of students is the relationships between staff and student. 

Therefore, our students are always spoken to with respect and treated with dignity.  Students are praised and encouraged for good behaviour, real effort and for making positive choices. This is always modelled by staff interactions.  The students are taught one to one or in small groups with a high staff / student ratio, as appropriate to individual needs.  The Willow Tree was designed to include bespoke classrooms providing a highly specialised and personalised approach for some learners' needs.  Specialist resources / approaches are used in these classrooms and the staff have consistent access to members of the Management Team throughout the college day.

The Willow Tree Centre opened in September 2015 and previous to this the majority of students were educated at The Bridge School.

The transition for the students was very successful due to the bespoke design of the building alongside the employment of familiar staff from The Bridge School.  The local authority commissioned a staffing structure to include a head, deputy head, learning facilitators and learning support assistants (LSAs).  All staff receive extensive specialist training prior to undertaking their roles, ensuring they can meet the individual needs of learners.  Training includes: MAPA, manual handling, risk of Aspiration / Dysphagia, Makaton, level 2 food safety, AAC, PECS and TEACCH.  Statutory training is also undertaken by all staff e.g. PREVENT and safeguarding.  Specialist learning facilitators are also trained to safely administer medication and emergency first aid, as appropriate to student need. All training is refreshed as appropriate.

For further information or to arrange a tour, contact the Head of The Willow Tree – Sarah Jones

Contact: 01952 642325 Mobile: 07920 007726 Email:

Aims & Values

Preparation for Adulthood

We strive to ensure our students progress and leave as young adults who are as independent as possible, at home, in the community and potentially in the work place.  We aim to facilitate opportunities enabling our students to actively participate and make meaningful contributions.

Promoting Independence

With an understanding that some of our students will never be fully independent, we strive to teach them to be as independent as possible.  This helps ensure they live as full a life as possible and builds their self-esteem and confidence.  Independence is promoted with small progressions and skills are ‘over taught’ to help students maintain their progress going forward. Students are fully supervised, allowing staff to give guidance and ensure their safety.

Age Appropriate Learning

Our curriculum recognises learners as young adults.  Content reflects the priorities of post 16 age groups and begins a shift from main school curriculum models and towards preparation for adult life.  Numeracy, literacy and IT are all covered but via more age appropriate and functional delivery.  There is a shift away from the teaching of new concepts, towards recognising existing skills and providing meaningful ways to apply them in functional, everyday contexts.

Personalised Learning Programmes

Developing each student’s bespoke person-centred programme starts with a six-week initial assessment period to identify student’s requirements.  This includes information from schools, families, carers and other agencies (e.g. physiotherapists and speech & language therapists). Students take part in a variety of sessions in different settings exploring different aspects of the course.  Students and parents share their aspirations and preferences and are supported to develop an individual timetable.  Potential barriers to employment, independence or social integration are also discussed.  Reviews are held at intervals to discuss progress, targets and changes to individual timetables if necessary.