The Headlands School campus includes a floodlit sports pitch and some local houses have been converted to residential accommodation for boarders (Photo Google Earth)

The Headlands School campus includes a floodlit sports pitch and some local houses have been converted to residential accommodation for boarders (Photo Google Earth)

Headlands School – the institution in Penarth which provides day and residential provision for children and young people with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties – has undergone an unannounced inspection by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

The school also deals with children who are diagnosed with “Autistic Spectrum Conditions” (ASC) and who “present challenging behaviour”.The school is run by the charity”Action for Children”.

Gelert West - one of the three residential houses at Headlands School was adapted from a terraced house in St Augustine's Crescent

Gelert West – one of the three residential houses at Headlands School was extended from a terraced house in St Augustine’s Crescent

There are 17 children – the maximum permitted – on the school’s residential register who are accommodated in 3  residential houses: –  Gelert West (6) , Gelert East (4) and Elandash House (7).

CSSIW inspectors observed “interaction and care practices“, held discussions with some of the young people, and with staff on duty and sampled an evening meal in one of the houses with young people and staff . Care records and some house records were checked

The inspectors found that there were “good processes in place to seek young people’s views” and that since the last inspectionchildren’s plans were being  revised after the children’s review meetings to ensure that the individual plans/goals are updated to reflect any changes arising”. “Clear risk assessments” were also in place.

Amongst points needed to improve the service, inspectors said :-

  • Staff should ensure that medication records consistently recorded the amount of medication administered on each occasion and a clear record be maintained of medication received in to the school and sent home.
  • Young people’s files needed to include details of the date and circumstances of any measure of control, restraint or discipline used.
  • The recording of key working sessions should be developed to provide “greater clarity and quality of information”.

 Quality Of Life: The ‘quality of life” for children and young people who have residential boarding arrangements at the school was found to be good  Inspectors said they were  “supported to maintain appropriate family contact, are given individual time and attention to talk to staff and engage in a range of activities”.

Inspectors also reported that  “Young people have a voice and are encouraged to speak up. We saw open and relaxed conversation and interactions between staff and young people and we saw that when young people challenged staff they were able to maintain boundaries.”

The charity Action for Children – which runs the school –  commissioned the children’s advocacy service Tros Gynnal to visit the school regularly and talk to children in school and in each of the residential houses. The report says “If Tros Gynnal identifies an issue that requires individual advocacy for a child they refer this to the placing authority advocacy agency.”

The daily queue of taxis which assembles outside Headlands School to take non-boarders home

The biggest taxi-rank in Penarth: The  daily queue of dozens of taxis which assembles outside Headlands School every afternoon to take non-boarders home.

Inspectors said that each young person’s file held a “pen picture” of the child, an individual plan, risk assessments, and star targets. The information was up to date and the Care Plan Actions document at the front of the file gave a useful overview of all key areas. The file also contained a record of each key worker session but these gave little information, often just being one sentence. The CSSIW said it would be useful to develop these to provide more detailed information to demonstrate progress and achievements.

The CSSIW report says that staff talk with young people and “encourage them to earn back privileges/things they want by showing positive behaviour and attitude and encourage them to take part in events they find difficult”. Young people were praised for their behaviour and achievements and staff were seen to reinforce these in an endeavour to promote positive self esteem and build confidence.

Inspectors said  “Physical intervention was used infrequently and when it was it was used, it was used as a last resort and was recorded. The records were scrutinised and subject to regular monitoring at the weekly and monthly management meetings”.

Children were found to have a healthy diet and were “supported to take their medication regularly”. The report says “Young people were seen to go out individually or in pairs with staff on activities such as a trip to McDonalds and shopping, and others were seen to be able to out independently with permission and agreed times of return. Young people were seen to relax in their houses watching television, playing computer games or spending time in their bedrooms. Other activities at weekends included trips swimming, to the cinema, football, shopping and walking dogs from the dog pound. Some of the children/young people who stayed at the school at weekends had family contact”.

The residential houses had “controlled internet access” with levels of staff supervision in place to reflect individual need and risk. All the young people had signed a “Netsmart” rules agreement.

The CSSIW Report’s general observations of the communal areas of the boarding houses were that they were “clean, spacious, well maintained and suitable for the needs of the children/young people”.


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  1. AK says:

    Good to hear that they are being well looked after.

    A long number of years ago, I saw a group of kids in care on a trip to the beach. One of the boys was being forcibly restrained and thumped by a big guy who was obviously supposed to be in charge.

    It is to my eternal regret that I did not go over and care for the kid and call the police.

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