Head's Welcome


Courtlands Special School Academy caters for primary aged children who have Moderate Learning Difficulties, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH), and other complex needs.  Within this there is a wide range of needs, such as children with mild medical issues, developmental disorders such as ADHD and Dyspraxia, Autism and speech and language difficulties.

Courtlands is an amazing place to come to with a real feel of positivity, acceptance and camaraderie. You see targeted therapies many other schools do not offer and a curriculum that is designed to meet the additional needs of our pupils. You see learning organised to meet the developmental needs of the children and we have the confidence to buck the trend, stand out, and to aim for the outstanding.

To attend Courtlands, your child must have an Education, Health and Care Plan and meet the special needs described above.  Your mainstream school or nursery SENDCo can apply to your local authority for a place and a panel of heads and other professionals decide whether this school is appropriate. We have a maximum of 75 children here at any one time ranging in age from 4 to 11 years old.  We take pupils from Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall and we welcome prospective visits from interested parents, SENDCos or Local Authority Officers.

We have small classes of no more than ten children with lots of adult support so that our children can make excellent progress.  We look at the whole child and help them to improve both their academic achievement and their personal wellbeing.  This means that we help them to socialise, eat and play independently, become more active and have better coordination.  We help them to learn to swim, ride a bike and look after themselves in every way.  Our children make excellent progress and really enjoy coming here as can be seen through their smiles and obvious love for learning.

The levels of progress made by our pupils is significantly above national expectations for like pupils, our attendance is in the top 1% of special schools nationally and our exclusion levels in the lowest 1% nationally.  We are a truly inclusive school who believe that the children have a right to have their needs met and not feel excluded from anything.

As our parents put it… “The school’s overall provision is outstanding!  It is comprehensive yet still has a personal, family feel.  We couldn’t be happier with the school.”
As special school staff, we accept our role as being ‘more than just teachers’ and take pride in taking small steps towards making a big difference.  All of our children love coming to school and aim to learn to the best of their abilities.

Our curriculum has been designed from the ‘ground up’ to meet the needs of the children.  Whilst it is based on the National Curriculum, we have adapted and added to what you could expect in a mainstream school.  We use specialist approaches such as TEACCH, ELKLAN, Theraplay, Makaton, Attention Autism, Precision Instruction and many more to help our children to access the curriculum.  We have a unique ‘subject’ called Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) which has won National recognition for its innovative use of the outdoors to teach children the value of relationships and transferable skills.  It uses traditional outdoor activities such as Forest School, Mountain Biking, Archery and Problem Solving to teach our pupils resilience, team work, adaptability and perseverance – all life skills that they will need to be successful in the 21st century jobs market.

We have a team of complementary therapeutic workers who provide for the wider needs of our pupils from their emotional needs, through their medical needs to their sensory needs.  We use expertise from our Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language therapists and other professionals to design bespoke packages for some of the most disadvantaged children in the area.  We also have a reputation for flexibility and making the impossible possible.

Our children love coming to school and enjoy all that we have to offer, through their therapies to the extra-curricular clubs and activities, but most of all the personal relationships they have with their peers and us. They tell us that they feel very safe and well cared for and proud when they make progress. They behave exceptionally well when consistently supported to reflect on their own choices, and learn to empathise with others and to be proud of their own achievements. I believe that we lay solid foundations for them to build an independent and prosperous life upon in the future.

Another parent said… ‘ I feel confident and relaxed sending my child to Courtlands. My child always looks forward to going and enjoys the day and returns home happy and smiling.”

Mr Lee Earnshaw

Head Teacher