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Elms School

About Us

Welcome to our school!

Pupils attending Elms School have an Education and Health Care Plan, reflecting their complex needs, which include: SEMH, ASD, MLD, PTSD, ADHD, ODD, FASD, OCD, attachment difficulties, personality disorders and specific learning difficulties. Their main identified need type is either SEMH or ASD.

Pupils join at various times in their school career from Y1 – Y11 and have often been out of education for some time.

Elms School has traditionally taken some of the most challenging pupils in the area, including some who have not been successful in independent provisions. This presents its own set of challenges, but we have a good record of helping pupils modify their behaviour so that they can be successful.

The school serves a wide catchment area; children come from Dover, Deal, Folkestone, Ashford, Thanet, Canterbury, Romney Marsh and neighbouring villages.

We currently have 156 pupils, with a maximum capacity of 156.

The main need types are:

  • ASD = 27%
  • SEMH = 73%
  • ADHD (primary need is SEMH) = 42%.

Many pupils display symptoms of these conditions without a formal diagnosis.

Elms School is part of the KsENT Co-Operative Trust, which includes all Kent Special Schools. Elms is a full member of the Trust, which aims to work collaboratively across Kent to provide a world-class education for our pupils and to offer school to school support to each other and to mainstream schools in Kent.

Elms is one of five SEMH with LD Schools in Kent. There are two SEMH Secondary schools, which cater for pupils who have the potential to achieve a Grade C/4 or above in Maths and English at GCSE. The SEMH with LD schools cater for pupils who have learning difficulties along with SEMH difficulties and those pupils routinely take exams in Maths and English to Entry Level. Some of our more able pupils take Maths and English Functional Skills at Level 1 and, in some instances, Level 2 or GCSE.

Values & Ethos

“At Elms School, we have high expectations of all pupils and aim to support them with their social and emotional development as well as their learning needs. We want them to enjoy learning, thrive and become happy, productive members of an evolving British society.

Our broad and balanced curriculum is relevant, engaging and provides opportunities to achieve academic success as well as equipping them with skills for life. Our highly-trained staff provide bespoke therapeutic interventions, such as Thrive, to target developmental gaps and enable pupils to manage their behaviour and regulate their emotions so that they can form meaningful relationships throughout their lives. We also use Restorative Approaches to build and maintain a sense of community and to provide our pupils with the ability and attitude to respect the viewpoints of others and, when necessary, take responsibility for resolving conflict and putting things right.”

They also take exams in Science and Computer Science. Pupils take GCSE courses in Art and BTec in Catering and they have opportunities to study DT or Humanities and MFL or Duke of Edinburgh Award in KS4.

A few Primary pupils with SEMH transfer to a SEMH Secondary School at the end of Key Stage 2 and those with Learning Difficulties remain at Elms.

Staff from Elms School deliver training to other Kent schools in Team Teach and Restorative approaches. As a school, we follow the Thrive approach and we were one of the first schools in Kent to embrace the approach.

Elms is a Restorative School, with all staff trained in Restorative Approaches and this underpins our approaches to Behaviour Management. We are also an attachment aware school, with all staff trained to use the Thrive Approach and eight qualified Thrive practitioners.

We manage our own transport for pupils. This enables us to train our own staff to manage the behaviours of our pupils and to group pupils appropriately on our vehicles. Pupils therefore have a settled start to the day. They are also offered breakfast on arrival.

A Welfare Officer eases and supports transition from school to college to reduce NEETS and we have a high success rate in terms of pupils taking up college courses. We are developing our careers programme led by our Welfare Officer.

We have an open door policy and parents and carers value the support we offer both them and their children. We have increased the number of opportunities for parents to attend functions at school, both formally for parent-teacher consultations and informally through our regular community café and other events.

We have an impressive building and specialist rooms and resources, which include a Sports Hall, ICT Suite and Specialist rooms for Design & Technology, Science, Art, Music and Food Technology. We have an outside learning area and we are developing Forest Schools.

We use Parentmail - this is a home-school communication system which uses both e-mail and text messages to keep us in touch with you. Please click here to visit their website. If you require paper copies, please email your request to with “paper copies” as the subject. Alternatively please call 01304 201964 to make your request