North Star Academy Trust hosts visit from South West Regional Director Lucy Livings

North Star Academy Trust welcomed Department for Education’s Regional Director for the South West Lucy Livings and colleagues to the North Star 240 site in Bristol to share with her the great work being carried out and discuss how the Government can better support families with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in the area.

As Regional Director, Lucy works locally across children’s social care, SEND, schools and area-based programmes to improve outcomes for children, families and learners. North Star Academy Trust operates three centres in the Bristol area helping children with SEND and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs; it also operates an outreach service supporting hundreds of children in almost 50 mainstream schools to support pupils with SEND and SEMH needs.

Lucy and her team met with CEO Kaye Palmer-Green, Project Lead Ollie Benzie. Chair Stephen Hornsby and other teaching staff to witness first hand the great work that North Star 240 does with young people (aged 11-16). From reading and art, to PE and catering, Lucy met with pupils as they tackled various curriculum subjects.

She learned more about the types of needs North Star Academy Trust supports local families with – from supporting children through trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to helping pupils with neurodiversity and other learning difficulties to thrive. Mr Benzie explained how the school works with parents, as well as children, to improve attendance and behaviour.

Mrs Palmer-Green and team discussed also the challenges facing SEND providers such as North Star Academy Trust, including limited funding from Government that has a direct affect on Local Authorities, including Bristol City Council; and recruitment and retention of teaching staff as salaries can often not compete with non-teaching jobs in the private sector. Lucy acknowledged a crisis in terms of SEND funding, but also spoke of the opportunity to work together to foster a truly inclusive education system.

“It was brilliant to welcome Lucy and team to North Star Academy to give them first-hand insight into what we are doing to support local families with SEND and SEMH needs locally,” said Ms Palmer-Greene. “We have years of proven expertise in this area and we’re keen to share that to support the wider sector. We’re excited to hear plans for more regionwide working to support improved education provision, and look forward to working with the Department for Education, Local Authority and other local schools to support more young people to be the best they can.”