Westwood Farm School

McKee Class - Specialist Resource Base for pupils with Complex Needs

The Complex Needs Resource (CNRB) at Westwood Farm Schools is a resource provision run in partnership with West Berkshire Council.

Our new resource is set within the grounds of the school and currently has children from Reception to Year 3 placed with us. Children are full-time within the base and have their own facilities as well as access to some of the school resources such as the library and Forest School.

In line with all classes, our base has been named after an author. Elmer, perhaps McKee’s most famous character symbolises us in many ways. Elmer is amazing, he lives the way he does and others are inspired by his example. Our children inspire us all the time which just happens to be one of our school values. Elmer in fact embodies all our school values, and, just like us he embraces the acceptance of all, celebrating their unique characteristics and abilities. In McKee we strive to ensure our pupils flourish through a nurturing and enabling environment encouraging them to grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

Children at the base often have complex needs and / or autism. Other diagnoses and syndromes can include Speech Language and Communication Difficulties / Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), hyper-mobility and genetic disorders. This is not an exhaustive list, and when considering placing the children we look at their individual needs and difficulties.

All children at the resource have their own individual development plans and in addition most have a therapeutic plan. These plans are

based upon the outcomes identified in their EHCPs but is not exclusive to them. For example, it may include advice and recommendations provided by the occupational therapist. Children’s plans are regularly reviewed and adapted by staff in response to changes in need or following progress towards set targets. We use a total communication approach with the aim of each child developing a consistent and effective way to communicate their wants and needs. In addition to this we work with other professionals within West Berkshire’s Education teams such as the Autism Advisory Service and the Early Development and Inclusion Team.


The resource is based in two rooms with an outdoor area and toileting facilities. Rosie Room is the base for our children who are working on developing their early engagement and interaction skills. They often have additional sensory integration needs and the room reflects this in both its provision and timetable. Children learn through short bursts of adult led interaction balanced with child initiated sensory and learning time, process so that they remain happy, regulated, and secure.

Our second room, Wilbur room has a slightly more formal structure to the day and to how it is set up. Children in this room take part in short, directed learning sessions as individuals or in groups of up to three children. As they become ready, they begin some early subject based work including literacy and maths. The focus however is still very much building early social and emotional skills and understanding. All children have equal access the outside area.

Our Staff 

Our team come from many different educational backgrounds, this supports us in meeting the different ages and diverse needs of our pupils.

Natasha Howlett, our Teacher in Charge is a qualified SENCo, has a qualification in SEN and has worked in mainstream schools and with children with SENCo since 1995. She has a passion for Early Years and KS1, as well as championing children who have additional difficulties. Natasha has also worked with children who have emotional difficulties based in attachment and trauma.

Our deputy, Nikki Stewart, is currently undertaking a qualification in Leadership and Management and has spent several years working in a nursery leading the provision for children with high level SEN needs. Like all our staff, Nikki has a drive and commitment to ensure all our pupils reach their full potential understanding the need to nurture them, so they feel safe and secure within their educational environment.

We have a team of dedicated teaching assistants who come from different backgrounds from Early Years settings to mainstream schools. Most of our assistants have experience and training in supporting children with additional needs whilst some are at the beginning of their careers in special education. We have a team of eight staff, some full and some part-time.

Westwood Farm works closely an NHS Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist.  All Children attending Westwood Farm resource have access to a universal therapy service where the therapy team:

  • Work in the classroom, alongside the other classroom based staff, to obtain a clearer picture of each child’s skills and how these impact on their learning and social skills.
  • Support staff by showing how they can work on developing a pupil’s skills across all school activities.
  • Provide training to school staff.
  • Are available on site each week to answer questions and give advice.


The placement of children at our resource

Children can only be placed with us through the specialist Local Authority Placement Panel. Children will need to have an EHCP in place with severe learning difficulties, (including communication and language) being their primary need. Most children will already have or be on the pathway for a diagnosis of being on the Autistic Spectrum. The criteria for your child to be considered at panel is below.

Parents who would like their child to be considered for a place at the resource should talk to the SENCo at their child’s current setting and / or contact West Berkshire’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabled Children’s Team at senteam@westberks.gov.uk or on 01635 519713. If the West Berkshire SEN team are considering presenting your child to their Local Authority panel you will be able to ring the school and request a visit to ensure you feel confident that our resource is the right setting for your child.

To be considered for placement a child needs to:

  • Meets the LA’s statutory assessment criteria for an Education, Health and Care Plan with a Primary Need of Severe Learning Difficulties
  • Have complex needs which have a significant impact on learning and development
  • Require specialist teaching and support, this might include other professionals such as a Speech and Language Therapist or an Occupational Therapist.