Outstanding Doncaster children’s home gets top Ofsted report

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A Doncaster children’s home that provides specialist care for children who are deaf has once again retained its ‘outstanding’ rating following its latest Ofsted inspection.

Dickson House, a children’s home managed by Doncaster Deaf Trust, has been rated outstanding by the government regulator for the past seven years.

Established in 2002, Dickson House provides care for up to nine children with sensory impairment – six in the main house and three in the North Flat. Staff at the home provide care for 52 weeks of the year and 38-week educational residential placements for children who need accommodation while studying at the Trust’s school - Doncaster School for the Deaf.

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One of the oldest deaf schools in the country, Doncaster School for the Deaf provides education for pupils from age four to 19, including those from outside the local area.

Happy youngsters and staffHappy youngsters and staff
Happy youngsters and staff

The outstanding rating covered all three key criteria: overall experiences and progress of children and young people; how well children and young people are helped and protected; and the effectiveness of leaders and managers.

Highlighted in the report is the comment that, ‘The children’s home provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the children’s home contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection, and care.’ The residents live at the home from Monday to Friday, term-time only. This has been a long-term arrangement for these children. Once children start their residential placement these arrangements remain in place until they transition to college.

Dickson House has a variety of spacious communal areas including a playroom with computers and games, a TV lounge, dining room, kitchen and a garden. The young residents also have access to a wide range of on-site facilities, including six acres of playing fields, football pitches, tennis courts and a sports hall.

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Alexis Johnson, chief executive of Doncaster Deaf Trust and the Responsible Individual for Dickson House, said: “We are so pleased that our Children’s Home has once again been recognised at outstanding. This Ofsted report is a fantastic reflection of the facilities and support our Dickson House team provide.

“The home focuses on communication and care and aims to provide each young person with an individually designed care programme to develop skills and maximise their potential.

“The report highlights the significant difference living at our Children’s Home makes to the lives of our children stating that ‘children thrive because of the opportunity to identify with Deaf people as role models. Children see deaf adults in the home fulfilling their career as carers and deputy managers. The children also attended a session in school where deaf adults were invited to speak about their professional career choices. Children are encouraged to be aspirational.’ None of this would be possible without our caring and dedicated staff, whose fantastic work helps empower young people to make informed decisions about their lives. They work tirelessly to provide this inspirational service and the Trustees, and I are hugely thankful to them all.”

Parents opinions were also mentioned in the report with one parent saying: “I was apprehensive sending my child to live away from home, but it is the best decision I have ever made. He is so happy and he has friends who he can talk to. His sign language has vastly improved, and this makes a massive difference to his communication and confidence.”

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The report goes on to say that children’s families consistently praise the effective communication from staff, and partnership working is a considerable strength of this service. Families feel part of their children’s lived experiences. Parents feel able to engage their child in discussions about their time at the home because they are well informed and provided with a detailed weekly summary of their child’s achievements and progress.

Inspectors found that staff are skilled and highly effective in their response to the communication needs of the children in their care. Staff are proficient in British Sign Language (BSL), with all staff qualified to a minimum of level two.

Alexis added: “Our manager Kate is recognised throughout the report for her strong leadership and her passionate approach to ensuring that all of our children receive the best possible care. She is a real asset to the Trust.”

To find out more about Dickson House and Doncaster Deaf Trust visit www.deaf-trust.co.uk

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