Staff commitment and training

The recruitment process of Hesley Group is thorough and before joining us at Mercury College people’s employment histories are thoroughly checked, references taken up and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks carried out.

We are dedicated to improving the performance and self-esteem of our staff at Mercury College in a way that directly improves the quality of life of everybody who attends Hesley Group service. To this end, the Workforce Development Department within Hesley Group provides and commissions a comprehensive programme of workforce development activities. To do this, a blended learning approach is used including delivery in the classroom for most programmes, e-learning where needed, on the job coaching and mentoring, apprenticeships, qualifications both vocational, academic and professional, accredited courses, open learning and further Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

All new staff are required to attend and complete a relevant corporate and service-specific induction programme to their role. These are aimed at meeting national legislation and standards such as Teaching Assistant level 3 qualification.

Once the above is complete we move on to personal development programmes (CPD) including supervision and ongoing appraisal which are key parts that further develop staff knowledge skills and motivation in order to achieve and maintain a high quality of service for the people we support.

Staff come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring a wealth of specialist autism, learning disability, training, education and other experience to Mercury College.

A highly experienced and specialist interdisciplinary team, comprising of clinicians, managerial and supporting staff, together with families, work to optimise the provision of individualised care and therapeutic interventions. Students are supported by a range of staff, including:

• Senior Tutors/Tutors, Teaching Assistants, Classroom Support Assistants and senior leaders who ensure that teaching and learning is effective;

• The Facilities Manager and College Administrator who each lead teams of core and administration staff that in turn contribute to the smooth running of the college.

As providers of education to students with disabilities we have a duty to ensure that our safeguarding processes are robust and comprehensive. This includes ensuring that: students are listened to and concerns acted upon; adhering to the guidance of adult safeguarding; our staff teams are trained and competent in supporting students; our management and reporting systems meet the standards required by law and are kept under review and up to date with current guidance.

Therapeutic Services

Mercury College has access to an in-house team of therapists and clinicians employed by Hesley Group. The Applied Psychology Team is made up of Psychologists and Behaviour Therapists, with support from assistants. The team aims to understand the emotional, social and behavioural needs of a student to reduce any distress and promote positive wellbeing. They work with the students, their families and school staff to develop a PBS plan, which communicates their preferences, strengths and needs in relation to achieving the best learning outcomes possible.

The Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Therapy Assistants get to know each student well through doing activities together and completing formal and informal assessments with them and their family and college staff.

Many OTs within the team have further training in Ayres Sensory Integration. They assess how students use or rely on their sensory processing skills and how their environments may impact on levels of calm or distress. They will then try out different approaches, helping the student to regulate their own reactions and sensitivities. This is to help them to engage in daily activities more easily and happily, and maybe try things they’ve never done before.

The Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Team aim to support each student’s speech, language and communication needs. We value all types of interaction and the SLTs and Therapy Assistants aim to reduce barriers to communication and learning by promoting an inclusive communication approach. This can include using different types of communication such as:

• Photographs and symbols
• Makaton Signing
• Using accessible information or social stories
• Objects of reference
• Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
• Electronic approaches (such as iPads)

They might also support staff in using Intensive Interaction, an approach which takes the skills of the student and builds on them in a relaxed, enjoyable way.

Speech and Language Therapists also have a role in making sure that everyone has safe and enjoyable mealtimes. Each student who joins Mercury College has an assessment to see if they have any difficulties with eating and drinking (dysphagia). If someone needs extra support with their eating and drinking, the SLT puts guidelines in place to help them.

The Therapeutic Services Team within Hesley Group provides individual and group support for students, depending on what each person needs. They work closely with education teams, providing training, coaching, support and advice. Equipment ranging from communication resources, adapted cutlery and weighted blankets is also provided.

We have access to a Consultant Psychiatrist who provides support to people that require this input.

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