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Combe Pafford School

Combe Pafford is a thriving special school which successfully caters for boys and girls who have moderate learning difficulties, physical difficulties or autism. 
They have a strong commitment to provide an environment where pupils feel happy and safe, not to fear failure but to grow in confidence, increase self esteem and understand their capabilities in preparation for life outside and after school.

Headteacher: Mr Michael Lock
DfEE No: 7041

Type of School: Academy

Who to contact

Contact Name
Mr M Lock
Contact Position
Head Teacher
01803 327902
Fax: 01803 327902

Where to go

Steps Lane

Other Details


Age Ranges
From 7 years to 19 years
Referral required
Referral Details

Admissions Requirements

Name of School

Combe Pafford School (Special)


The primary need must be Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), some pupils with MLD may also have Autism or Physical Difficulties

Number of Places

202 pre 16*    60 Post 16*  (*as per EFA funding agreement)

Age Range

7 –19  

Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Pupils with MLD will have attainments significantly below expected levels in most areas of the National curriculum, despite appropriate interventions. They have much greater difficulty than their peers do in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may have associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration, under-developed skills, communication and interaction or physical difficulties.

To access a place at Combe Pafford School the child:

  • should be in receipt of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan naming moderate learning difficulties as the primary area of need; and
  • for the main school, pupils should be between 7 and 16 years of age (Y3 – Y11), though admission at Key Stage 4 (Y10 & 11) would occur only in exceptional circumstances;
  • for the Sixth Form, students should be between the ages of 16-19 (Y12 – Y14), admissions priority will be given to Combe Pafford School pupils, but students may also be admitted through consultation with the Local Authority if they fit the general admissions criteria.
  • requires access to an appropriately differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum; and
  • should exhibit a level of ‘vulnerability’ requiring an educational environment offering a high the level of social and emotional support.

Children with an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)

Pupils with an ASC placed at Combe Pafford will have moderate learning difficulties, but also have significant needs on the ASC spectrum and find it difficult to:

  • understand and use non-verbal and verbal communication;
  • understand social behaviour, thus affecting their ability to interact with both children and adults; and
  • think and behave flexibly, this being demonstrated in restricted, obsessional or repetitive activities.

They find it difficult to understand the social behaviour of others, are literal thinkers and fail to understand the social context. When routines are changed, or when settings don’t meet their needs, they can become anxious or stressed. This can result in inappropriate behaviour.

Some pupils with an ASC have altered perceptions of sounds, sights, smell, touch and taste that affect their response to these sensations. They may also have unusual sleep and behaviour patterns.

Young children with an ASC may not play with toys in a conventional and imaginative way, but use them rigidly and in a repetitive manner. They find it hard to generalise skills and have difficulty in adapting to new situations, instead preferring a known routine.

For admission to the autistic spectrum base within Combe Pafford School the child should:

  • have an EHC plan that identifies both MLD and an autistic spectrum disorder as the primary areas of need;
  • require access to an appropriately differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum;
  • require a high the level of social and emotional support;
  • be able to, or capable of, developing spoken language, (although this may need to be initially supported by an appropriate augmented system of communication such as PECS);
  • demonstrate a level of tolerance and have a behaviour profile that would make mainstream education inappropriate.

Physical Difficulties (PD)

As a general principle of policy, the Local Authority does not place children whose primary area of need is a physical and/or medical difficulty in special schools.

Only children who present physical and/or medical difficulties together with moderate learning difficulties will be considered for placement at the school.

For further information about admission to the school please contact the SEN team at Torbay LA

Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
Primary (4-10 years)
Secondary (11-16 years)
Sixth form / other post 16 provider (16 - 19 years)
SEN Provision Type

SEN Information

A printable version of this form is available in the downloads section.

What special education provision is available at our setting?

We are a school that caters for pupils who have moderate learning difficulties, physical difficulties and autism. Pupils are aged between 8-19 and are taught in small classes usually up to 12 pupils. We have designed our curriculum to develop the academic, personal and social and work-related learning needs of pupils. All staff have made a positive choice to work with SEN pupils and besides teaching staff we have a pastoral support team, literacy and maths intervention teams and use a range of other professionals for support and advice.

What criteria must be satisfied before children and young people can access this provision/service?

All pupils must have an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP). Admission to the school is through Torbay Local Authority who have written admissions criteria which they apply. New pupils would normally be admitted in September.

How do we identify the particular special educational needs of a child or young person?

All pupils have a statement of special educational needs and lots of information is included in that and subsequent Annual Reviews. We also collect a lot of information from parents and carers on entry and then we have frequent parents meetings to keep up to date.

If we need anything specific, we ring. Our pastoral support team are there to ensure we support pupils’ needs to enable them to focus on learning.

How do we consult with parents and/or children and young people about their needs?

All parents and carers and young people are invited into school to look around before the offer of a place is made. We organise regular parents evenings, one in late September to sort out any issues early in the new school year, one in the Spring Term which is a ‘Celebration of Pupils Work’ and one in the Summer Term which is a report on progress through the year. We also hold annual reviews of the EHCP and are happy to arrange for parents to make an appointment to visit to discuss any issues. We constantly talk to pupils about school, progress, options and making good choices.

What is our approach to teaching children and young people with special educational needs?

We teach pupils in small class groups - each class has a teacher and at least one learning support assistant. We supplement this with additional support for English, Maths and behaviour where this is necessary. We try to ensure that lessons are interesting, often setting the topic up with a visit or visitor. Lessons are differentiated according to need and a wide variety of strategies are employed to ensure all pupils are engaged and progress.

How can we adapt our curriculum for children and young people with special educational needs?

Our curriculum is totally designed to meet the needs of our pupil population. We have specialist facilities for all curriculum subjects and have outstanding vocational facilities which can be used by all classes. We offer every child a residential opportunity every year

– in year 3 this might be one night away somewhere locally, in year 10 this might be a trip to China or South America (heavily subsidised by the school). We offer sports events, inter- school matches and opportunities to enjoy music and dance.

How will we ensure we get the services, provision and equipment that children and young people need?

We want every child to be as successful as they can be. This means if we don’t have it, we will make every reasonable effort to get it. We want all our pupils to experience all we offer, we have taken wheelchairs around the Great Wall, purchased specialist equipment and we subsidise trips and visits. Our pastoral support team will chase to ensure needs are not forgotten or overlooked.

How is this provision funded?

As an academy we are funded by the DfE. We also receive ‘top-up’ funding from Torbay LA. We have also developed several of our own income streams and we use these to develop the school and the pupils, to provide the best possible educational offer.

What additional learning support is available for children and young people with special educational needs and how do they access it?

We have intervention teams in school to provide additional support and we also have other visiting professionals such as an Educational Psychologist, Speech Therapist, School Doctor, Careers Advisers etc. All additional requests can be made through the school.

How do we support and improve the emotional and social development of children and young people with special educational needs?

Each class of 12 pupils has a teacher and at least one Learning Support Assistant; they get to know their class really well as they teach them for about half of the week and they also deliver the Personal, Social and Health Education lessons.  We also have a Thrive specialist who promotes a Thrive approach across the school and also offers small group and individual sessions. This person is part of the Pastoral Support Team which is managed by an Assistant Head Teacher.

How do we support children and young people with special educational needs moving between phases of education and preparing for adulthood?

This is a strength of our school. One of our main aims is to prepare pupils for adult life and hopefully the world of work. We have developed programmes on Life-Skills and vocational skills from the age of 11, have a wide choice of quality vocational options from 14 and have a sixth form with the specific aim of helping students to maximise their employment chances. We have good links with many employers and local businesses, we employ our own careers adviser and an experienced staff team of teachers and job coaches.

What other support is available for children and young people with special educational needs and how can they access it?

Outside of the school offer, other services are listed in the Torbay Directory available from the Council Office.

What extra-curricular activities are available for children and young people with special educational needs?

After school activities are difficult due to the transport network, which takes pupils home at 3.30pm. We offer a full programme of lunchtime clubs and we have a full residential visits programme. We also enter three teams in the annual Ten Tors event, visit theatres both locally and in London, visit the World Skills event at the NEC and many vocational events such as the Hair Show, café exhibition, motor show etc.

How do we assess and review progress towards agreed outcomes, and how are parents, children and young people involved in this process?

Through regular parents evenings, the annual review process, by telephone and other meetings to discuss any issue involving a pupil. Our pastoral support team will do home visits and can collect and return parents if there are transport difficulties.

How do we assess the effectiveness of our special needs provision and how are parents, children and young people involved in this assessment?

We regularly review our work and we are subject to OFSTED inspection. We collect information from parents and pupils through an annual survey and are happy to receive advice and feedback at any time.

How do we ensure that teaching staff and other staff have the expertise needed to support children and young people with special educational needs?

We have a good record of staff training, often helping to fund staff wishing to undertake additional qualifications (eg degrees). We are mindful that as staff gain promotion elsewhere we need to be preparing the next group to help lead and manage the school. We enable teachers to receive specialist subject training and updates by attendance at local groups and visits to other schools. We provide a wide range of in-school training opportunities.

How can parents, children and young people make a complaint about our provision?

Our complaints procedure is available on our website or a paper copy can be obtained from the school office on request.

How can parents, children and young people get more information about the setting?

Look at the website first if possible, then ring and make an appointment to visit!