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About Us

Cherry Tree School

'A school can become a surrogate 'secure base' which can contain the inevitable anxiety engendered by the challenges of learning. School can provide compensatory relationships and experiences to pupils whose capacities to learn have been impaired by adverse emotional and social experiences.'

Heather Geddes, Attachment in the Classroom, 2012.

Cherry Tree has been designed to meet the needs of pupils who present with mental health issues which has stopped them from accessing long term education or who have struggled to fit into the education models available to them. Cherry Tree specialises in pupils who need time to settle, need space to thrive and need patience and support to achieve. A highly experienced staff team will work together with all relevant agencies to ensure that an individualised education package is shaped around each pupil. This will ensure that in time, they can reach their potential academically, while building their emotional stability and resilience.

'Children have different experiences even at the same school and that for well-being 'child school' fit is as important as attending a 'good' school.'

Gutman and Feinstein 2008, cited in Office for National Statistics Insights into children's mental health and well – being, 2015.

Mental health and ongoing difficulties can present in many ways, both verbally, non-verbally and through various behaviours and so each individual situation will be discussed thoroughly to ensure that Cherry Tree can give the best possible fit for a pupil. Understanding their holistic needs means that the most effective strategies can be put in place to promote their growth and aid their progression. All strategies and individual plans will flow and adapt to the ongoing needs of the pupils.

Reflective practice and staff development is an integral part of Cherry Tree life and underpins much of what we do. Regular meetings with external experienced and qualified professionals ensure that we remain up to date in our knowledge and add to our expertise to provide the best possible teaching and learning environment for our pupils.

'There is evidence that suggests that a whole school approach is important as it ensures that mental health and well-being is embedded within the culture and processes of the school, and also ensures that they work with partners in health, the voluntary sector etc. to provide mental health support for those most in need'.

House of Commons Education Committee, Mental Health and well-being of looked-after children, 2016.

Our Ethos and Intentions


Our school ethos is to value all pupil's skills and abilities beyond the cognitive. Pupils voices are valued and are at the heart of, and a part of every decision we make. Cherry Tree will strive to be innovative to meet the diverse, emotional and aesthetic needs of all pupils. We will endeavour to build mutually respectful relationships so that pupils feel appreciated and noticed. We believe in encouraging pupils to take learning risks and explore the world around them which in turn enables them to feel more positive about their learning and their future. The character, personality, individuality, awareness and resilience of each pupil is encouraged and developed, thereby promoting a healthy and enjoyable approach to learning and to life.

We will do this through our Intentions

At Cherry Tree we will ensure, through our considered intentions, that:

  • Our pupils are the focus of everything we do
  • Our pupils are inspired and stretched to achieve the success they are capable of
  • Our pupils are encouraged to adopt the responsibilities that go with their rights
  • Our pupils are encouraged to adopt healthier and safer lifestyle options
  • Our staff establish rich, diverse and stimulating learning environments for all
  • Our staff provide ongoing choices, challenges and encourage initiative
  • Our staff provide opportunities in a safe and happy environment
  • Our staff will ensure that opportunities are local, national and international
  • Our staff demonstrate a commitment to equality of opportunity
  • We let you know what the pupils are doing each step of the way
  • We let you know the pupil's base line in core subjects
  • We let you know regularly what they achieve and how they are progressing
  • We let you know how they are progressing in relation to their peers
  • We expect and maintain high standards in every aspect of school life and for it to be evident in behaviour and attitudes of all pupils
  • We will promote the professional development of all staff and volunteers

What People Say About Us

We are always evolving regarding the best ways forward with our pupils.

We have embedded a culture of trust and security for both pupils and staff. The pupils feel safe and happy at school.

They miss school when they are not here which is a credit to the staff and leaders. I think the school goes over and above with the young people both in working hours and out of hours support.

Staff member December 2019

It's amazing. I was very nervous before I started and didn't want to mess up. It is what I thought it was going to be but thought it was too good to be true!

Pupil January 2020

I am more confident in my work and will now give it a go when I would not before.

Pupil January 2020

The school involves parents and carers in all decisions that involve the child

Carer December 2019

I was getting into fights and arguments before and now I don't ever Not want to go to school at Cherry Tree. Other schools had given up

Pupil January 2020

Providing a safe environment in which to learn, making the children's opinions and views matter, promoting confidence, a complete holistic approach, tailoring around the children's individual needs and ability, promoting learning independence, communication between school and home is amazing, fantastic caring staff. -- has gone from strength to strength at this amazing school.

Carer December 2019

Every member of staff are aware of the young people's needs and issues and are able to manage them in a patient and tolerant way. The young people are treated as individuals and given huge respect.

Home Manager, March 2018

Great pastoral care. A strong love for the child and will for them to succeed.

Foster Carer, March 2018

Can I thank you and your staff for the support you are providing to... it's great to see them engaging again. I was also proud of their achievements and the level of work they showed me when I attended their last CLA review. It is obvious they are enjoying being in education.

Team Manager, Jan 2018

If more people in the world had your approach, drive and determination to do the right thing for children, it would be a much better place. Your team clearly share your ethos.

Education Co-ordinator, Feb 2018

The management and staff are exceptional at this school, dedicated and hard working.

Foster Carer, Mar 2018

I think it's the best school I've ever been to.

Pupil, Term 2

I've been in many educational provisions and this is the only one that has worked for me'.

Pupil, Term 4

The School's strengths:

  • Staff’s passion to encourage learning and positive experiences
  • Staff go above and beyond support
  • The drive from the senior leaders is inspiring
  • Communication and allowing staff autonomy for teaching whilst promoting teamwork
  • A strong sense of collaboration
  • Focused on pupil academic and holistic progression
  • High expectations for learning and behaviour
  • (Various staff, March 2018)

Various staff, March 2018

I have worked with Soo Finn professionally for over 14 years, both as a colleague and education advisor, mostly recently in an independent school for 'looked-after' children with attachment issues and complex needs and consequent serious psychological and behavioural difficulties. Soo is very creative in her thinking and developing of both staff and pupils and works tirelessly to create an exciting and differentiated curriculum and activities to motivate and engage hard to reach pupils and young people. The school was deemed to be 'outstanding' as a result of the hard work and dedication of Soo, as recognised by myself and a consultant Ofsted inspector. Soo is an outstanding leader of a school, with an expertise in vulnerable, hard to reach learners of any age and has shown over the years to be able to engage these children in education and give them a positive outlook for their future.

Retired Ofsted Additional Inspector, Retired Deputy Principal of a specialist school and college, and Education Consultant and Advisor 2017

Meet the Team

Headteacher and Director

Soo Finn BA Hons, NPQH

Soo Finn - Cherry Tree Education

Soo is a qualified and experienced headteacher who has worked with many vulnerable children and young people for over 25 years, including those who have mental health issues, learning disabilities and challenging behaviours, homeless young people, young offenders and children and young people who misuse drugs and alcohol.

One of the key factors that has driven Soo's career was an early recognition that many of these children and young people had negative learning experiences at school and were often excluded. Her career first took the path into education when she set up her own training company and completed her Cert Ed. Soo then went on to gain a BA Hons in Education and Training and completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship with outstanding feedback.

She has worked for, and alongside various organisations including the Voluntary and Charitable Sector, The Prince's Trust and Kent Police. Soo was also involved in a multi-national project in France which brought together children and young people from Britain, France and Turkey. Soo set up and led an Alternative Education Provision through two ‘Good with Outstanding Features' Ofsted inspections and led the same team to win a Gold Award for Innovation in Education. Since then Soo has worked as a Headteacher in an independent school and led a staff team to change an ‘adequate' school into an outstanding ‘Ofsted ready' school (pre-Ofsted inspection report March 2017).

In her spare time Soo enjoys upcycling, gardening and is writing a book about her life experiences.

School Operations Manager and Director

Emma Brown QTLS

Emma Brown - Cherry Tree Education

Emma has worked with vulnerable children and young people for over 20 years in various capacities including youth work, coaching and tutoring. Emma has completed the Diploma for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector and went on to gain her QTLS accreditation.

Throughout her career she has attended various training events and conferences related to children and young people with behavioural, social and learning difficulties.

Emma was part of an education team that won a Gold Award for Innovation in Education and after this went on to complete a Diploma in First Line Management while employed as a School Operations Manager in an Alternative Education Provision. Within this role Emma was a key figure in the Senior Leadership Team that led the provision through two ‘Good with Outstanding Features' Ofsted inspections.

Emma has recently played a senior role in changing a school from adequate into being an ‘outstanding' Ofsted ready school. Emma has a vast amount of experience in ensuring EHC Plans are in place for all pupils that need them. In her personal time Emma enjoys rugby, metal detecting and walking.

Management Committee Chair

Deborah Bridger MA Hons

Deborah Bridger - Cherry Tree Education

Debbie initially started her career in industry, working for 10 years across a range of departments, including spending 6 months working in Germany and then working as a Marketing Manager, having obtained an honours degree in Business Studies.

Debbie has two children, one of whom has severe learning and physical disabilities. This led her into the start of a new career in education, working at first with people and children with special educational needs.

Debbie obtained a Certificate in Education and a Certificate in Special Needs Education and a Masters Degree in Education, studying curriculum and assessment and diversity in education.

Debbie became a teacher trainer, specialising in special needs education and teaching on a range of courses, including the Certificate in Education and honours degree in Education and Training.

Debbie then moved on to working in Alternative Education for young people excluded from school, with responsibility for quality and curriculum across the county. Debbie became an Ofsted additional inspector 10 years ago and was trained to inspect all schools, including independent schools. For the last 6 years of her full time career, Debbie became Deputy Principal (Quality and Curriculum) of a specialist school and college, both of which moved from a previous satisfactory grade to good in that time.

Since her retirement, Debbie volunteers as an Independent School Management Committee Chair and also works part time as an Education consultant. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys gardening and various arts and crafts and spending time with her family.

Cherry Tree Term Dates (2019/20)

  • TERM 1 – 2nd September 2019 – 18th October 2019 (staff due back 28th, 29th & 30th August 2019 for staff training)
  • TERM 2 – 4th November 2019 – 18th December 2019
  • TERM 3 – 6th January 2020 – 14th February 2020
  • TERM 4 – 24th February 2020 – 1st April 2020
  • TERM 5 – 16th April 2020 – 22nd May 2020 (staff due back 14th April)
  • TERM 6 – 8th June 2020 – 29th July 2020

N.B. the first day back for pupils for Term 1 2020 – 2021 will be 3rd September 2020.

Bank Holidays 2019 – 2020:

  • 25th & 26th December 2019
  • 1st January 2020
  • 10th and 13th April 2020
  • 4th and 25th May 2020
  • 31st August 2020

Cherry Tree Term Dates (2020/21)

  • TERM 1 for pupils 1st September 2020 – 23rd October 2020
  • (INSET DAYS for staff 27th & 28th August 2020)
  • TERM 2 – 9th November 2020 – 18th December 2020
  • TERM 3 – 4th January 2021 – 12th February 2021
  • TERM 4 – 22nd February 2021 – 1st April 2021
  • TERM 5 – 19th April 2021 – 28th May 2021
  • TERM 6 – for pupils 14th June 2021 – 28th July 2021
  • (INSET DAY for staff 29th July 2021)

N.B. first day back for pupils for Term 1 2021-2022 is 1st September 2021

(INSET DAYS for staff 26th, 27th and 31st August 2021

Bank Holidays not included in term times above:

  • Monday 3rd May 2021

Pupil's Corner

This is our Pupil's Corner where pupils choose pieces of work they would like displayed on the website. We hope you enjoy looking at them!

Gallery Image - Collage
Gallery Image - LGBT
Gallery Image - Diary
Gallery Image - Free Writing
Gallery Image - Fundraising
Gallery Image - Poem
Gallery Image - Tangent
Gallery Image - A Christmas Carol
Gallery Image - Art Work With Shading
Gallery Image - Bar Charts
Gallery Image - Working With Shapes
Gallery Image - Book Review

Ofsted Report 2018


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