SEND and high-needs learners

We believe we can deliver truly transformative education for learners of all abilities.

Our Learning Philosophy has had a profound impact on how we have shaped our approach to delivering education to learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and high-needs learners. 

Our Ofsted rated Outstanding High-needs provision was recognised for the impact it had on learners’ lives during our recent inspection in November 2022.

The Brain element of the Learning Philosophy emphasises the importance of cognitive development and critical thinking in learning. Activate Learning recognises that each learner is unique and has different needs, particularly those with SEND and high needs. With our SEND and high need learners, we are taking an individualised approach to their learning experience, focusing on their strengths and creating opportunities for them to develop their cognitive abilities. 

The way we approach teaching and learning for high-needs and SEND learners is a testament to the power of the Learning Philosophy and our belief that we can deliver truly transformative education for learners of all abilities. Through our commitment to providing a positive, inclusive, and supportive learning environment, we are proving that with the right approach, every learner can thrive and achieve their full potential.

Michelle Parks

Michelle Parks, Group Director, Activate Learning, responsible for our Lifeskills faculty, outlines why the Learning Philosophy has been so important in achieving such remarkable outcomes:

“Working within the framework of the Learning Philosophy allows us to think about what the learner needs to ensure that they can develop in all areas. That is the culture of Lifeskills; that you do whatever you need to do to ensure that learner can succeed. The Learning Philosophy is really inspirational for us in helping to achieve the success we have.”

“We put the learner at the heart of every single decision we make and as a result we know our learners really well. It starts with a really good assessment, where we look at their needs and what opportunities we can provide for them. From there, we plan a curriculum around those individual learners’ needs. We don’t plan the curriculum around the programme they are studying, it’s always around the learner.”

And it’s not just about the way that we work with our learners as Michelle points out, but also the way the Lifeskills faculty has used the Learning Philosophy to work and engage with staff.

“The Lifeskills way is to work with our staff like we work with our learners. So we believe that all of our staff have the potential to develop in any areas they want to develop in and we proactively encourage that.

 “We don’t see it as a limitation that our faculty area has the highest turnover of staff of any faculty, as that high turn over is directly related to the fact that we develop and train so many of our team, that opportunities are created for them to move into other roles. But we think that’s great and testament to our Learning Philosophy- led approach.”

Ella Povey - Learning Philosophy in Action


Ella Povey is a dedicated GCL practitioner, GCSE teacher and ESOL teacher who strongly advocates for their institution's holistic learning philosophy. She emphasises the importance of emotional awareness and motivation, particularly for students facing emotional challenges and diverse backgrounds.

Ella's approach aims to create a comfortable learning environment, fostering self-belief and encouraging questions, ultimately preparing students not just for qualifications but for overall success. Her passion is deeply rooted in her work with diverse students, including refugees and asylum seekers, whom she supports emotionally and intellectually on their educational journey.

Our curriculum

The way our curriculum and its associated materials, have been developed, allows the teachers to deliver a more personalised and responsive experience for learners. This has been evidenced in learner surveys conducted with 563 of our GCSE cohort, where students gave us an average score of 4.8 out of 5 in a satisfaction survey and a 4.7 for the emotional support we provided.

The Learning Philosophy looks at the dynamic between the brain, motivation, and emotions in learning. So, the way we deliver our online learning is designed to support our learners’ growth and development, with constant, timely feedback that is specific to the areas where they need to improve.