Childhood First

Thornby Hall Information and Communication Technology Centre

To improve Information and Communication Technology facilities at Thornby Hall School to help young people with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties access the curriculum and develop the skills they need to compete in today’s computerised world.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to

Registered Charity in England and Wales (286909)





  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



The ability to form healthy relationships is determined almost from birth and is vital for a child’s physical, emotional and social development. For most young children, their primary needs (for warmth, protection and nourishment) are consistently met and as a result they feel secure and loved. These children are able to form positive relationships with their carers from birth and this forms a healthy foundation from which they can grow. Sadly, other children are not so lucky. They may experience inconsistent care or inappropriate responses from adults around them and as a result they never learn to relate positively with people around them. Such incidents of neglect or abuse have a profound effect on a child’s development and can result in severe emotional and behavioural disturbance as they struggle to make sense of their world, and in some cases, struggle to survive. “Human relationships and the effects of relationships on relationships are the building blocks of healthy development. “From the moment of conception to the finality of death, intimate and caring relationships are the fundamental mediators of successful human adaptation.” A gap in provision At any one time in the UK, 60,000 children are in care and 80% of these cases are due to abuse or neglect. Around 4,000 of these children are severely traumatised. They can experience psychological disturbance and engage in chaotic and dangerous, or wholly passive and inert behaviours to communicate their profound distress. Whilst children lack the skills to relate positively to others, government preferred fostering and family-based solutions simply will not work. These, along with short term measures such as secure units and medication, do nothing to attend to the cause of children’s distress and whilst this remains untreated, children will spiral further out of control. This impacts upon both the individual and wider society, as many end up spending a lifetime in the psychiatric or penal service and remain a constant threat to both themselves and others. Introducing Thornby Hall Thornby Hall, part of the children’s charity Childhood First, provides residential care, education and treatment for 20 young people aged 12-19 from across the UK, who suffer severe emotional and behavioural disturbance, as a result of early life trauma. Our therapeutic approach focuses on the cause of young people’s distress, which is found in the breakdown of relationships with others. We provide a safe, nurturing environment where young people can discuss and work through extreme and often terrifying emotions, make sense of the past and look forward to a future in which they can take responsibility for their own lives. Underpinning our whole way of working is that by providing a group setting to explore these feelings young people can learn to develop relationships with adults and peers. For our young people, we are often the last hope after they have exhausted all other avenues and, in some cases, after they have experienced up to 30 failed placements in just one year. Supporting education Most of our young people have suffered severe disruption to their education. Many have been excluded; others have simply never had the opportunity for formal schooling in their relentless journey from ‘pillar to post’. Some have more specific learning difficulties and come to us with a statement of special educational needs. At Thornby Hall School no children are excluded. Instead our therapeutic approach enables all to achieve and experience success, often for the first time, thus building confidence and self esteem. All young people are given individual attention and have access to the full National Curriculum at a level that meets their needs. Our dedicated teaching staff are supported by consultant educational psychologists to help identify and address specific learning difficulties. Information and Communication Technology – a tool for life Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become increasingly important within the school curriculum helping young people to develop the skills they need to participate and compete in today’s technological age. As well as a subject in its own right, ICT also supports learning in other curriculum subjects, and is invaluable in the teaching of children with special needs. Whilst Thornby Hall offers a high standard of education to all pupils, its range of ICT equipment is extremely limited. As a result, pupils are in danger of falling behind and those with specific needs are not getting the most from their studies. The current computers are very old and as a result slow and increasingly unreliable. Furthermore, they are unable to run more sophisticated software packages, which are so helpful in engaging and supporting pupils with special educational needs. In addition, none of the computers in the school are currently networked. This means that when pupils save work onto a particular computer it cannot be accessed on any other PC. Improving ICT facilities at Thornby Hall School Childhood First is seeking support to improve information and communications technology at Thornby Hall School. A full budget detailing our requirements and an estimate of costs is provided. The new equipment will bring the following benefits to young people in our care:  Young people will be able to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in the use of ICT preparing them to use such technologies in their everyday and working lives.  All pupils, including those with specific learning needs, will be able to work with increasing independence and present work of a high standard.  Our young people will have better access to the internet providing them with improved opportunities to research topics and produce high quality work. This is particularly important for our older students who are producing coursework for external examinations and those studying for further education qualifications at the local college.  Interactive whiteboards have been shown to be particularly useful in teaching pupils of all ages, and especially those with special needs. This technology enables pupils to absorb information more easily and provides a fun and creative method of teaching which helps hold pupils’ attention.  Specialist software will help improve teaching and also meet specific educational needs. For example, software that ‘reads out’ written text or provides phonetic spell checks can help pupils with dyslexia to manage reading and writing difficulties.  The new classroom PCs can be used to deliver lessons which meet pupils’ individual needs. For example, two pupils could carry out different activities appropriate to their ability level on the computers, whilst others receive dedicated support from the teacher. Monitoring and Evaluation: The programme is closely monitored and evaluated by the staff and Thornby Hall. The educational needs and aspirations of our young people are assessed and individual targets set and monitored against. The main targets and verifiable indicators are listed below: Target  Beneficiaries possess the necessary levels of ICT skill to enrol in higher education courses. Indicator:  Ratio of students who enrol in further education courses, that would have previously been faced the problem of lack of pertinent ICT knowledge and skill Target  Young people possessing the necessary ICT knowledge to find and keep a skilled job. Indicator  Number of students who find gainfully employment in jobs where a degree of ICT knowledge is necessary (nearly all skilled labour jobs today). Target  All students at Thornby Hall possessing a rounded knowledge of basic information communication technology processes. Indicator  Students’ familiarity with ICT processes and equipment. This data will be gathered, assimilated and assessed, by using our new in-house research tools which allow us to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to monitor the progress and development of children through their placement, and up to two years after they leave. Young people and staff contribute to the data and outcomes are measured against the government’s Every Child Matters objectives, which include being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic wellbeing.