Ms Nell Nicholson


Dr Kajetan Kasinski


020 7794 3353

Working together for learning and development

Gloucester House Users Blog

A collection of blogs from our headteacher and other Gloucester House users

Spring Term at Gloucester House

Nell Nicholson

Sorry not to have written on the blog for a while...thanks to those of you that came to the parent/carer day. I hope you enjoyed your time in class and found the letters and sounds meeting useful...

The children have been enjoying their work on ancient civilisations. I will post some work to show what they've been doing.

Next week is world book day (2nd March). We have received book tokens to take them to the bookshop and will do lots of work on books and stories so hopefully some favourites will come into school to be shared.

More coming soon!!

Pappa Stig writes about appearing in 'Last Chance School'

Gloucester House comms

An unprecedented number of children in the UK are being diagnosed and treated for a mental health disorder. The Channel 4 documentary 'Last Chance School', part of the Kids on the Edge series, follows three of these children at the Tavistock and Portman’s day unit, Gloucester House.

One of the students the film follows is 11 year-old Josh, in his last term at the school. Josh was adopted when he was 6 years old, but his traumatic early years have been worked with in his time at the school. After three years at Gloucester House, his parents (Stig and Phill) and the staff at Gloucester House hope he is ready to move on to a mainstream secondary school.

Stig writes a blog about their journey as a family, including their decision to appear in the documentary. Read the blog post on the Pappa Stig website


What's In Your Headset?

Gloucester House comms

Rachael Causer writes:

We live in an ever more incredible world where the possibilities of disappearing into virtual worlds, becoming "other" people and living in imaginary landscapes are closer to hand than ever before. When an audience watched the first film, depicting a train rushing towards the camera, it's reported that they ran from the cinema, terrified they were going to be hit! The developments in online gaming and the advances in CGI mean that almost anything we can dream up can become "real", and today the spectacle of people wearing total virtual reality suits is a reality.

Against this backdrop, and inspired by these ideas, I worked with children from Gloucester House Day Unit, exploring memory and imagination and experimenting with creating an equivalent of the virtual reality headset - using cardboard! The children made their own ‘headsets’ containing tiny worlds or scenes from inside their heads. 

Using a variety of materials including recycled cardboard boxes, tubes and welding masks they created characters, planets, under the sea worlds, spiders, cinemas, imaginary landscapes, houses and insects.

The work was incredible and formed part of the pop-up art exhibition at Gloucester House last week.

Click on the image below to see more from the gallery

Rachael Causer is an artist living and working in London. Much of her practice is concerned with the overlooked. Working across a range of media, that encompasses textiles based practices and photography, she explores materials and processes to examine our relationship with objects, with a particular interest in the domestic. Often working in series: collections of photographed abandoned mattresses; reflections of buildings in puddles; a taxonomy of repaired "lost" socks, she is interested in developing new understanding about our relationship to everyday things and, especially, notions of repair and re-use. Much of her work is about social engagement, developing projects that invite participation and collaboration.

She is the artist in residence at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, where she works with patient groups, staff, students and visitors. You can find out more about her work at the Trust here:

Parent/carer afternoon November 8th

Nell Nicholson

Thank you so much to those of you that came. I thought the children and staff did a great job welcoming you with an art gallery - showing you the work they did with Rachel Causer (Tavi resident artist). I think she will be adding a blog entry to give you some more details and pictures....and a pop up café showing you their money skills, cooking skills, team work skills and practising for the world of work skills...not to mention delicious food and smoothies!....and e safety presentations showing you parents/carers the children's knowledge and experience of e safety plus practising their presentation skills....and finally a bookshop to purchase books and to raise money for Children in Need!

I know Robin also gave an informative talk to support parents/carers with e safety at home. All the presentations will be available on this website very soon!

In the parent/carer meeting we also talked about uniform and I will write a letter to about what we agreed soon...and a new parent rep for Gloucester House. I'm glad we had some interest in the role and again I will write to parents soon with details about this.

E-safety presentations

e-safety – a multi-generational approac

e-safety for kids

Leeloo's e-safety presentation

Watch this space for more about the art gallery!

Lego Communication Therapy

Gloucester House comms

Welcome back to the new school year. I can’t believe it’s almost half term already! 

This is Laura, Speech and Language Therapist, and I wanted to tell you about how Lego Communication Therapy is going this term. 

For people who haven’t heard much about Lego therapy, you can find out more about it at http://www.legotherapy.com/ or I can send you some more information if you contact me on laura.mclean@nhs.net.

This term, children have been able to do Lego therapy sessions more regularly and have been doing sessions with Therapeutic Support Workers in their classroom.

Children have had fun building lots of models together, including a frog, flamingo, cars, planes and a sheep! Children have been showing their work and what they have built in work share circle time on Fridays, and children who have built a model in a team with another child in their class, have appreciated being rewarded with ‘Lego Communication’ certificates with a picture of the model they built. One of the children said in circle time ‘I built this flamingo. At first I didn’t know what it was, and it was really hard to build, but then I could see it was a bird. It was fun.’

The children are often very motivated by the challenge of building a specific lego model, they have to be extra motivated because it has to be built through speaking and listening – one person (the architect) describes the bricks and what to build and the other person/people (supplier and builder) have to listen to and follow the instructions. 

Lego therapy sessions give the children a really great opportunity to work specifically on their speaking, listening, social communication and resilience when communicating, and an opportunity to think about how they are feeling and what strategies they will use to help them stay calm even when the speaking and listening part of the task gets very challenging and frustrating. The ‘incredible 5 point scale’, alert strategies and mindfulness strategies all support them with this.

Lego five point scale

Lego five point scale

End of term

Nell Nicholson

So we come to the end of another eventful academic year. I know parents/carers and children received the termly newsletter full of work and articles about what we've been doing.

Here is the letter I wrote for the newsletter:

Dear Parents/Carers, 

Such a busy, busy year! But time always flies at Gloucester House. It has been great getting to know so many new parents/carers and to see you getting to know each other. 

I know you had a good chat yesterday after the wonderful film premiere of the children’s individual films. I hope you liked the films. Any of you who didn’t get the chance to see them, please feel free to get in contact as we are happy to show them to you – and of course you will also all be getting your child’s individual film. What I liked was that Pete and Emily had really listened to the children’s individual interests and helped them make films that really reflected that. 

Stig told me that one of things you talked about over lunch was thinking about a new parent/carer representative as his son is moving on. He also told me that you had talked about uniform. I know we talked about it before and he said many of you are keen for us to get a uniform for Gloucester House.  

We talked about this in School Council today and the children had some very creative ideas. There were very mixed views about uniform – some children saying they wanted blazers and ties, some saying they wanted no uniform and some saying different coloured clothes with logos that you could Velcro or sew on. So we will make sure we talk about this in our first parent/carer meeting of the term.  

Stig’s other feedback is that you say you are generally very happy with our service but would like the more notice of events. We will send out the annual calendar in September and make sure we give as much notice as possible.

Enjoy the newsletter and we hope you have a good summer holiday with your children 

Best wishes

Nell Nicholson

Also the Outcome Report will come out in the Autumn so I will post the most recent outcome data then.

Now to sign off for August - back in September!


Mindfulness graduation

Gloucester House comms

We had our first mindfulness graduation group last term!! Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention to our experience as it unfolds moment by moment. Mindfulness is an invitation to explore how we are feeling and be curious about how we react to different situations. Mindfulness helps us respond to situations rather than reacting to them. Children have learnt about different parts of the brain and how they work. 

Our graduates have learnt how the amygdala reacts automatically in response to perceived threats. Its job is to keep us safe, but sometimes it gets in the way of making wise choices. They have also learnt how the prefrontal cortex makes choices, pays attention and therefore helps us learn more. They also know how the hippocampus helps us with our memory and to remember things (linking old and new experiences) and how the insula helps us recognise how our body state is (tired, hungry etc.) and helps us to tune in to how other people are. Our graduates have learnt breathing techniques, such as the petal practise and the body scan, to help them when they are feeling anxious, angry or stress. 

We were really proud of all of them during the graduation ceremony and they have obtained their Paws B certificate. 

Arriving and leaving....and writing workshop

Nell Nicholson

When I observed in Panda Class the children were writing on the theme of arriving and leaving. I will post some of their work with their permission next week. We have been focusing on extending writing a bit more and this is showing in some of the recent enthusiasm for writing in Gloucester House.

We are running a weekly writing workshop in which the children choose either song writing, comics, storytelling or free writing. This seems to have piqued children's interest in writing and we have lots of budding writers making and writing books on all sorts of themes. I look forward to posting some extracts next week.

Claire has also been using her last few weeks before she goes on maternity leave to run small writing groups which the children are equally engaged in. One child told another one. 'Make sure you go with Claire. I don't usually like writing but Claire's sessions are AWESOME!!'

We have had a tough week at Gloucester House though. Despite the fun of 'no pens day den day' and climbing for the KS3 young people there have been a lot of difficult feelings around . We went through the end of term calendar with the children last Monday and I think they got a bit overwhelmed by the thought of the people who are leaving, the new people who are coming and the changes ahead for September.

I will write to parents/carers about this next week but if any of you read the blog it would be great if you talk to your children about this...

Coming soon....mindfulness graduates at Gloucester House and no pens day den day pictures!

Avon Tyrrell April 2016 - guest blog from the children

Gloucester House comms

My name is D, my age 12. I have been to Avon Tyrell 3 times. I had fun on the zip wire it was best. Before I was scared to go up.  I managed to do it then I felt amazing. 

My name is L I am 11 years old I have been to Avon Tyrrell four times. That’s more times than most teachers. Avon Tyrrell has great activities.

I am A I am 8 years old.  I went to Avon Tyrell in April, it was the second time I had been.  During our time there I did kayaking. Me and Robin played tag it was fun.  I had not done Kayaking before but now I’ve done it I feel really proud. I also had fun mountain bikingI was a bit scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I used one of their trikes it was fast as sonic. I had to really lay back while I road it

Hello my name is H I am 10 years old I have been to Avon Tyrrell three times.

My favourite activity is swimming it was fun because Nell helped me swimming. I felt scared putting my face in the water, when I managed it I was glad and felt proud

I also did kayaking It was so fun I liked it because I kept crashing into my friend and Shar.

My name is B. I am 11 years old.

Every year our school goes to Avon Tyrrell outdoors activity centre. I have been to Avon Tyrrell twice and I would say each time is better than the last. I did kayaking which at first I was reluctant to do but it was good. I also did bush craft we made doughnuts on a campfire made by wood we collected. Overall Avon Tyrrell was a great experience.

my Avon Tyrrellby D.  I enjoyed going to the park and playing the game

My Avon Tyrell by J.  I have had many good times at Avon Tyrell although my last time was not so good I still want to thank everyone. My best Avon Tyrell activity was the archery; me and my friend were very good at it.

Hi my name is S. I am 12 years old

I’ve been to Avon Tyrrell 3 times.

My favourite activity was swimming because it was so fun swimming with my friends and we played with the beach ball and tag to. It was so cold getting in and out but it was worth it for the fun.

We also did archery and it was my first time and it was so fun. I beat the instructors and the adults that where with me it felt great to beat the instructor and it was my first time too.

SATs week finished - phew!

Nell Nicholson

The children involved did brilliantly. They stayed focused and managed themselves expertly. They were able to talk about the exam pressure but challenge themselves to stay with it anyway. We are very proud of them, and their ability to rise to a challenge like that is much more important than the actual results...

We thought some of the papers were particularly hard and are curious to see how other children managed these tests too...

Back from Avon Tyrrell

Nell Nicholson

A week back now. We've had a Steering Group meeting this week thinking about the progress and developments this year including our outreach service and changes to Gloucester House.

Yesterday we had an Avon Tyrrell circle time. We reminisced about all the fun activities and the things we learned about ourselves and each other..we also gave out achievement certificates. Congratluations to our first, second and third place house point winners. You should be very proud of yourselves!

Although it's been a bit of an adjustment coming back it's been a good week. Nice to welcome new children into the community and see children who didn't come with us.. Some of the year 6 children are preparing for SATs the week after next and we're all looking forward to the rest of the summer term and spending a bit more time out and about.

Apparently the children are writing blog entries in ICT ...so watch this space!

Oh no whole term without a post!!

Nell Nicholson

New term resolution is to keep up sharing our news on the blog! We have had a very busy term with settling in to our new classes and moving the nurture space to the hall. Also more recently the pod has moved into the nurture space and Dolphin class now has an annexe which the children have named 'the cove'.

We only had a week to start using the new spaces before we went on our residential to Avon Tyrrel activity centre. Most of the community went but not quite everyone so we are looking forward to sharing stories and thinking about how we worked and collaborated together on the trip that could help us work and play together back at Gloucester House.

This year we did bush craft and learned to light fire with flints and cooked some DELICIOUS doughnuts on the fire we made. Other highlights were the zip wire and pedalos....

This term the children will be doing writing workshop on Wednesdays at 11 so hopefully we can add some of their work to the blog - and certainly for the next newsletter.

Children have also been making films with Century Films. Some of these are animations so perhaps we will be able to add them to the website

Gloucester House Winter Festival

Gloucester House comms

On the 16th and 17th December, Gloucester House children, parents, carers and staff came together to celebrate the winter festival.

This special coming together, involved a performance from each of the three classes in the school. So many people spoke about how impressed and moved they were to see the children performing so well, and there were quite a few tears from families and staff alike! Performances involved music, dancing, poetry and acting.

Staff also led craft groups which included card, lantern and bubble bath making. It was heartening to see everyone joining in together so well and one of the parents commented on how it felt like being back at school (in a fun way of course!).

The parents all had lunch together prior to the performance, which is always an important part of our parent/carer involvement. Staff at Gloucester House have always received feedback from families about how much they appreciate and value having some time together.   

No winter festival is ever complete without some fairy magic, and this year Santa came accompanied by the sugar plumb fairy herself. Both were greeted with much excitement by the children, and also looked vaguely familiar…

John Forrester
Clinical Nurse Specialist