The Head of the new The Moat Sixth Form for young people with SEN, Steve Proctor, discusses successes and challenges overcome in a uniquely testing school year for students, staff and parents

When the idea for The Moat Sixth Form came around and the wheels started turning, it was 2018. The idea was for a dedicated space where pupils with dyslexia and other associated learning difficulties could not only learn, but also grow into young adults. They would come to us following their GCSE exams and hope to achieve far beyond what they had imagined.

Initially, The Moat Sixth Form started as a space for pupils from The Moat School. Here they could continue their education in a more mature and independent setting, but still experience the high level of pastoral support, therapy and counselling that has evolved over the years with our well-established secondary school. As the idea expanded this has become a Sixth Form for pupils from multiple London Boroughs who have struggled in secondary settings to gain the qualifications and life skills they need to achieve in larger colleges.

The small, close-knit teaching team and Specialist Support staff have created an adult learning environment that is purposeful and supportive, while still being fun and interesting. All the pupils at the Sixth Form have a diagnosed learning difficulty; the most common to date has been Autism. Our unique nature – as the only Specialist SEN Sixth Form in central London – has meant we have attracted student interest from as far away as Essex.

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Steve Proctor says the demand for a specialist SEN sixth form has been beyond all expectations – and the school is offering a route to post 16 qualifications for young people who struggle to thrive in mainstream schools

Our opening cohort has experienced the most challenging Year 11 imaginable, having been placed into lockdown in March 2020 and had life paused at such a challenging time, as they prepared for exams and transition away from school life. We have found ourselves inundated with potential students who, alongside their special needs, have been experiencing a crisis in confidence and mental health as a result of the sudden changes to their plans because of Covid-19.

As we came out of lockdown, we were able to move out the builders and replace them with students and parents on physical tours of the site – so important for these unsettled students to help them decide if we could be the best place to help them achieve their aspirations.

“Our approach allows for a well-balanced setting for pupils to grow and express themselves in preparation for whatever may come after the Sixth Form”

Recruiting new staff was another challenge during 2020, but the highly talented and experienced core team who joined us have created an environment representative of Central London. They are working to help prepare our students to take their next steps when it comes to moving on from our Sixth Form. The idea of building a community within our central London location and being able to ask for help and to help others is integral to the ethos of The Moat Sixth form and this is echoed throughout our curriculum and our enrichment programme.

Our approach allows for a well-balanced setting for pupils to grow and express themselves in preparation for whatever may come after the Sixth Form.  As part of our academic offer, we have included Life Skills lessons which are focused on building resilience, preparing for adulthood and developing money management skills. This valuable provision is in partnership with the therapeutic work of Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists. This extra support, in conjunction with all that our curriculum offers, is giving our students the best of provisions in the most troubling of times.

To find out more about The Moat Sixth Form, visit

Find out more about Cavendish Education and its SEN approach