Info for Parents / Carers

The Outdoors School

Info for Parents and Carers

At the Outdoors Special School we are aware of the stress and pressure parents and carers can be under when trying to navigate the maze that you are presented with if your child has been permanently excluded. We recognise that learners are often coming from school systems that have not suited them at all and there is naturally some concern about them returning to a similar setting and this repeating a cycle of failure.

We pride ourselves on being different and work almost entirely outside with a social emotional based curriculum that learners can access at their own pace. We give our students as much freedom and autonomy as possible as we believe this is the only way for them to learn the nature of and responsibility for their learning, behaviour and attitudes. We promote a growth mindset in everything we do and do not have a culture of testing or failure. We also use projects rather than subjects to help all learners use their existing talents and skillsets to access the learning of additional curriculum aspects and skills. We have a high staff to learner ratio and work closely with everyone we can in the learners’ support network, including parents and carers who are regularly invited into school to engage with what the learners are doing.

When your child has been permanently excluded or is at risk of this happening it can often feel like you are being passed from pillar to post or completely forgotten about with a lack of communication or what is happening. It is a difficult time emotionally and can be hard to keep up with the process. The reality is that everyone’s situation is different and no two cases are the same, whilst everyone is doing their best for the children it is easy for this to seem like chaos! If we are able to help with the process of securing a placement, either with us or by providing some information, if we can help we will! We are committed to getting all learners into secure placements that will help them succeed.

We are commissioned by the 0-25 team for places and this would typically require learners to be permanently excluded, attending a PRU or other special school placement and to have an EHCP. If you need help and support with the process of placing your child with us then we will help where we can.

If you are interested in looking around the school or have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We have provided some links below for further guidance.

The Principal – Calvin Thain

Calvin is a passionate, experienced and inspirational leader in the field of Social Emotional and Mental Health needs based education. He has a wealth of experience spanning seventeen years including, residential SEBD schools, day SEBD schools, alternative and complimentary education, mainstream school specialist provision and advisory roles including supporting two mainstream secondary schools that had been placed into, and subsequently moved out of, special measures.

In an open reference Paul Williams, Senior Educational Psychologist and Manager of the Education Psychology and Specialist Teacher Service comments;

“I have had the good fortune to work closely with Calvin on a number of cases where he has taught and supported very challenging young people that other educational institutions (including special schools) have been unable to ‘cope with’. Remarkably, Calvin has often been able to work minor miracles addressing children’s behaviour difficulties and improving their educational attainment, as well as giving them the skills to successfully return to mainstream education.”

Calvin has a different approach to many alternative education providers in that he has a no excuses culture and believes that with the right support and guidance all young people can learn, grow, develop and move on to the next steps, not only in their educational journey but also in their social development. 

During the past five years he was responsible for a specialist unit, the Learning Intervention Centre (off site provision) attached to a mainstream school which catered for 30+ learners who all had reached the point that their behaviour and engagement would lead to permanent exclusion, this unit was described as an ‘outstanding provision’ in an external review by the Education Psychology Service in Torbay. Through determination and building a creative and person-centred curriculum Calvin was able to ensure all learners were able to move on to an appropriately levelled course post 16.

Contact Us

The Outdoors Group
Head Office
West Town Farm

Tel: 07716 002516 / 01392 811907


Useful Links

Our Policies

Devon Information Advice and Support– these guys are brilliant and everyone we have come into contact with who has used their services has highly recommended them. They are very knowledgeable and hugely helpful and a great first port of call if you need help through this process.


Douglas Silas solicitors– dealing exclusively in SEN cases helping parents/carers to get the right placement for their child, if you need legal advice this is a great starting point. He also produces a termly newsletter on legal aspects of SEN that will help keep you informed of current legislation.


You are donating to : South West Outdoors Group

How much would you like to donate?
£10 £20 £30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note