Ofsted rating

Good (March 2019).

Read our latest Ofsted report.

Needs supported

The Dorchester Learning Centre is a base for students with an education, health and care (EHC) plan for social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

It is also alternative provision for students who find themselves outside mainstream education on a permanent or temporary basis. This could be because of exclusion or emotionally based school avoidance (EBSA).

Dorchester Learning Centre also has a base for students who are unable to attend school due to a medical need.

We support students aged from 5 to 16 years.

Our school and facilities

Dorchester Learning Centre is based on a large site with a short driveway which links to a busy main road.

The main building has an indoor sports hall in the centre and includes:

  • a cosy break area for students
  • a gym
  • a dedicated art room

We have lots of outdoor space which our students use at break time and for sport. We also have a dirt bike track.

Class set up

We organise our classes by key stage and each class has around 8 students, but this is flexible.

We group students with an EHC plan and students accessing the alternative provision together, but we're flexible depending on need and the best fit for the group.

Within a class of 8 students we have one teacher and one teaching assistant (TA).

Curriculum and qualifications

At Dorchester Learning Centre all students follow the national curriculum and study:

  • English
  • maths
  • science
We also offer many extra-curricular subjects including:
  • art
  • photography
  • citizenship
  • humanities
  • religious studies (RS)
  • cooking
  • sport
  • personal development
  • personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education
Students in years 10 and 11 who are on a long-term placement can be entered for 5 or more GCSE or Entry Level subjects in:
  • English
  • maths
  • science
We also offer 3 further options in:
  • geography
  • RS
  • citizenship
  • design technology (DT) resistant materials
  • DT product design
Our students can also take part in a range of clubs as part of the timetable. We offer a dirt bike club which includes bike maintenance and can lead to a BTEC qualification.

We use offsite provision to broaden the curriculum for our students who need something different, including:

Approaches and staff expertise

At Dorset Learning Centre we provide a personalised approach to meet our students' academic and emotional needs, including a bespoke timetable. Our motto is: 'One pupil, one plan'.

Staff support students who experience emotionally-based school avoidance (EBSA), working to bring them back into education. Students can take part in wellbeing walks and we have a therapy dog on site.

Our staff have received training in the following:

  • attachment friendly schools through Kate Cairns Associates
  • Dorset STEPS
We have introduced the I Can Problem Solve approach and it's now embedded throughout the centre.

We have a trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) and Thrive Practitioner on site who provides individual and group sessions for students. Family Workers provide safeguarding and pastoral support for individual students and work closely with their families.

Next steps and transitions

Every year we review a child or young person's placement as part of their education, health and care (EHC) plan review process and will discuss various options including:

  • into adulthood
  • life skills
  • developing independence
  • sixth form choices
  • Local Offer after 16 years and after 19 years
Alternative provision places at The Forum Centre are intended to be short term. The aim is that students will be able to return to their mainstream school after a period of support.

We have an ongoing careers programme to support our students to plan their next steps. We also have a transitions worker who attends the centre 2 days a week.

Dorchester Learning Centre

Name: David Dinsmore, headteacher
Email: office@dlc.dorset.sch.uk
Tel: 01305261213
Full contact details