Almost all of the children at Seamab have experienced significant trauma. This may have included neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
At Seamab, most of our children live with us all year round, they go to school here too. Our boys and girls are aged between five and thirteen when they move to Seamab, and they can stay with us for their care up to age eighteen. All of them can stay at Seamab for the right length of time for them.
We have a highly skilled, dedicated and energetic team, able to work with the most vulnerable and challenging children. Each child at Seamab has an individualised programme for care and education. This makes sure we help children in the most effective ways possible.
At Seamab we spend a lot of time really getting to know and understand the children we support. This means that when they feel distressed, or their behaviour is challenging, adults know how to help. Over time we are able to reduce children's distress and challenging behaviour. We never forget that all children need acceptance, love and affection.
Research has shown that children looked after away from home are many times more likely than other children to achieve less in school; have a mental health problem; be homeless; spend time in prison; and die before the age of twenty. At Seamab, we are working to change this.
Looking after children
Our children live about a mile away from the school in one of three bungalows, each of which is set up like a family home.
Each bungalow has a play room, and the kitchen and dining spaces are organised so that the group of children can eat together. Every child has their own bedroom, which we help them to look after as their own space. Children are able to enjoy individual time with adults as well as being supported when they are with other children. They are looked after by a dedicated team of care workers and each child has a nominated key worker.
The bungalows are surrounded by woodland and countryside, creating the ideal opportunity for the children to play outdoors. Away from campus, activities include swimming, outings to zoos and animal centres, trips to castles and historic places and visiting beaches and forests. We encourage the children to be involved in choosing and planning activities which they can do individually, with the children they live with, or with other children they are friends with.
Helping children learn
Our school is about a mile away from the bungalows where the children live, but learning and teaching is not restricted to school – it also takes place on the residential campus and other locations.
We think learning should be relevant to the child – and wherever possible, fun for everyone. This helps children who have found school difficult to discover that they have abilities and talents.
Our Seamab Curriculum for Excellence has been developed to be relevant to our children and their needs. We have a flexible and responsive approach to the timetable and plans for the children. This enables children to have choice and influence in their learning experiences. Our curriculum emphasises health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy.
Each child spends most of their school time in a small group with the same staff from the education team. The small groups are based on the children’s developmental stage and learning needs. This supports our education team to provide individualised programmes for the children and work with their interests and enthusiasms.
We also work with a range of visiting specialists to support our curriculum who work with the education team and the children regularly.
More support for children
Each child at Seamab is supported by a group of adults who work together to plan how best to meet the child’s needs and support them to fulfil their potential. These include: a nominated key worker from the care team who, in many ways, fulfils the responsibilities of a good parent; a key teacher; and key support workers from the education team. We also use the services of a social worker who provides support for children and works closely with both teams.
Every child is offered the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular activities based on their own interests. In the school holidays, we provide structured programmes of activities which build on the children’s interests and abilities.
As children develop and make progress, we support them to join local community-based groups. These vary depending on the child’s interests, and have included Scouts, Guides, dancing, drumming and drama.
Outdoor education offers our children the opportunity to work with others, improve their physical fitness and learn new skills. The children have benefitted from residential outdoor education trips and outdoor education activities at local centres.
Through play, children develop emotionally, socially and intellectually. Sadly, many of our children need support to learn to play by themselves, with other children and with adults. This is a critical part of our work with children in helping them recover from previous trauma.
To help, we have a speech and language therapist and an occupational therapist. They assess children placed at Seamab; develop individualised programmes to support the teams working with the children; and work directly with individual children.
The complexity and specialist nature of our children's needs sometimes makes it necessary for us to call on the support of visiting specialists and external consultants. We are currently developing our group of specialists who we can call on for support, or to work directly with the children when needed.
A day in the life and a life in the day
We understand that the small things really matter. That’s why we have regular routines and consistent boundaries for individual children. Every child has their own child’s statement, risk assessment and plan. Children are involved in discussing their own plan and setting targets that they work towards, often achieving their goals.
Let Alistair tell you what this all means for him on a typical day at Seamab:
I got up this morning and Stevie was really pleased to see me. We just had cereal and toast to eat as I had to get ready for school. I put on my school uniform and because the sun was shining, I walked to school with Archie. He’s one of the dogs that visits Seamab and I like him a lot. My favourite dog is Frank, he’s a pug and he’s really funny.
My topic at school is transport. When I grow up I am going to have a Ferrari. I am learning all about different kinds of transport. Last week I went on a trip with Rachel and we went on the train to Edinburgh then went on a tram. I found out that trams don’t go that fast. I have lunch in school with my group – today it was vegetable soup and chicken pie. Lorna our cook is the most amazing cook in the world. Sometimes I help in the kitchen but I have to wear an apron.
When I get back to the bungalow I like to play outside on my new scooter. I am learning new tricks and I like to go to the skate park at the weekend and practice. I keep asking Gary who’s in charge of my bungalow to build a skate park at Seamab. Brenda made dinner tonight, she’s a good cook and we had apple crumble.
After dinner I did my homework, I had to find out about different kinds of boats and write a list of all the different kinds on my iPad. I had a bath and spent ages with all my toys. Brenda says she doesn’t know who got wetter, me or the bathroom.
I don’t like bedtime very much, I always feel worried and lonely. I have a routine for bedtime to help me and there are pictures of this in my bedroom so I can remember what to do. One of the adults always spends time with me reading stories and talking about my day.
I had a good day today.
Parents and carers
At Seamab we work closely with parents and carers. The education team holds regular parents’ evenings and parents and carers are supported to attend with their child.
On the residential campus we have a small bungalow which is available for children to spend time with parents and carers. It has a kitchen and dining area as well as a sitting room, so that children can spend time with adults in a relaxed, natural setting. This is also a suitable space for children to spend time with their brothers and sisters and other family members.
Our staff are experienced in working with parents and carers, creating positive experiences with children. The social worker at Seamab, who is part of the care team, is an integral part of this support completing parenting assessments and working directly with parents and carers to support their relationship with the child.