Skip to content ↓

Parent/Carer feedback

In March 2024 we published a survey online for parents and carers of our pupils. We would like to thank all the parents/carers who took time to fill in the survey and to provide feedback both on what is amazing at Chatten Free School and what could improve.  

Thank you again for taking time to share your thoughts with us. 

Overall results

We asked respondents to mark a series of statements using the phrases: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Below are the statements and percentage responses. 


Overall, we were very pleased with these results, which indicate that the vast majority of parents/carers are very happy with the offer at Chatten Free School. A small minority reported being neutral on some aspects and an even small majority reported disagreeing with two key points around resources and expertise. In the comments, a number of the neutral responses were reported as being due to the pupil being fairly new at the school and having not made a final decision. The other neutral and 'disagree' responses will be dealt with as best as possible below. 

Positive Feedback

We were blown away by all the amazing positive feedback. Please note that the following have been anonymised.  Thank you to the parents and carers kind enough to express the very kind words below 


"X's tolerance to situations with and out of school have expanded further than I would have ever expected." 


"Enabling X to confidently progress on with his communication thus given better understanding for X to share his needs and wants" 


"X's life and therefore our life has a family has improved immensely since joining Chatten as he has better skills for things he can do for himself eg showering, toileting, brushing teeth, getting dress so this has helped all of us. He is also much better at going to supermarkets and public areas since going regularly with school. His meltdowns have definitely become less and he has more understanding of waiting for things rather than getting cross" 


"My son has learnt more life skills at Chatten in the last 2 years than the other 13 years of his life. I believe this is due to the way the school teach life skills, the patience and care the staff give and the understanding they have of what my son will need for his future. My son is non verbal and therefore needs as many life skills as possible to live a full life in the future wherever that ends up being." 


"X's behaviour has been much more settled since she came to Chatten and the explosive and aggressive meltdowns she used to experience on the weekend, due to anxiety about school on Monday, have completely disappeared." 


"When X attended the 5-day residential last July. I didn’t think she would manage being away from her family for such a length of time and it’s testament to how much she loves the staff and school that she did." 


"X is lucky enough to go to a school that respects him for who he is, allows him to be his wonderful unique self in a safe and nurturing environment. He is always so happy to go to school which speaks volumes. I think we’re very lucky he goes to chatten." 


"I can’t thank Chatten enough for providing X with his own individualised targets that are important to him. He is taught in a safe and fun environment and it’s obvious he loves school and all the staff there. I was particularly impressed with how well the dental visit went as he was happy, relaxed and calm and allowed the dentist to look in his mouth. This was such a big moment for him and a real testament to how hard the staff had worked to get him to the point." 


"Very small steps with X but we are managing to get him to do some things that he could never to before like pick an object up off the floor if we pointed to it !" 


"I can not fault the staff at Chatten Free . X loves his days at school . The progress we have seen in him has been amazing and we can tell that the staff really do care about him." 


"X is definitely happy to go to school. He enjoys being there and often seeks out his uniform at weekends indicating he would like to go back there! We have had a positive experience at the school and would like to express gratitude for all the effort staff put in to help X. The measures that you have put in place to help him in difficult times are much appreciated." 


"I feel the school always has the pupils best interests front and centre of its decisions." 

"X is displaying less challenging behaviour since starting the school and when it does happen it's shorter lived and easier to manage." 


"The school has been amazing in getting X into school when she doesn’t want to go in. Also well done on cutting her hair. Maria has been amazing." 


Chatten staff toilet trained X which was absolutely incredible. When I meet with the staff I realise how well they know X and his needs. 


"The communication from the school is excellent. We get daily updates about X from the teachers .In addition to this we also receive pictures and videos of him participating in a variety of activities . The school has been giving X to participate in one of his favorite activities (swimming)X has also build a positive relationship with his teachers" 


"When I visited X at school for the dentist it was the best feeling to see him in his school environment and he responded so well to it. I do think it’s a little sad that parents don’t get to have any opportunities to see their children in school at Chatten. It was the first time in his 2.5 years there and it really was so wonderful to see." 


"My son loves coming to school. I have seen an improvement in his gross motor and fine motor skills in the last one year." 


"X had been out for more that one and half years because no school could meet his needs. However ,Chatten school has given him an opportunity to socialize with peers, participate in other different activities and have access to specialized professionals such as OT.He has been attending school every day. Which shows he is enjoying school." 


"Other than X's own family, I can honestly say I have never met individuals who seem to genuinely care about and understand X as much as the SLT team at Chatten Free. The foundations of understanding the complexities of X's profile is automatically there which eliminates the frustration I typically feel trying to explain X to other professionals even before addressing concerns etc." 


"X absolutely adores school, the staff are all incredible and we are very lucky he has a place with you all." 


"Chatten has been a lifeline for the whole family, X is happy to attend school each day which is ultimately all we could wish for, Chatten is a humongous part of X's life. The wider family who see X less often always comment on how much progress they see since they last saw X in terms of her communication and toleration skills." 


"X has achieved some amazing ‘firsts’ since starting at Chatten - her first ever haircut, her first residential school trip, first ever interest in an animal! I would just like to express my gratitude once again to the school as a whole for offering and providing such amazing opportunities for X everyday. Chatten is what I would call a ‘model school’. I wish every child with additional needs could be as lucky in their educational experience as the children who get a place at Chatten." 


"There is nothing that Chatten won't do to help . I can not thank everyone enough. The support we have had as a family is priceless!" 

How we can get even better 

Rather than quote parents/carers directly, we picked our key themes in the responses that indicated areas we could improve and responded to them below: 

Pupils sometimes come home messy

Some parents reported that their children sometimes come home messy and wondered if there was a way this could be better managed. 

At Chatten, we often engage young people in messy play and this can get a little, well, messy.  

If this situation is one that causes you challenges, then please get in touch with the class lead. There are things we can do to help. 

Increasing the overall experience of the staffing team

We have always had a very open approach to staffing at Chatten Free School, employing both experienced and inexperienced staff members. We find that both backgrounds offer different qualities that the pupils can and do benefit from.  

We have started to work with some agencies whose staff usually have a background in either care or SEND education. Through this we have been able to recruit a more balanced mix of more experienced and fresh perspective staff to help us ensure the optimal mix of staffing. 

Providing guidance to parents on how to do what we do in school (including AAC devices). Also home/school partnership development. 

Home school partnership is an incredibly important part of what we do at Chatten and we try very hard within the boundaries of the school day to maximise this.  

What we do: 

We offer termly meetings with parents in which parents can request to see specific elements of pupil programs. Although there are occasions when this is not appropriate for specific pupils. 

We have previously offered online and live training to families on using picture exchange. This is still available on the website under the private families area. 

We do try to work flexibly with families, if their is something you really need or would like to see please let us know and we will try to work with you to do this. 

What we intend to do: 

We would like to restart coffee mornings but with a specific focus. For example, a coffee morning with a training focus on augmented communication (PECS and PRO-LO0). At present we are looking for affordable locations to hold these events as we do not have room in the school. 

Longer term: 

At present we are restricted to working within the school day. However we are in early discussions with the LA to develop a ‘skills generalisation team.’ This team would work in homes out of hours with the goal of helping to generalise skills taught in the school into the home environment. 

This will take time. 

Communication (bigger changes) 

Big picture communication is something for me (Adam Dean) to work on. I know that sometimes I could communicate larger operational changes quicker and more effectively. I hope that this is now improving. I have taken on the feedback that the videos on Dojo are helpful and effective and will try to do these more often when things arise. 

Consistent 1:1 

We have listened to the feedback around this, and we are endeavouring to make one to ones more consistent by not moving staff around as a matter of policy on a regular basis. We believe that this will have a positive impact on families, pupils and staff. 

However please note that there are still circumstances which will lead to changes in staffing and we cannot avoid this. If the changes are longer term or permanent, we will aim to communicate these with you. 

After school and holiday clubs

We would love to be able to offer these and recognise the benefits to pupils and families. 

In fact, we had several meetings with a potential provider earlier this year and even identified several staff who would be interested in working at the school over the holidays.  

This we had not communicated as we wanted to manage expectations. 

Sadly, the provider was told very recently that there is no new funding available in Mid-Essex for this. As you can imagine we were very disappointed by this news. 

If you know of anyone who might be interested in running a club who has access to funding we would love to be put in touch with them. 

Improving training and support 

We are very excited that Bobby and Millie are now assistant heads and no longer class teachers. This will release them to be able to provide much more consistent training and support to teachers and tutors alike.

In addition, FIVE members of our team have now completed (or nearly completed) a Masters in ABA and are either waiting for a date for their exam or working on completing supervision hours.

We have also increased the pupil/teacher ratio for September which will increase training and support for tutors. 

We have a new fulltime SALT starting after the April holiday. 

We have invested time and funding into providing training and world leading quality supervision in Skills Based Treatment for several staff members. SBT is one of the newest and most exciting innovations in the world of ABA.

Face to face meetings/ coffee mornings 

Please see section on parent training etc. 

Communication (daily and regular including target progress) 

We pride ourselves on the fact that our communication in general exceeds other schools of a similar type. All parents should get daily DOJO updates with key content regarding the pupils day at school.  

We also offer termly meetings to discuss progress (these may be combined with CIN or EHCP meetings) if these don’t happen or you haven’t been invited, please contact your class lead and they will get it booked in. 

EFL is designed to provide targeted feedback on a range of targets. We believe that EFL use is improving across the school, but we do know that it is not exactly where it needs to be. We want you to receive 2-3 updates on targets per week that include links to specific target progress and we want that evidence to be varied. 

Tutors can find this challenging to fit in alongside the numerous other requirements on their time which includes;  

  • direct work with pupils 

  • graphing  

  • resource making 

  • Training (2-3 times weekly) 

  • Recording incidents of challenging behaviour 

However, we really do want to improve.  

We are working with Class Leads to quality assure EFL over the coming terms and aim to improve the quality and quantity of what you see over time.