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From The Principal…

Welcome to the new academic year.

Staff enjoyed two INSET Training days on the 3rd and 4th September refreshing their health, safety, medical and care practice training as well as updating their safeguarding understanding and knowledge. For those working in our new Autism Specific Provision classes, they had a full day of behaviour analysis and planning training. We are very excited about this new initiative and know that this will lead to greater focus and support for these youngsters. Verbal Behaviour Analysis approaches will be rolled out across the school for those not placed in the Autism Specific classes later in the academic year. 

This project work is already attracting a great deal of interest and attention from specialist professionals in the field of Autism and we are hoping that our work will lead to a published research project in the future. We will keep you informed of these exciting developments in due course.

Columbus continues to grow and expand in all departments. I have been delighted to receive more children and young people to the academy than ever before – this enables us to reach more families locally and, in time, will help us with increased levels of funding to continue to provide a high quality service to all our young people. 

This term we welcome our new school nurse, Moira Radford. She replaces Anna Simmons who left the local nursing service to return to nursing duties in her local community.

Music Therapist, Anita Vaz will be leaving us at the end of the month to pursue duties closer to home. Our other Music Therapist, Amelia Clapham, will take up her duties across the two campuses. Amelia has been working with our young people since last term and will now move to expand her caseload to encompass any young person Anita has been supporting.

Amelia and Anita will both continue to support Columbus in the preparations for the Shakespeare Festival in November. Students from across the two campuses have been taking part in auditions and rehearsals and will perform their rendition of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Civic Theatre on 16th November 2015 at 7pm. Tickets are available from the Columbus Reception team (Tickets are £9 with concessions £7). We are looking forward to our young people being included in a mainstream, fully inclusive production with local secondary schools also taking part and I am very excited to be able to share more of what our young people are capable of with our wider community!

As families prepare to get back into the school routine, I can confirm that all School and College Campus clubs commence with effect from Monday 21st September. We look forward to seeing your young person enjoying these after school opportunities!

Ginny Bellard


From The Principal…

posted 23 May 2017, 05:20 by James Dorey

I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with the staff and Governors at Columbus over recent weeks, revisiting our vision for the academy and sharing our collective views and aspirations for our very special young people.

Once I had gathered all the thoughts, views and notes from staff I had the enormous task of trying to select which were the most important and pertinent suggestions (from among over 100 pages of notes!). It felt almost impossible to encapsulate everyone’s contributions!

I therefore decided to display as many of the staff’s key words and phrases within a “wordle” which I think truly sums up everyone’s hopes and dreams for each and every one of our learners. Past this month’s blog, the vision will be displayed around the School and College campuses and also appear at the top of our website so that all can see our joined-up vision and united commitment to delivering the very best to our very special young people.

Hallam’s Café continues to go from strength to strength. Small groups of students share the responsibility of opening the café – now open all day. If you are a regular customer, you can even get a Hallam’s Café loyalty card! This wonderful opportunity, set up by the FE team, is offering our young people opportunities to develop their communication skills, experience early work experience and practice their money skills. Thank you to all involved in the development of this wonderful learning experience.

I am delighted to share with you all that following a visit from the Lord's Taverners and a sensory resource company, the Friends of Columbus School and College have been nominated their local Charity of the Year.

The two groups will be taking the College sensory rooms as a joint project. Laser Electrical will be holding a number of sponsored challenges throughout the year and will have the Columbus name advertised on the back of their clothing to advertise us as their supported charity. They will also be adding details about us to their website and encouraging other businesses to join them in supporting us. Thank you to Claire Rayner, our Columbus Fundraiser, and Spencer Davis from Gepps Solicitors for linking us with these generous supporters.

Until next month…..

Mrs. Ginny Bellard


From The Principal…

posted 24 Apr 2017, 02:45 by James Dorey

The Summer Term starts here!

We have a busy and fun-packed term ahead of us with various sporting events, musical interaction training for teachers and LSAs and of course our annual CFest Summer Fayre!

I am delighted to be returning to Columbus full time after my maternity leave and to round off the academic year together with the team. This evening will see the first of four Autism training sessions delivered by me for our Learning Support Assistants which I am very much looking forward to. I am sure we will be sharing many varied experiences and skills to continue to move forward our Autism support strategies across the team.

I continue to review and reflect upon the learning and social experiences we offer to our young people at Columbus and this term I am keen to look at further enrichment opportunities with community groups. Talented local musician, Adam Amore will be joining the Columbus team on the College Campus to present a range of interactive music sessions for the young people to join in with and also for our Teachers and Learning Support Assistants to begin to learn a little more about how to present communication and music enrichment activities – even when we are not all musicians! I look forward to sharing a range of photos and videos of the work that takes place in my next blog.

As a part of this enrichment review, I am very excited to be meeting next week with Mr. Kadir, Mr. Nawaz and Mr. Syed from the Chelmsford Mosque to discuss ways in which we can work together to enable our young people to learn about people of different faiths and backgrounds. Together we will be exploring community awards and certificates that the children and young people can gain in recognition of their learning and interaction with a range of community settings and groups and I hope that our friends from the mosque will be a part of future awards ceremonies and celebrations at Columbus.

As you will be aware from my recent communications, we continue to work hard on fundraising initiatives. We have recently received a range of outdoor learning and physical development equipment and seating spaces specifically selected for our young people who use wheelchairs. This will enable them to enjoy our outdoor social spaces but have shelter from the sun as we enter the summer months. 


We have also received another Acheeva Learning Station during the Easter holiday which was kindly funded by Santander. This amazing piece of equipment enables us to ensure the physical comfort of our learners during their learning time at Columbus which enables the young people to feel ready to learn and engage.

Events to celebrate and thank our kind donators will be taking place in the weeks ahead.

The community of Burnham-on-Crouch and St Mary’s Church congregation very kindly nominated the Friends of Columbus School and College Fundraising Committee as their chosen charity when they celebrated World Autism Day on Sunday the 2nd April. You will see from the photograph below that the service was a stunning event where the church was illuminated in blue to link in with the “Autism Speaks” charity initiative. Thank you to Lorraine Lazaro and her friends for supporting Columbus in this way. Funds raised from the event will go towards the development of our Autism curriculum and training for staff. 


I am pleased to announce that the Friends of Columbus School and College Fundraising Committee has recently been named as one of three local charities to be the Chelmsford Mayor’s Charity for 2017-2018. Claire Rayner and I went to deliver a presentation to the new Mayor and his Deputy about the committee and the work they do to enhance the experiences and services we offer to our children and young people. They were very interested to hear about our very special young people and I was delighted to hear that he and his Deputy had really taken us to their hearts. In the coming months, we will be involved in arranging a number of different social events which I hope many of you will be able to attend. Chelmsford City MENCAP and Age Concern are the other two nominated charities for the year that will be working with us in the months ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite staff, parents and friends of the school to join Claire and I to form a Working Party that arranges these events with the Mayor and his team. Events being discussed so far are Quiz Nights, a Cheese and Wine evening in the Meadows shopping centre, a Christmas Ball at Channels Golf Club, a community performance at the Civic Theatre and a fashion show with John Lewis in Bond Street, Chelmsford.

If you are interested in joining us in this exciting opportunity, please email the PA to the Principal, Pauline Miller, at

At our recent training day on the 31st March I was able to take some time with staff to talk about renewing our collective vision for all we do at Columbus. This was following a session on vision for our academy that I had had with a team of Governors earlier in the month. Staff and Governor comments, which all depicted a wish for an organisation of support, opportunity and joined-up working, will be collated into a community vision which I look forward to sharing with you all soon.

Until next month everyone….!

Mrs. Ginny Bellard


From The Principal…

posted 16 Mar 2017, 03:37 by James Dorey   [ updated 16 Mar 2017, 03:38 ]

Welcome to March and what feels as if Spring might be arriving!

I write to you all as I begin my return to Columbus following my maternity leave. Although it has been wonderful to spend time at home with my boys and to begin to welcome the newest addition to our family, it is great to be back at Columbus!

During my brief time back, so much has happened already.

I am pleased to announce that the local health commissioning service have allocated us a day of support every week from the Community Nursing Team. Many of you will remember Moira Radford who worked with us last academic year. Moira will be working with us every Tuesday, supporting us with specialist training needs, making adjustments to care plans and supporting staff in the care and wellbeing of children and young people across the academy. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Claire Sayers, our Health and Wellbeing Advocate who, in the absence of a school nurse, guides us all in ensuring the children and young people receive the very highest quality care and medical support while at Columbus.
Claire’s expertise and thorough knowledge of each individual student, coupled with the support she gives to the Columbus team as well as families has been invaluable and it feels right to acknowledge this. I know she will continue to work very closely with the community team to ensure the support service offered continues to be the very best it can be. Thank you to you, Claire.

Community partnerships and community based learning and social opportunities continue to be very important to us here at Columbus. One new link that has recently emerged is with Beaulieu Park and Reverend Sue Howlett. Columbus has been invited to contribute to a bulb planting event on the new housing estate where we have also been able to contribute to the design and services offered to local people with a disability. Columbus now has its own enterprise garden there which the FE department will be able to contribute to.

The quality of teaching and learning is always at the top of our agenda when thinking about the quality of service offered at Columbus. Senior and middle leaders have recently completed observations of all teachers and I am pleased to report that standards remain strong. When observations are conducted, we take the opportunity to share best practice across the academy and plan this carefully through a Post-Observation Action Plan. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking to offer opportunities for paired teaching and training in specific learning needs and interventions to ensure that our young people are fully engaged and comprehensively supported in their lessons.

Columbus continues to maximise opportunities to draw in additional funds locally and nationally in order to extend the learning provision available to our young people. Our fundraiser, Claire Rayner, continues to make links with local charities as well as businesses to supplement the money we have available to build upon our resources and therapy interventions.

Over the course of the last year, we have received a grant of £12,000 from our local Tesco store which has enabled us to purchase a new shelter on sunny days for our children who use wheelchairs on the
School Campus. This will be placed on the field so that all children can access the space throughout the year and spend time outside socially with their friends. Large scale bean bags, a covered sand pit and sensory walls have also been purchased from this money for children on the School Campus. A range of new playtime games and activities as well as scooters have been purchased for both the School and the College Campuses and we hope that these will arrive and be in place by the end of this term/soon after Easter.

Thank you to the staff and families that were able to give their time to support recent bag packing events at Sainsbury’s in Springfield, Chelmsford. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of members of the public at times and are hopeful that future bag packing events will continue to build upon the money raised at the store. We have four more bag packing days at Sainsbury’s on the 8th and 9th of April and the 6th and 7th May. Sessions run 10.30-1pm and 1.30-4.00pm. If you are able to support at these events – even if it just for an hour – this would be very much appreciated. Please contact our Fundraiser, Claire Rayner at

Sainsbury’s staff are also raising money for the school via social events and one member of their team is running the London Marathon for us this year. All money raised from the bag packing and Sainsbury’s events will be presented later this year and we will keep you updated of our achievements and where the money will be spent.

The Chelmsford Round Table have recently donated £10,000 for a hoist in the school hall after parents at our Parents’ Consultation Committee raised that they would like better facilities to provide trampolining for our younger learners. The money left from this donation has gone towards purchasing two height adjustable light tables for all departments across the School and the College along with colour mixing paddles and specialist paper and letters to use with the tables. These will help to enrich the communication development and literacy lessons for our young people.

Some of the funds raised at our Christmas Fayre this year have gone towards Key Stage learning projects this term which we look forward to sharing with you at Parents’ Evenings and via our Annual Reports.

Readers will recall I am sure, Andy and Alan Rayner’s (Friends Fundraising Committee) Swim Serpentine event back in September which we have combined with some of the money from Damon Carter’s (father to Aimee, Class 15 ) three marathons over three days to purchase two charging stations for i-pads and a further 11 i-Pads shared across the School and the College. These devices will be used specifically for communication development.

A custom-made tandem is on its way from Holland over the Easter period for College Campus, paid for from the remainder of Damon’s donation.

Thank you to all our supporters and donators for their tremendous generosity, to Claire for her ongoing tenacity in gaining resources and funds and to all the staff and families who support us to continue our work in building a better service and learning environment for our very special young people.

Staff and families regularly share with us how helpful it is to know a little about the Columbus team – particularly as we comprise almost 200 people! We have recently developed an information sharing project called “A day in the life of…” where a range of staff members tell us about the job they do for Columbus and why they enjoy working here via a mini-diary entry.

It is also an opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate the diversity and range of skill in our extensive team and recognise individuals for the work they do to make our academy outstanding! Our Governors will also begin to complete these soon so you can get to know them a little more too. You can see these diary entries on our website, Facebook, Twitter, in the staffrooms and on our Good News Boards.

I hope that our readers and Facebook/Twitter followers have recently been able to see the excellent videos made by our teaching teams about learning activities at Columbus. I have asked our class teams to share and celebrate the range of practical activities that our people engage in and I have been delighted with the very high quality of the videos produced. To date we have videos depicting drama, Food Tech (Pancake Day), a piece on World Book Day and the Columbus Community Code.

I look forward to welcoming Governors into school this month to talk about the quality of service and support delivered at Columbus, to revisit our collective vision and areas we wish to improve further. I will be informing them of the upcoming training events for staff and the key projects we will be focussing on in the term ahead.

One of our newest additions to the Columbus Team is Mr Simon Best who teaches in the Key Stage 3 Department on School Campus. Simon leads the Dovedale Flyers sporting group for young people with disabilities who meet every Saturday morning from 10.00-12.00 and offer opportunities to play a variety of different sports including boxball, handball, football, hockey and cricket. The group also arranges and competes in a variety of different athletics competitions, the most prestigious being the Eastern Regional competition which is held at Melbourne Athletics Stadium. Should you be interested in getting your young person involved, the Dovedale Flyers Facebook Page is: They can also be contacted on for more information.

With the Easter break fast approaching, I wish you all a restful break. I will be returning to my duties full time after the holidays and I look forward to keeping you all posted of all the upcoming events and achievements at Columbus again in April.

Mrs. Ginny Bellard


posted 21 Feb 2017, 01:47 by James Dorey

I can hardly believe that we are almost half way through the academic year! I hope that you feel your son or daughter is progressing well at Columbus. 

We continue to see some great achievements for our youngsters. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, I am sure you will have read the reports and seen the photos of our children and young people hard at work and indeed enjoying themselves in a range of learning activities.

We are currently planning our next INSET day, Friday the 31st March, with our Educational Pyschologists. There will be a training focus for staff on supporting pupils with Autism and, in particular, supporting behaviours that challenge us. We will also be focusing on how staff can support each other while they work at Columbus so that team work is of the highest quality. 

Parent Consultation Committee

Our Parent Consultation Committee that started last year continues to meet regularly.  At the moment, our Early Years Department and FE Department are not represented.  If any parents with children in those departments would be interested to know more please do let us know.

Parents’ Social Events

Please do come along to our Parents’ Social Events if you are able to do so.  We will send out more information about each event nearer the date but here is a reminder of the remaining dates for this academic year:  7th March, 16th May and 4th July.  We look forward to seeing you.

Free English  / Free Maths classes for parents, grandparents and carers

Run by Essex County Council, ACL offers a wide range of free, face to face tuition, run by friendly tutors, that allows you to learn at a level and time that suits you.  To find out more, text English or text Maths to 88020.


As parents/carers will be aware, these are very difficult times for schools from a financial point of view but, as you know, we at Columbus are continually finding new ways to fundraise and thank you for your ongoing support for our efforts.  Here is a quick update of what we have received recently and a reminder of the ways people can support us should they wish to:  


Since April this year, Santander Consumer Finance have been supporting Friends of Columbus.  This has involved raising funds with a Cardiff to London Cycle Ride, a Silent Auction, golf days and other events.
The final total raised for 2016 reached a terrific £14,031 and the cheque was presented recently to Ginny by John Corrigan, Chair of our Friends of Columbus Committee.   This very generous donation will mean that another Acheeva bed can be purchased for Columbus, as well as the school receiving a significant contribution towards the therapies programme.  Our very grateful thanks to all concerned for the ongoing support that Santander give to us.

London Marathon 2017

Please forgive another reminder that Mr. John Mean will be running the 2017 London Marathon for Friends of Columbus School and College.  We are incredibly grateful for John’s support and this commitment to Columbus.  You can sponsor John via his Just Giving page 

Sainsbury’s Active Kids Vouchers

We are taking part in this initiative once again this year.  We would be very grateful to receive your vouchers if you would like to send them in to us.  Thank you.

Easy Fundraising

If you are able to, please remember to support Columbus via Easyfundraising,  or register at  So far we've raised the fantastic sum of £1901.57 with your support. Thank you!

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal


posted 18 Jan 2017, 03:11 by James Dorey


May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Christmas Productions and events. Each and every one of them was a huge success and we were very proud of all of our pupils and students. You should by now have received the DVD of your child’s performance if you ordered one and I hope these will be a lasting memento for you to enjoy in years to come.

Safeguarding Review and AET Review of the Academy

Parents/carers will be aware that we had two AET reviews last term. I am pleased to inform you all that the Safeguarding Review outcome was Effective (schools are only graded as Effective or Ineffective).

The AET Review of the academy agreed with our own assessment that we are a Good school. AET are working closely with senior leaders to ensure that we continue to improve.

Music Therapist

I am pleased to be able to share that Emily Grimes, a Music Therapist, is starting with us this term. Pupils who have Music Therapy on their Statements/EHCPs wil join therapy sessions and the therapists will report back on progress to the parents/carers of those children.

PD Award

The Columbus PD (Physical Development) team received their School Games Gold Award 2015/16 recently. Congratulation and well done to all concerned.

London Marathon 2017

We were thrilled to learn that Mr. John Mean will be running the 2017 London Marathon for Friends of Columbus School and College. John works in Sainsbury’s, Springfield. If you see John collecting in store, please do say hello. We are incredibly grateful for John’s support and this commitment to Columbus. You can sponsor John via his Just Giving page

AET Christmas Video Competition 2016

We were delighted to be informed during the Christmas holidays that Columbus had won the AET Festive Video Competition 2016 (Special). Congratulations to all concerned in the making of this video. We will be receiving a prize in due course. You can watch all the winning videos via the following link:

Acheeve Competition

We have also just been informed that we will be receiving a prize voucher for our entry into the Symmetrikit Postural Care decorated Acheeva competition. Again, well done to all concerned!

Facebook and Twitter

A reminder to our new parents/carers that Columbus is on Facebook and Twitter. Do follow us and keep up-to-date with what is happening in school.

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal

(If you are able to, please remember to support Columbus via Easyfundraising, or register at So far we've raised the fantastic sum of £1901.57 with your support. Thank you!)

From The Principal…

posted 6 Dec 2016, 03:47 by James Dorey


The young people and staff have been busily preparing for their Christmas performances, parties and events over the last few weeks and we are looking forward to all the Christmas festivities in the run up to the end of term. 

Safeguarding Review and AET Review of the Academy 
Over recent weeks we have had two AET inspections and I’m pleased to report to parents that these have gone well. The Safeguarding inspection was carried out over one and half days and was completed by an Ofsted Inspector. The result of this was that Columbus is considered ‘fit for purpose’. The AET Review of the Academy was carried out by two AET professionals (one who is a registered inspector) and the new Head Teacher of our sister school, Pioneer, in Basildon. This review was very useful and has helped us identify how to keep improving the Academy. 

‘Razed Roof’
We are hoping that Razed Roof, a Theatre Company that operates out of Harlow Playhouse and specialises in working with young people with learning needs, will be working in FE next term for one day a week. This will give some FE students to experience high quality drama experiences.  

Friends of Columbus Christmas Fair
Thank you to the Friends Fundraising Committee, families and staff of Columbus pupils who helped to set up, run a stall or just came along to our Christmas Fair on Friday 2nd December. The event was a great success again with so many families and supporters of the school attending and we were thrilled to welcome so many friends of the school who came along to put on fun activities for the children and offer opportunities for us all to start to get organised with Christmas presents! 

Dance 21 joined us once again and entertained all who attended with a range of dance performances.  Our thanks go to Thomas Turrell, an ex-student of Columbus and co-choreographer for Dance 21, for his ongoing help this year with developing performing arts experiences and opportunities for our young people at Columbus. 

So much hard work goes into making this event so special by our Friends Committee; we will let you know how much money was raised as soon as the Treasurer has totalled everything up. 

Sainsbury’s Springfield Charity of the Year
Our thanks go to Sainsbury’s at Springfield who are giving us another Bag Packing fundraising opportunity again on the 9th, 10th and 11th December.  There’s still time to let us know if you would like to help us.  Please e-mail our fundraiser at  

Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ Initiative
I would like to thank everyone who voted for Columbus in this recent initiative.  Thanks to your support, we managed to get the most votes which means that we will receive a magnificent donation of £12,000 for outside play spaces.  This is just amazing and will make such a difference.

Fuchsia Society
A longstanding partnership that Columbus has with the Fuchsia Society continues to benefit the children and young people at the academy. I was invited to speak at their Annual Awards Evening on Wednesday 26th November to share a little more about the work we do with our very special children and young people. The group were very interested to hear about the remarkable work of the staff and indeed the achievements of the young people.  The evening culminated in me being presented with a cheque for £2,500 for the academy.

In the past, the funds have been used to develop inclusive learning and social events with our friends and colleagues from St. John Payne Secondary School. The Fuchsia Society have also supported in the funding of the end of year ‘Leavers’ Ball’ for young people in Year 11 and Year 14 to have a party and experience a celebration event that marks their achievements throughout their school life, in a similar way that their mainstream friends would experience.  Our sincere thanks go to the group for their extended interest in and support of our academy. 

AET Christmas Card Competition
Congratulations to Toby Brooks, a student in Key Stage 4, who won the AET Christmas Card Competition 2016.  This competition is open to all special academies within AET.  Toby wins a £25 Argos voucher and his design will be on the AET Christmas cards sent far and wide!  Well done Toby – we are very proud of you!

Thank You
As the year draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our ongoing fundraising efforts in any way.  The support received is amazing and there are just too many people to mention individually.  In the new year we are looking forward to sharing with everyone in detail the fantastic things we have been able to do with the money raised so far.  What we have been able to achieve, thanks to your ongoing support, is fantastic. 

Term Dates
A reminder that the last day of term is Wednesday 21st December and pupils return on Monday 9th January.  Thursday 5th and Friday 6th January are INSET days. Taxis have been informed.

These two training days will be used to ensure that all staff have the very latest mandatory Safeguarding Children in Education training  and refreshed training in Moving and Positioning, Dysphagia, Epilepsy awareness and Gastronomy.  

I look forward to seeing you all at your child’s Christmas performance if you are able to join us and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal

(During the run up to Christmas, if you are able to, please remember to support Columbus via Easyfundraising or register at  So far we've raised the fantastic sum of £1,693.43 with your support. Thank you!)

From The Principal…

posted 11 Nov 2016, 04:05 by James Dorey

Welcome to our November blog!

I must start by saying how very, very proud we were of all the pupils who took part in the Shakespeare Festival at a packed Civic Theatre on Tuesday 1st November. The performance was amazing and the support from our families was absolutely brilliant! What a great night! The on-line gallery can be viewed at (password: SSF2016)

It was fantastic to see all the pupils on such a big stage and at such a prestigious event - we were so proud of everyone. Our sincere thanks go to all the families who made sure that the pupils were able to take part and to all the wonderful staff who gave up their time to support the event. Well done to Louise Doe (Head of Learning, KS3) for organising everything and ensuring that Columbus stays truly on the local map! Finally, thanks again to GTCA - Georgia's Teenage Cancer Appeal for their generous donation that made this all possible.

Parents will be aware that we had a training day on Monday 31st October. All teachers attended a very high quality training session with Flo Longhorne who is recognised nationally as an expert in PMLD teaching. LSAs all attended ‘Soundabout’ training which focusses on how we use music to communicate with our children and help them to make progress. Feedback from the teachers and LSAs on this training day has been very, very good.

A reminder that this term’s Parents’ Evenings are on 24th November (School Campus) and 1st December (College Campus). You will all receive a letter asking you to book your time slot and we look forward to seeing you.

The Parent Consultation Committee meeting held on 10th November was well attended and, as usual, discussions took place about many aspects of school life. Suggestions and comments will be shared and, where possible, acted upon. Thank you to the Committee members for their commitment and support.

We hope that as many people as possible will be able to support us in the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ initiative currently running at the following participating stores: These are the participating stores:

Tesco Superstore, Princes Road, Chelmsford, Tesco Superstore, Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Tesco Maldon Extra, Maldon, Tesco Superstore, Witham, Tesco Express, Waterhouse Lane, Chelmsford, Tesco Express, Burnham-on Crouch, Maldon, Tesco Superstore, Tiptree

We will receive a minimum of £8,000 and potentially £12,000 if we ‘win’ so your votes really will make a difference. Thank you.

FRIENDS CHRISTMAS FAIR – Friday 2nd December 6pm – 9pm on School Campus
The Friends Christmas Fair is always a wonderful occasion – do come along and get into the festive spirit if you can! Look out for more information about this event to be sent from the Friends of Columbus soon. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible and hope it’s a great success once again.

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal

From The Principal…

posted 17 Oct 2016, 02:07 by James Dorey

Welcome to the October blog!

The young people and staff continue to settle well into the new academic year and many of our students are already making pleasing progress against new learning targets and developments to the curriculum.

A reminder that after half term (Monday 24th – Friday 28th October) there is a staff training day on Monday 31st October Pupils to return to school on Tuesday 1st November.

Parents have now been notified of their child’s Annnual Review/EHCP meeting date for this academic year in order that they can note the date well in advance and make appropriate arrangements to attend as the dates of these meetings are very difficult to change.

Louise Doe, Head of Learning for Key Stage 3, is working very hard once again this year to pull together the performers from both campuses who will be taking part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival on the 1st November at the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford. We are hoping that you will be able to join us at this exciting event which will see our young people performing in and supporting an authentic dramatic event involving a number of local mainstream schools. For us this is true inclusion and equality of opportunity and I am very proud that Columbus students have a chance to be involved and share with our local community what we are all truly capable of! Tickets are available at both Columbus Reception desks.

‘Bag Books’ - a learning disability literacy charity – will be visiting School Campus on 20th October and College Campus on 24th November. They write and make multi-sensory stories for children and young people with severe or profound learning difficulties and are also appropriate for young children on the autistic spectrum. Stories are told through the emotion in the storyteller's voice and a sensory object.

The first Parents’ Social Event of this academic year was held on 11th October. It was a very relaxed friendly morning where parents had the opportunity to share their experiences of life with a child who has additional needs. We look forward to seeing more parents/carers at future meetings.

Following receipt of their donation to Columbus of £500, Adventure Island in Southend requested a visit to see Columbus ‘in action’ and we are in the process of arranging this at the moment.

Friends of Columbus are still very active and their next events are the Christmas Fayre on Friday 2nd December from 6.00pm – 9.00pm on School Campus and a Quiz Night on 11th March. More details about both events to follow in due course. Friends are always looking for new members or offers of help so, if you feel you can help them in any way, please let us know.

Finally, I would like to share with you all the wonderful fundraising efforts that continue to happen on behalf of Columbus. I am so amazed by the support we receive from so many different places – parents, friends of the school, businesses. Here is a flavour of the support we have received over the past couple of months:

Huge thanks go to the parent of one of our Columbus students who is taking part in the Atlantic Coastal Challenge for Columbus this weekend. The route starts near Padstow and finishes at Lands End. The three day event will see him completing the equivalent to a Marathon per day!! If you feel you would like to encourage him you can do so via

Congratulations, well done and huge thanks to Alan and Andy Rayner who successfully completed Swim Serpentine recently.

We were very pleased to welcome The Bartella family to our School Campus recently, to present our new wheelchair swing kindly donated to us from The Bartella Charitable Fund.

Another bag packing session took place in-store at Sainsburys, Springfield on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October. Thank you to everyone who volunteered their support.  A team of about 12 Sainsbury’s staff visited College recently.  They had a tour of the campus followed by a planning meeting to discuss fundraising for Columbus. 

It was a beautiful sunny day for our group of Ford volunteers who came for the third year running on 22nd September to work on School Campus and College Campus. They tidied borders, cut back shrubs and generally improved the look of the outside areas. They also mended all the bikes and trikes and got them into working order.  Our thanks go to them once again. 

Tesco generously donated plants and materials for their team of volunteers who came to work on School Campus recently. The volunteers worked really hard to tidy up the sensory garden. They cut back the trees and shrubs, repaired and varnished the circular seating, re-planted the boat and well and added new compost to the planters. 


Last week, a team of volunteers from Santander cycled 265 miles in 2 days, followed by a 35 mile run on day 3 starting in Cardiff and finishing in Redhill to raise money for Columbus!


We are so grateful to each and every one for their support.  Their fundraising efforts really do make such a difference to our children and young people.  Thank you!

Tom Jackson-Owens, Acting Principal

From The Principal…

posted 21 Sep 2016, 03:31 by James Dorey   [ updated 21 Sep 2016, 03:32 ]

Welcome to the new academic year.  During Ginny’s maternity leave I will be Acting Principal and Gary Corbett will be Acting Vice-Principal.

We were delighted to hear that Ginny gave birth to a baby boy during the summer holidays.  Jake was born on 21st August and weighed 10lbs 3oz.  Mother and baby are doing well! 

Staff enjoyed two INSET Training days on the 1st and 2nd September refreshing their health, safety, medical and care practice training as well as updating their safeguarding understanding and knowledge.  We were also able to train more staff in ABA techniques and start induction programmes with new staff.

Columbus continues to grow and expand in all departments. We welcome to the academy all new children and young people who started with us this week.

This year’s Leavers’ Ball took place on 20th July and we were delighted to welcome the new Mayor for Chelmsford, Patricia Hughes, who came along to celebrate the achievements of the young people in FE and Key Stage 4. 

Our new Lady Mayor has a deep interest in Columbus and the needs of our young people and has had almost 20 years’ experience working within social care. She has also worked in Mental Health, with young people in care, before deciding to qualify and work with young adults who had profound learning disabilities. She has also been a manager of a residential home, helping disabled young people to live independently in the community. 

The Lady Mayor helped Ginny to present the awards to the students.  Here are a few photos of the evening:


Our ongoing fundraising continues to be successful.  Thank you to everyone who support us in any way.  It is very much appreciated.

We recently received a cheque for a grant from Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation for £1368 for outdoor play equipment for KS3, to include sensory wall panels, giant building blocks, scooters and games.

Friends of Columbus have won the voting to become Sainsbury’s Local Charity of the Year!

Columbus successfully achieved the School Games GOLD Mark for 2015/16 and my thanks go to the Physical Development Team in achieving this.

Chelmsford City Council conducted their Public Heath audit last term and the kitchen and catering team received a 5 Star award.

Our partnership working with Fords continues and on 22nd September volunteers will be returning to work on College Campus. They will be tidying borders, cutting back shrubs and generally improving the look of the outside areas. 

Over the next week we have induction visits from 40 students from Chelmsford  College who will be doing their Health & Social Care placements with us and fifty 6th form girls from Chelmsford County High School for Girls who will be doing their community service with us.

As families get back into the school routine, I can confirm that all School and College Campus clubs commence with effect from Monday 19th September. We look forward to seeing your young person enjoying these after school opportunities! 

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal

From The Principal…

posted 4 Jul 2016, 03:00 by James Dorey   [ updated 4 Jul 2016, 06:34 ]

And so we reach the end of another academic year! 

This past month has been such an enjoyable one with our annual Olympic Legacy (Sports) Days, a visit to Chelmsford County High School Music Live event and repeated success at the Panathlon sporting event which saw so many of our younger children bringing home medals for their achievements!

To see photos of these achievements – plus many more learning experiences, please follow us on Twitter @ColumbusSchool and visit our Facebook page.

Thank you to everyone who took time to vote for Friends of Columbus School and College to be the Sainsbury’s Charity of the Year. On-line and in-store voting is now closed and we hope to hear if we have been successful on or around 11th July. All donations (should we be lucky enough to win in the nominations) will go towards our therapy fundraiser.

Another very successful C-Festival Music event was held by the Friends and staff of Columbus on Saturday 11th June – bringing in funds over £1,600. The weather was kind to us this year and we all enjoyed listening to local bands and performers throughout the afternoon. 


We were also supported by a number of local businesses too through sponsorship and donations to our raffle. We have written to thank them all for their generosity and the time they gave to us to help to make the event such a success.

Two Friends of Columbus fundraisers will be swimming the Serpentine in September to add to the final figure raised at the C-Festival with funds going towards the purchase of iPads and other augmentative communication devices for our non-verbal students.

Another friend of Columbus School and College, Mr Jason Bartella, visited the School Campus recently to present a new play frame for the Early Years Department (Please see the picture below). Jason has been a friend of the school for some years now and has kindly remembered us within his work with The Bartella Charitable Fund. Our sincerest thanks go to him and his colleagues for their generosity.

As we plan a number of graduation events for children and young people transitioning to their new departments, and indeed to pastures new as some of them prepare to leave Columbus and pursue learning and support in the wider community, we also look ahead to our Leavers’ Ball which takes place on 20th July. 

I will be very proud to host the event and have recently heard that the new Mayor for Chelmsford, Patricia Hughes, will be joining us to celebrate the achievements of the young people in the FE and Key Stage 4 Departments.

I am hoping that she will be able to help me to present their awards and have some treasured photographs taken with our young people for them to keep as memories of their time here at Columbus.

It is particularly important to note that our new Lady Mayor has a deep interest in Columbus and the needs of our young people. She has had almost 20 years’ experience working within social care and also worked in Mental Health, with young people in care, before deciding to qualify and work with young adults who had profound learning disabilities. She later became a manager of a residential home, helping disabled young people to live independently in the community. Photographs of the evening will be posted on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for you all to see following the event.

As I prepare to take some maternity leave during the Summer Holiday and into the early part of the Autumn Term, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the children, young people, staff and families for yet another wonderful year. I continue to feel immense pride in Columbus and all who work and support our wonderful academy and look forward to a new academic year where I know we will all continue to go from strength to strength together.

I wish you all a very happy and restful Summer Holiday and look forward to seeing you all soon into the new academic year.

Ginny Bellard


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