Author: neil

As of February 2022, the FSM vouchers supplied ‘out of term time’ (i.e. during the holiday periods) were stopped by the Government. Instead, families in receipt of benefits, would be eligible for funding through the “Household Support Fund” this is designed to provide more support than just “out of term food vouchers” for eligible families, and this funding has been paid directly to local authorities who will distribute these funds.
Nottinghamshire County Council are now in the process of disseminating this funding and this is explained on their website :

As a group of Independent Schools, we have been working hard to gain access to this fund for our parents, and in order to facilitate this we have been asked by Nottinghamshire County Council, who are using “FSM status” as the eligibility criteria to access the fund, to collate a list of parents who are in receipt of benefits that entitle them to FSM and this we completed in October.
Thank you to those of you who have already completed the form, and if you have not managed to do it yet, the link is here and will be live until the 26th November 2022.

Since 12th October we have been messaging Nottinghamshire LA weekly to get an update on this matter, currently we are told NCC are still working towards agreeing how to distribute these funds and the latest information we have received is that they are looking to have this in place once Nottinghamshire County Council publicise these details as explained on their website.

Once we have this information we will contact all those registered on our list as to next steps.

R.E.A.L Independent School Ilkeston has received its first ever Ofsted visit and achieved a brilliant overall rating of ‘Good’.

The visit took place in July this year and recognised the varied experiences the learners enjoy such as “celebrating Pride week, trips to the theatre, canoeing, and meeting Titus, the dinosaur.”

Nikki Purcell, Head of Schools said: “I’m delighted with the result we achieved. This was the third of our school inspections in just over a year and yet again our staff and learners showcased the work they do really well.”

It was noted that RIS Ilkeston “cares about each pupil as an individual” and the “relationships between staff and learners are extremely positive.”

Nikki said: “It was wonderful that the inspectors recognised how positive our relationships are with learners and their parents or carers.”

Ilkeston has helped “develop learners’ self-confidence and resilience, making them prepared for their next steps and gaining qualifications which will help them be successful in their lives.”

Nikki said: “I was lucky enough to hear parent and carer and learner feedback to inspectors during the inspection, which was at times overwhelming. Especially when one learner spoke about how his improved reading skills have impacted on his life.

I know that we make such a difference to our learners’ lives through creative re-engagement , which, as one of the parents reported, makes education a positive experience for them.”

The feedback from staff was also positive saying they’re proud to be part of the school and “leaders are supportive and considerate of their well-being and workload.”

Nikki said: “Reassuringly, the areas that inspectors identified for development were those we’d already identified and incorporated in our school improvement plan.

We’ll continue to work hard and further improve the quality of education we offer the learners who are in our care.”

Please give a warm hello to R.E.A.L’s new Head of Safeguarding and Standards, Tracey Keeling.

Tracey has a highly successful background of working in the education and social care sectors, from secondary school, pupil referral unit and college, to Nottingham City Council. Tracey has experience of being a practitioner, provider, commissioner and leader.

Tracey said: “I have an unwavering passion for wanting to make a real difference to the life chances of children and young people.

I’m a strong advocate for young people, especially those on the fringes of society who are at risk of falling through the system and failing to achieve their full potential.”

Outside of work, Tracey can be found doing yoga: “I love yoga, it’s relaxing – I can now do a head-stand and a bridge.”

When Tracey’s not learning new yoga poses, you may catch her on the TV. Tracey said: “Whilst on a march to free Nelson Mandela, I actually ended up on national TV!” What a great claim to fame!

Tracey said: “I’m also a mum to two gorgeous young people, and I love shopping.”

Tracey will be providing a high level of safeguarding and compliance support to R.E.A.L: “I’m really excited to join and looking forward to working with everyone and our learners.”

R.E.A.L. staff and learners across all sites paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, as she sadly passed away this month.

RIS Blidworth learners visited Nottingham City Hall to lay flowers and sign the book of condolences. Andy Richmond, Learning Manager said: “The learners’ tributes were so heartfelt and touching. I’m so proud of all the learners who made the trip.”

RIS Mansfield, Woodhouse Road and more Blidworth learners also went to Mansfield Civic Centre to write in the book of condolences and lay flowers too.

At all of our sites, staff and students have taken time to remember, reflect and give thanks for the Queen’s life and dedicated service.

This last school year has been jam-packed with successful stories from both learners and staff and will go down as a year that all at R.E.A.L. should be incredibly proud of.

Brilliant Ofsted reports were released for R.E.A.L. Education and Independent School Hinckley throughout the Autumn and Winter term, with both receiving an overall rating as ‘Good’. The reports were full of inspiring feedback such as describing R.E.A.L. as a school where “leaders and other staff place pupils’ personal development at the heart of the school’s work.” 

This comment is proven by even just a few of the great learner stories over this last year. From a learner being scouted for a role with Vogue Autogroup after being spotted on Instagram in October, to two learners having their own poems chosen to be published in an anthology in February.

In April, learners appeared on TV, as their amazing efforts at a local church in Mansfield were filmed by East Midlands Today. They were helping load up a van with donations to support those in Ukraine, and for R.E.A.L. this was just one of many ways all sites teamed together to help fundraise.

Fundraising has been an important part of the last year and Head of Schools at R.E.A.L. Education, Nikki Purcell, raised an amazing £700 for Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, by walking 5km a day, every day for 50 weeks during 2021! Martin Thorne, Maria Wills and Steve Quinn raised £1000 for the R.E.A.L. Foundation Trust by cycling over 150 miles over three days.

Learners have taken part in Masterchef-style cooking competitions, bumped into Paralympic swimmers, had residential trips to Lea Green, saw the Nottingham Tennis Open, had guest visits from local Police, performed to live audiences, celebrated different cultures and even fed meerkats in what can only be described as a very eventful year.

We can’t wait to see what the next year brings for everyone at R.E.A.L.

Ilkeston may be well-known for hosting one of the oldest Charter Fairs (since 1252!) but those at R.E.A.L. Independent School, Ilkeston have challenged that with a cracking summer fair for its staff and learners.

Gazebos, games and great food decorated the gardens of the Gallows Hub with lots of activities to take part in. From a tombola, to hook-a-duck, to Connect Four and face painting, there was plenty for people to get involved.

The fair received lovely feedback from learners with some of them kindly deciding to write thank you letters. Some of the comments were;

“I am writing to say how much fun the fair was, thank you for a lovely fair, we had a nice time.”

“Thank you so much for letting us have a summer fair. I loved it so much and I had a ton of fun with my friends too.”

“My favourite part was probably playing all the games on such a nice sunny day.”

“It’s a shame I didn’t get to get my face painted but that’s because I was having too much fun!”

Are you one of those people that holds onto items or a keen throw-awayer? Either way there’s not many people who may have a houseful of items that date back almost 100 years!

Mr Straw’s House is a National Trust property and has remained mostly unchanged since the Straw family moved in back in 1923.

Claire Wallett, Teaching Assistant, and her learner, McKenzie, recently visited the house as part of an engagement lesson. Claire said: “The Straws were a very wealthy family and McKenzie got to see how the rich lived 100 years ago! 

Their best clothes were worn on mannequins, very smart suits and dresses. There was a bottle of sherry and two glasses still laid on the table and newspapers and letters were piled high as Mr Straw never threw anything away.”

Claire added: “McKenzie really enjoyed looking at how items have changed over the years and decor styles, there were still tins of Heinz soup and Quality Street and Roses! He also loved being able to read little fact postcards around the house.”

At R.E.A.L. we plan learning pathways thoughtfully, including visits and experiences that bring subjects to life. 

You can learn more about our curriculum, on our website:

Kelsey Hill, Director of People & Business Operations at R.E.A.L said: “‘The website and photos capture R.E.A.L. perfectly! There are some fantastic images of students, all really engaged in their learning. For me this helps to illustrate what R.E.A.L. is all about. 

We are sure the website will help people to get to know what R.E.A.L. stands for and learn more about the wealth of provision we can offer.”

Don’t just take our word for it, check out our website for yourself

We were delighted to receive an amazing thank you letter from a parent, explaining the development and journey their daughter has had throughout their time at R.E.A.L.

The letter reads;

To REAL Independent School,

I would just like to write a few words of thanks for your service provision. My daughter is now 18 and moving onto college in September. She has been with R.E.A.L. for four years. The service we have received is second to none and I do not regret relocating for her to be able to access your tailored education provision.

Four years ago I did not see a future where she would have 4 GCSEs and qualifications in media, or having confidence to purchase items in shops, travel independently, budget her money. While she still has some difficulties, the skills she has developed that are most important have grown. This is down to the tailored provision but ultimately the staff that execute the care plan.

The staff my daughter has had have been fantastic and we would not be where we are today without their professionalism, dedication, commitment, knowledge and support.

There are not enough words to express the benefits of this programme.

I would just like to say,

Thank you.


Parent of one of our learners

This letter really does showcase the life-changing skills and differences that can be made at R.E.A.L. and how our fantastic team of staff work together to make this happen.

At R.E.A.L. Education, we believe that every child has a future. If you’re interested in how we can do this, contact us for more information at

Kelsey Hill, Director of People & Business Operations at R.E.A.L said: “‘The website and photos capture R.E.A.L. perfectly! There are some fantastic images of students, all really engaged in their learning. For me this helps to illustrate what R.E.A.L. is all about. 

We are sure the website will help people to get to know what R.E.A.L. stands for and learn more about the wealth of provision we can offer.”

Don’t just take our word for it, check out our website for yourself

Have you checked out the new R.E.A.L. website yet? If you’re yet to see it then you won’t know about the major makeover that’s taken place.

Not only has the site been modernised and made extremely user friendly, you can view all the different provisions and courses R.E.A.L. offers in detail, see the staff members that make up the team, find current vacancies and keep up to date with the latest R.E.A.L. news.

Kelsey Hill, Director of People & Business Operations at R.E.A.L said: “‘The website and photos capture R.E.A.L. perfectly! There are some fantastic images of students, all really engaged in their learning. For me this helps to illustrate what R.E.A.L. is all about. 

We are sure the website will help people to get to know what R.E.A.L. stands for and learn more about the wealth of provision we can offer.”

Don’t just take our word for it, check out our website for yourself

Since the start of 2022, R.E.A.L. set a goal to encourage learners to read more and to help improve the provision for reading across R.E.A.L. 

Michelle Farr and Chris Newman, Joint Heads of Quality of Education, as well as the rest of the leadership team would like to thank all staff for their amazing commitment to doing this.

Michelle said: “We would like to thank our staff for allowing us into sessions and encouraging learners to talk to us about their experience of reading at R.E.A.L, this is incredibly powerful!”

“It’s really encouraging that all staff recognise the important role that reading plays in accessing other areas of the curriculum and how important it is that our learners leave R.E.A.L. being able to read well. We appreciate all of the fantastic work that has been going on at all sites and within sessions to develop the love of reading.” 

“Staff have been going to great lengths to find books that match their learners’ interests and have been planning set-times for reading in every session.  As a result, learners have become more confident in reading aloud and talking about the books that they have enjoyed”.  

Deputy Heads and Learning Managers have been reading Harry Potter books daily online for learners and this means that all of our learners are being read to daily. It has also been really positive to see staff delivering the Phonics International Programme for those learners who require it.  As a result, one year 10 learner, who has been accessing a 20 minute daily phonics intervention for four weeks, has incredibly made the equivalent of nine months progress during that time.

Michelle said: “Reading will continue to remain a school improvement priority next academic year and we will work hard to embed all that we have started this year.”

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Registered address: Kingsmill House, UNIT 1, Kings Mill Way, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England, NG18 5ER