Columbus School and College

Essex, United Kingdom

Location: Essex, United Kingdom
Type: Special Needs
Funding status: State - Academy
Gender: Mixed
Age range: 3 - 19 years

About Columbus School and College

 **Please scroll to the bottom of this page to view our live vacancies**  

Columbus School and College was formerly two separate special needs schools in Chelmsford –Woodlands School in Patching Hall Lane and The Hayward School in Maltese Road.

Woodlands School served children with profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex learning difficulties aged 3–19 years. The Hayward School served children with moderate learning difficulties and autism aged 4–16.

The two schools federated in 2005 to form Chelmsford New Model Special School with a single governing body. There were two campuses – Woodlands Campus and Hayward Campus.

On the 1 September 2009 the two schools formally amalgamated to form Columbus School and College. The School Campus in Patching Hall Lane currently has pupils aged from Nursery to Year 10 and the College Campus in Oliver Way currently has students from Years 10 to 14. There is an FE Department on College Campus which has students from Year 12 to Year 14.

Graded as 'outstanding' by Ofsted in 2010 and 2014, Columbus is a leading all age special school for children and young people with severe and profound learning difficulties. The school became an academy in May 2012 and is part of Academies Enterprise Trust. Columbus delivers an outstanding education in its new, purpose-built environment.

Ethos, Aims and Expectations

‘Show respect, take responsibility, consider others and believe in yourself’

The ethos of Columbus School and College is encompassed by our community code. We believe that each and every child and young person should access the best that education and care can offer; the best possible opportunities to attain new skills in communication, independence, and social and life skills. We have high expectations for young people and do all we can to enable them to maximise their potential.

We are flexible in our approach to delivering a holistic care, therapy and learning package for every child and young person. We take into account the learning styles and preferences of each individual in order to provide personalised learning pathways. We are flexible about where and how learning takes place in order to ensure that each learner receives their full entitlement and access to a broad and balanced curriculum in a range of stimulating and engaging settings. Many of these learning and social experiences will be based in the local community.

We also aim to equip each young individual who leave the Academy with the skills they need to lead as fulfilled and as independent an adult life as appropriate.

We support and partner with families and do much to support parents and carers in getting the support, respite and any entitlements they require. Columbus works hard to ensure that support is available for families throughout the calendar year and not just during term time.  

We encourage children and young people to believe in themselves and to try their best. We aim to teach them in age-appropriate environments and help them to experience a ‘rities of passage’ as they grow through the academy and from school to college campus. We celebrate their achievements with them and publicise them where appropriate in order to perpetuate a culture of success and self-belief. 

Our Curriculum

Columbus offers a broad and varied curriculum for all children and young people. Whilst recognising the need to provide access to all the subjects and learning experiences from the National Curriculum, we acknowledge the need to combine this with a more  holistic view of learning with a focus upon a number of skills that can be challenging for our young people.

Our Key Skills Curriculum is designed to support lifelong learning, enabling us to do just that by intertwining subject specific learning experiences with opportunities to develop communication skills, problem solving skills, motor development, independence and social skills. personal, social and health skills, communication skills, applying and using mathematics, motor development, information technology skills, study skills and problem solving skills.

Our subject specific, specialist learning environments, motor therapy suites and sensory rooms support the Columbus teaching and learning teams to focus intensively upon the individual sensitivities and impairments of each child and young person in a specifically designed, supportive space. The work done in these spaces is heavily supported by our resident Therapists and their Assistants with much of what is designed and delivered in these specialist rooms being transferred into the classroom throughout the school week.

Community-based learning features on every child and young person’s timetable every week. We believe that the earlier we start social and independence building skills, the more chance at success we have for the future. Community-based learning experiences include basic travel training, visits to the local shops, horse riding or perhaps even a visit to the hairdressers! For our younger children, we make visits that relate to early learning or mobility skills or visits to places that link to a topic or project.

Our older students access learning and social opportunities in the local community that will aid them to enter the world of work or help them to access independent or semi-independent living. Experiences for our older students include college placements, travel training, health and fitness, the exploration of new hobbies and interests as well as activities relating to independent living tasks and routines.

Columbus extends its curriculum to offer education journeys both abroad and within the UK in order to broaden our young people's learning and social experiences.


We judged to be an ' outstanding school' and we were last inspected in July 2014. To view all our Ofsted reports please click  here 

Our Trust 

We are proud to be part of Academies Enterprise Trust.  

We are a national network of over 60 primary, special and secondary academies. We are passionately committed to inspiring children and young people. 

We’ve undergone considerable change over the last two years. Bar the name above the door, everything about AET has changed: our leadership; our governance; our financial controls; our school improvement and our curriculum support. 

AET is well on its way to becoming something rather wonderful – we are a family of schools that is dedicated to education that paves the way for our young people go on to lead remarkable lives. And it’s our people who are making that a living and breathing reality in our academies.


Each and every child inspired to choose a Remarkable Life.


To gather and motivate inspirational people committed to delivering an excellent education that launches children into remarkable lives.



At AET, we choose to be unusually brave. We're not afraid to challenge wrongs, to make the right call, even when it's both unusual and difficult to do so.


We are on the search for discovering what's possible. We look to create 'eureka moments' for our students, helping them discover a world of possibilities and opportunities.


We always strive to push the limits. We don't settle for less than excellent and we won't allow our students to either. We resolve to overcome any self-imposed limits.


We commit to being big-hearted. We choose to treat each other with kindness, warmth and care, believing that everybody matters and believing in one another.

AET is also an approved Apprenticeship Training Provider (through the ESFA) which allows us to deliver a wide range of apprenticeship programmes across the Trust and our school network. To find out more about what we offer click here

We also offer School Direct teacher training programmes across our network. For more information please click here.

To find out more about about AET please visit us at

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Address: Columbus School Campus, Oliver Way, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 4ZB, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 1245 491492
Positions available at Columbus School and College