The Quay School Harbourside Campus

Harbourside Vocational Base

Equipping students with core skills in literacy and numeracy and industry standard vocational qualifications, along with the confidence and aspiration to take more control over their own future.


Thank you for taking a few moments to read more about The Quay School and in particular, our Harbourside Base. It’s important to us that our name includes the word ‘school’ because education is at the heart of everything we do.

Whatever barriers to learning they might have when they come through our doors, the children entering The Quay School are immediately embraced by a team committed to helping them overcome whatever obstacles make it difficult for them to achieve.

We operate a child-centred approach to education, taking personalised learning to a new level by creating unique learning plans for each student. The results we have achieved from our methods speak for themselves: in just a few years we have won huge respect from stakeholders and partners in the local area. 

One very tangible sign of our success is the progress of our students after leaving The Quay School. In 2013, 97% were in further education, employment or training.

Who is the Harbourside base for?

The Harbourside Vocational Base is a unique educational environment where students learn and develop practical skills with the objective of achieving recognised qualifications, such as City & Guilds, with built-in progression to further education or employment. Alongside this learning, we work with students to develop their emotional literacy and communication skills.

The Harbourside Base provides a safe, secure and positive environment for students who have been permanently excluded, or are at risk of permanent exclusion, from mainstream schools. Their struggle to engage with education often reflects a fear of failure and low self-esteem, which our solution-focussed approach enables them to overcome.

We recognise that for some children a classroom environment is not the solution, which is why we are developing alternative education strategies, such as the Aweigh School and a range of vocational courses.

Our facilities at Harbourside

  • Sports hall, recently fully equipped to allow activities such as circuit training. 
  • Construction workshop, where students learn practical skills, such as building and decorating.
  • Hairdressing salon, providing opportunities to master skills needed in the beauty industry.
  • Mechanics workshop, hugely popular with students who enjoy working on motor vehicles.
  • Catering kitchen, managed by a fully-qualified chef.
  • Land-based studies zone, an outdoor space used for horticulture.
  • Quiet room, giving students space to think away from the buzz of other activities.

Our approach

Nurturing aspiration is embedded in The Quay School ethos, and we make a strong connection between positive outcomes and future employment and training opportunities for our students. 

The specific needs of every student are assessed, leading to an individual education plan. This is built around both the student’s current circumstances and their future ambitions. Our Information, Advice and Guidance coordinator is involved in the very first meeting, asking the question: “Where do you want to go?”

We work with the student to overcome barriers to personal success. For many, literacy is a big hurdle, and therefore is a priority for us. 

One student’s reading age  jumped from 6 to 14 in a single term. Our aim is for all students to achieve a qualification in literacy and numeracy, whether that is  GCSEs or functional skills.

Students participate in a broad programme of enrichment which includes Employability Skills, Personal & Social Development, art, dance, orienteering, drama and active sports and leisure.

Engaging with parents/carers

We work hard to build a strong relationship with the parents and carers of our students, because we recognise that education is not a 9-3.30pm activity. It’s  important to us that parents and carers can walk into the school at any time to discuss their hopes, concerns and frustrations. We count parents and carers as part of our team. 

These relationships help establish trust within the community of which we are a part and help students to understand the value of education in the context of their wider life.


We provide an aspirational curriculum that prepares students for the next stage of life after school, typically education, employment or training. 

Following this route will lead to industry recognised qualifications at certificate or diploma level, alongside work related learning, English & Maths.

Key Stage 4 curriculum

All Key Stage 4 students take at least one vocational course in: Hospitality & Catering, Hair & Beauty, Sport & Active Leisure, Angling & the Environment, Construction Skills, Mechanics. In addition, they learn Functional Literacy, Functional Numeracy, Functional ICT skills, PSD, Work Related Learning and Sport.
Enrichment opportunities include photography, drama, cooking and orienteering.

Curriculum outcomes

Our aim is for students to achieve Level 2 in their chosen vocational course and the functional skills courses. The nature of our provision means that students can come to us at any stage during Key Stage 4. We adopt a flexible approach to our curriculum, giving them the best opportunity of progressing successfully to the next stage of life after school.