The physiotherapy service at Keelman’s Way School has been developed to be a highly integrated service incorporated seamlessly into the children’s learning programme. The service is delivered through a team of specialist physiotherapists, assistants and a specialist Higher Level Teaching Assistant.  A neurodevelopmental approach is used in the assessment, planning and general physical management of the children with physical problems and motor programmes are integrated into the school activities including physical education, hydrotherapy, rebound therapy and individualised therapy treatments. The physiotherapists form part of a multi-disciplinary team developing an innovative, integrated approach to working with all our children with complex needs in the educational setting. Physiotherapy can be fun and the team work hard to provide stimulating and rewarding activities that challenge the children and extend their abilities.

Jillian Mordue, School Physiotherapy HLTA

An Integrated Approach

It is generally recognised that children with complex needs can achieve their potential more effectively when education and therapeutic care can be integrated. At Keelman’s Way this approach is supported throughout the school by the therapeutic teams, the teachers and classroom support staff. This enables the children to develop their physical, sensory and communication abilities as part of the educational curriculum in a consistent and structured way and facilitates the generalisation of these skills into all aspects of the pupils daily life.


Emma Reed – Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist

This process of integration is also extended to the collaborative approach with families, other therapists, respite and care organisations, social workers and other professionals involved in supporting our pupils. Orthotics and wheelchair services are provided on site and individualised equipment provision for school and for the home setting can be assessed at school if required. Families and all support and educational staff are encouraged to participate in this process when required. The specialist HLTA has responsibility to co-ordinate these processes and liaise with the individuals and teams involved. Physiotherapy is also responsible for liaison with medical practitioners across the region including the pupils GPs, consultant surgeons, consultant paediatricians, spasticity management specialists etc… The physiotherapists and particularly the HLTA maintain a close partnership with the parents and provide advice and support as needed. Home visits form an integral part of this support system, where advice on managing practical issues is offered and equipment provided when necessary.


Sheila McKenna – Physiotherapist Assistant

Individualised Therapy Sessions

The majority of the physiotherapy management of pupils is integrated into the classroom and general school settings, but some individualised sessions may be required to establish base line abilities, or develop specific therapeutic targets, or to assist with on-going rehabilitation following surgery. The dedicated physiotherapy environment and designated specialist HLTA enables this to be achieved with minimum impact to the pupil’s on-going education and minimal disruption to the class involved. This process also enables multi-disciplinary assessments and shared goal setting targets to be established in a setting where distractions for the pupil can be kept to a minimum and realistic, functional goals established.


Hydrotherapy             Physiotherapy 2

The school has an excellent hydrotherapy pool where a range of activities are provided by the physiotherapy team including relaxation and reduction of increased muscle tone. All staff are trained in the ‘Halliwick Method’ which enables pupils to develop confidence in the water and control of their bodies. The facility is also utilised to deliver rehabilitation following surgery when required


An orthotic clinic is available every week at school and attended by a Senior Orthotist, physiotherapists and the HLTA. Parents are welcome to attend to discuss any orthotic problems and training and demonstrations are provided for the application of the orthotic devices as required.


Helen McCormack- Orthotist


Wheelchair Services

Wheelchair clinics are provided regularly clinics in school by South Tyneside Foundation Trust’s Wheelchair Services Team. This service includes assessments of the children’s needs, provision of wheelchairs and ongoing reviews of the equipment provided. Adaptations are provided as necessary and all of those involved with the children are encouraged to participate in the process to achieve the best possible outcome. The service is also provided during school holidays at the child’s home, or at the Wheelchair Services Clinic at South Tyneside Hospital, if necessary. Repairs to wheelchairs/buggies are also provided at school by Mediquip.


Jayne Winskill,Wheelchair Therapist, Andy Storey, Rehabilitation Engineer


Physiotherapy has close connections with South Tyneside Community Adult Learning Disability Service and provides support for the older children in transition. Keelman’s Way School has strong links with South Tyneside Educational College and has assisted in the development of a similar approach to the integration of therapies in the adult educational setting.