About Ian Mikardo High School

Ian Mikardo High School is a centre of excellence for educating vulnerable young people. We put the needs of the individual at the heart of what we do, recognising that each person faces their own unique set of challenges.

An education should open up the world beyond the classroom. Our creative and flexible curriculum allows us to engage each student according to their particular history and circumstance. We build confidence and help students learn to trust. We support students emotionally whilst equipping them with the practical and academic skills for leading happy and fulfilled lives. We help our students overcome the challenges of their past and teach them that they are the future.

Come with a past, leave with a future

Our School At A Glance

Inspiring the next generation to build a life for themselves and a world for the future

A Creative Curriculum

We harness our students’ imaginations with thoughtfully devised projects that encourage creativity and independent thinking, whilst equipping them with a strong foundation for their future.

  • we constantly find new, exciting ways to inspire, engage and educate our students
  • we ensure that education is holistic, and that each project equips students with skills that are analytical, social, and practical
  • our educators and members of staff work together, contributing their own expertise to these diverse and enriching projects

Understanding the individual

We put the individual at the centre of our educational approach and work flexibly, empathetically, and creatively to connect with each and every one of our students on a personal level.

  • we all learn differently
  • we are a product of the challenges we have faced
  • we all come with our own set of needs

Cultivating independence

Education should equip young people to thrive as independent, happy adults.

  • the development of social skills is deemed as important as academic skills
  • practical life skills form a crucial and applied part of each project
  • students leave confident and enthusiastic about cultivating a life for themselves

Building Community

We believe that by empowering our students as individuals, they will contribute to and strengthen the wider community.

  • supporting the families and carers of our students
  • collaborating with local businesses and authorities, and finding ways in which our students can gain a wealth of experience by contributing to the community’s needs
  • sharing our wonderful facilities with community minded groups and initiatives

Communication over conflict

We champion communication not only as a means of resolving conflict, but to equip our students with the means for negotiating adverse situations in a positive way.

  • actively demonstrate that issues are best resolved by talking, rather than with physical, aggressive behaviour
  • equip students with the ability to check themselves, thus preparing them for life outside of the school building
  • empower them to take ownership of their actions, and navigate the difficult situations they will undoubtedly face

Celebrating difference

We take pride in the diversity of our school community, and engender solidarity through core principles of mutual respect and understanding.

  • by weaving our community’s wealth of creeds and cultures into the fabric and language of our curriculum
  • by learning to listen to one another, and accept that individuals may not always agree but can nevertheless get along
  • through our recognition and celebration of one another’s differences

Our Curriculum

Equipping learners with social, emotional and educational skills to live fulfilled lives at home, at work, and within the community

Putting the individual first

The flexibility and breadth of our curriculum allows every student to excel according to what inspires and motivates them. The strictures of a mainstream education have proved alienating and ill-suited to the specialist needs of our students. At IMHS, we believe in adventuring beyond the conventions of the classroom, opening up the wider world along the way.

We strike a balance between formal class-based learning and practical exercises away from desks. We revel in the opportunity to be creative, innovative, and imaginative. Preparing our students to live independently as healthy, happy, fulfilled adults is the driving force behind all that we do.

Putting the individual first

The flexibility and breadth of our curriculum allows every student to excel according to what inspires and motivates them. The strictures of a mainstream education have proved alienating and ill-suited to the specialist needs of our students. At IMHS, we believe in adventuring beyond the conventions of the classroom, opening up the wider world along the way.

We strike a balance between formal class-based learning and practical exercises away from desks. We revel in the opportunity to be creative, innovative, and imaginative. Preparing our students to live independently as healthy, happy, fulfilled adults is the driving force behind all that we do.

Three key areas

Our curriculum comprises three areas: My Foundation, My Being, and Our World. Each area is designed to develop analytical, social, and practical skills. Each area offers the opportunity to work towards qualifications. Each area addresses an essential aspect of an individual’s existence, both in relation to themselves and to the wider community.

No area is entirely discrete; we combine them in thoughtfully devised projects that allow students to work together whilst continuing to work on the areas and interests best suited to them.

Intensive support and equal opportunity

Our student to staff ratio ensures that we work closely with individuals, adapting our educational strategy accordingly and setting attainable goals. We are able to offer flexible access to one-to-one support, and constantly review our practices, implementing changes of tack and fresh ideas when necessary.

Each area has a leader who oversees their area’s core elements and co-ordinates with the other area leaders to make sure that the different aspects of learning complement one another, providing students with a well-rounded education. Our intensive support is crucial for building trust and confidence, without which building a solid foundation for their future would not be possible.

A holistic education

The curriculum at Ian Mikardo is a ‘Needs Based, Skills Focused and Learner Centred’ model, focused on the development of skills and personal attributes that combine to equip learners with the social, emotional and educational skills to live fulfilled lives at home, in the workplace and within the community.

Our curricular approach is based on the principles of Bronfenbrenner’s ‘Bio-ecological Model of Child Development’. The model describes human development as a transactional process through which growth is influenced by interactions with various aspects and ‘spheres’ of the environment. Bronfenbrenner’s model encourages us to consider how the interaction between the individual and their environment shapes and moulds perceptions, attitudes and aspirations, as they progress through the developmental phases of their lives.

Further information can be found here.

For a full and detailed specification of our school’s curriculum, please see here

Key Staff & Trustees

Key Staff

Jonty Clark
Interim CEO

Aaron Mulhern
Head Teacher

Lisa Tharpe
Deputy Head (IMHS) Trust Safeguarding and Compliance Reporting Lead

Tracey Headlam
Assistant Head Teacher

Lynn St Phillip-Ross
Lead Welfare and Inclusion Practitioner
Designated Safeguarding Lead

Karen Raftery
Head of Sixth Form, Head of Careers

Hazeera Begum
Attendance and Welfare Coordinator
Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Muriel Finney
Office Manager

Jason Levine
Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead
Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Trustees of Ian Mikardo High School

Chair Trustee: Chris Weavers

Chris Weavers works for the NASUWT, the teachers’ union, where he leads the union’s political engagement as well as relationships with a wide range of external organisations domestically and internationally. He previously worked for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, advising and supporting the local authority’s majority group on policy and political matters. Outside work, Chris is very active in governance of public bodies, addressing issues including education, crime and housing and is also a trustee of a number of local and national charities.

Babu Bhatteracherjee

Helal Ahmed

Aaron Mulhern

Aaron was educated at St Joseph's Secondary School in Derry City, Ireland. His experience there gave him a meaningful, positive grounding in the value of others, a sense of always working towards being a better person and contributing whatever talent he had to the benefit of the community and society. His hope is to live up to that aspiration. In Derry, Aaron learned that the value of education isn't about 'being the best' but being 'your best'. He feels lucky to have experienced some wonderfully committed teachers working in difficult circumstances, setting him on the path of emulating their example.

In 2003, after studying at St. Mary's College in Strawberry Hill, Aaron had the opportunity to work at IMHS and did so for three years, as the Numeracy & Literacy coordinator. He then left to train as a Physiotherapist. Aaron has always been captivated by the ethos, spirit and practices of IMHS school and so he jumped at the chance to return in 2012. He accepted the position as Teacher of Maths and has had roles as leader of the 'My Passport' Dept.; Deputy Head Teacher; and now leader of the school.

Aaron's aspirations for the school mirror the aspirations of his own teachers in his formative years and those of IMHS, hitherto lead by Claire Lillis since 2002. Aaron believes in the importance of recognising the value and talents of the students and staff in our community and helping them grow through their challenges, in pursuit of a meaningful and purposeful future. He is committed to supporting our students who come with a past, to leave with a future.

Our Success

A strong and consistent record of
‘Outstanding School’
Awards granted by Ofsted

Ofsted monitoring Inspection (2022)

In March 2022, Francis Gonzalez, Lead inspector confirmed Ian Mikardo's outstanding status once again, stating "These parents said that the school is making a positive difference to their child’s life. Pupils appreciate the care and support that staff give them and feel safe and secure in school. They also appreciate the wider opportunities the school provides, such as trips to London Zoo, the forest school and local parks. The wider curriculum experiences enhance pupils’ enjoyment of school."

Ofsted monitoring Inspection (2016)

In November 2016, Her Majesty's Inspector, Lesley Cox, confirmed Ian Mikardo's outstanding status. She found safeguarding to be effective and noted that, "The school is a happy and well-ordered place to learn." She added: "All leaders constantly check that their actions are making a difference. They are united in believing that their pupils deserve only the very best. This is reflected in the high quality of provision that is offered and the excellent care and support pupils receive."

Ofsted Outstanding School Award (2014)

In June 2014 we received our third consecutive Outstanding award. The Inspector praised the outstanding quality of teaching, and noted that students respond readily to the sensitive and calm approach of our staff, and that the Head Teacher - backed by the governing body and a committed staff - has ensured that students are helped to make outstanding progress.

Ofsted Outstanding School Award (2008/9)

In March 2009, we received a second Outstanding award for providing our students with an excellent education. Her Majesty’s Inspector, Melvyn Blackband praised the exceptional leadership by the Head Teacher, the excellent standards of teaching and an interesting curriculum.

Ofsted Outstanding School Award (2005/6)

We received our first outstanding award in June 2006 for being a “fine and rare example of excellent practice in a school of this type.” Her Majesty’s Inspector, Glenys Fox, also praised the way the school works very effectively to address the negative experiences many pupils have had in their previous schools.

Ofsted Outstanding School

Ofsted Report

View Report Here

School Performance Tables

Since converting to academy: View Table Here

Prior to converting to academy: View Table Here

Careers Programme

Preparing our students for working life is integral to our curriculum

Key Contacts

Careers Leader:
Karen Raftery

Sparking passion and cultivating skills

Preparing our students for working life is integral to our curriculum. From the moment they join our school our careers leader, Karen Raftery, gets to know each student’s strengths and interests. We tailor learning and activities to the individual. We seek to inspire our students, unearth vocations, and equip them with the transferrable skills necessary for realising their interests in the working world.

By embedding our careers programme in our curriculum, we ensure that careers are not thought of as some distant future separate to one’s education. All staff play an active part in preparing students to live as confident, independent adults. Over the years, we have cultivated links with a diverse range of employers. These connections provide our students with invaluable opportunities to develop skills, spark interest, and contribute to the wider community.

Careers programme - an overview

Our multifaceted careers programme includes:

  • The application of academic skills to real life contexts
  • A plethora of vocational qualifications
  • A regular programme of talks given by people of industry, designed to inspire and open up a world of possibilities
  • Enriching trips to workplaces within the local and wider community, including opportunities to ‘have a go’ for themselves
  • Work placements and organised courses that provide valuable experience and the chance to learn new skills
  • A carefully designed series of workshops dedicated to preparing students for working life
  • Enterprise schemes driven by the students, building confidence in entrepreneurialism and showcasing their creative skills

All students will:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their potential and their passion
  • Gain a greater knowledge of the wealth of opportunities open to them
  • Understand the labour market and the requirements and expectations of employers
  • Improve their employability, gaining confidence in soft skills alongside of practical skills
  • Learn to prioritise their future, be prepared to weather change, and be supported through key transition periods

Careers programme - year by year

Year 7 – New Beginnings

Helping students learn about themselves, their interests and their strengths is an important part of supporting them in their transition from primary to secondary school. During this year they complete a self-assessment and self-development journal mapping the development of their skills. We also introduce crucial concepts and terminology to do with the workplace at this early stage, including discussions and lessons about tax, wage slips, and the cost of living.

Year 8 – Exploring the Workplace

At this stage, we introduce students to the mechanics of the workplace. In their exploration of the world of work, they gain an understanding of employers’ expectations and the labour market, as well as beginning to build the key and soft skills needed for employment.

Year 9 – Unearthing Vocations

In order to help students discover what types of work inspire them, we have a rich and diverse programme of courses, workshops, and visits to careers fairs to present them with a multitude of careers options. Whether it be a life course run by the London Fire Brigade or a course in coding, by drawing on our many connections to people in industry, we ensure that students have every opportunity to discover their vocation.

Year 10 – Mastering Applications

During the course of this year, students participate in a programme carefully designed to help them apply to their place or position of choice, whether that be a job, placement or college. Each will learn how to write a personal statement, a CV, and a cover letter, as well as being coached in interview technique. These practical skills will equip students to secure work placements that they will undertake in sixth form.

Year 11 – Preparation for Progression

In this year we concentrate on supporting students in making vital decisions about their future. Through a programme of education, information and one-on-one guidance, we help each seriously consider and explore their options. We present them with a range of opportunities for further learning and qualification, including sixth form, FE College, apprenticeships and school leaver programmes. By connecting with each individual, taking into account their strengths and interests, we support them in effective decision-making and plans for their future.

Year 12 – Gaining Work Experience

Students attend a work placement in their chosen field 1-2 days a week for the duration of the academic year. These placements help them to work towards a BTEC Vocational Qualification, allowing them to create a portfolio of evidence for individual units.

Year 13 – Finding Focus

In their final year at IMHS, we aim to set students firmly on their future paths. Each attends a course 3 days a week, selected on the basis of their chosen vocation. In the 2 other days of the school week, their learning and activities are geared towards developing the core and soft skills necessary for their chosen career.

SEN Support

Leaders in educating young people with special needs

We are a special school for young people with learning difficulties and social, emotional and mental health issues. IMHS’s provision for special needs is comprehensive. Our practice is trauma informed; knowing and understanding our students’ backgrounds is an important first step in supporting their emotional welfare and their education.

We have a dedicated specialist in communication and interaction whose expertise includes working with those with autistic disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, and speech and language difficulties. We provide support for students with cognition and learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Building a relationship with parents and carers is crucial to helping our students progress. We have a range of strategies designed to cultivate these relationships and to ensure an individual’s education is supported outside of school. We also take an active interest in the welfare of students’ parents, and have a dedicated Welfare and Family Support Practioner who lends a helping hand and understanding where needed.