TUCKED away in the hills above Monmouth is a charming school where pupils enjoy breath-taking surroundings, small, intimate classes and teachers committed to their students’ futures.

Talocher School, near the village of Wonastow, a few miles from Monmouth, is situated on the site of an old farm, with the former farmhouse converted into classrooms.

The school specialises in providing education and support to young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

Headteacher Kelly Corcoran explained what the school offered its pupils.

“What we do is nurture young people who’ve had traumatic experiences, whether they’re educational experiences that have gone awry or life experiences that haven’t been pleasant”, Ms Corcoran said.

“When they come here they experience a therapeutic environment that is all about meeting their needs.”

The school can currently cater for up to 55 pupils.

Head of lower school, Owen Marshall, said the school had grown from strength to strength.

“When I started here ten years ago there were just 13 pupils, all in secondary education, but in the last five or six years we’ve opened a primary school and extended our secondary school age to 19."

Because it is a small school and each pupil has their own needs, Talocher’s teachers are able to adapt the syllabus to make things more enjoyable for the students.

“Our curriculum is based around the pupils – we’re really flexible for our timetable, making sure we hit all the national guidelines but tailoring it to the needs of our pupils", Mr Marshall said.

“For example, if a pupil likes horse riding we’ll look at doing equine studies on the course.

“Our focus for the younger pupils is about social development. Things like being in a classroom without arguing, talking to somebody without getting wound up, managing their emotions.

“We’ve got a diverse range of staff, people who work really well with the pupils.”

There are more than 50 staff at the school, meaning pupils are always well supported, in and out of the classroom.

“We’ve got almost one member of staff for every young person here”, Ms Corcoran said.

“That includes the wider staff like the therapy team and the administrative staff. We’ve even got a chef – our pupils are really involved in the food choices we have at lunchtime.

“Our chef is amazing at making sure they are well fed and enjoying their food, as well as making it nutritious.”

Having so many staff means the school can teach small, close-knit groups of five or six pupils, who can form close bonds with each other and their teachers.

“It really works to make sure young people are able to make secure attachments and build trusting relationships”, Ms Corcoran said.

“Our staff are great at being really creative, for Halloween the lower school decked out the whole department, it was like a ghost train, it was completely immersive.”

While Talocher School may be set in remote surroundings, its pupils are anything but isolated. They regularly take part in community activities in and around Monmouth.

“Our older pupils are out and about experiencing their history, their geography, and living it as opposed to sitting there and being told about it”, Ms Corcoran said.

“Being a small school means we can make learning not just fun but real and engaging.”

Talocher’s pupils have held art shows in the town church and regularly go to local leisure centres, as well as taking part in outdoor activities like kayaking, horse riding and fishing.

Local business and organisations have been “incredibly understanding”, Ms Corcoran said, when offering pupils work experience opportunities, as well as links to colleges and universities, giving the children the best possible preparation for life after Talocher.

“These links are key to their success”, Mr Marshall said.

“We’re very considerate when our young people leave us. Everyone puts the effort in to make sure the transition is smooth.”

The school is even working with a local driving instructor to help one student pass her test.

“What other school can provide that level of opportunity? We’re fortunate to be able to provide that”, Ms Corcoran said.

So what makes Talocher School such a special place to work?

“For me it’s the successes that our young people have”, Ms Corcoran said.

“To the untrained eye these successes may look small and insignificant, but when you know that young person and how big that step is for them, no matter how small it is, it makes everything worthwhile."