Strategic plan

How we provide this information

The 2019 to 2024 Strategic Plan is provided below in an accessible web document.

You can also Download the Strategic Plan 2019-2024 as a PDF

Welcome from Jane Bell CEO

WESC Foundation has a proud history of providing education and care services to children and young people with a visual impairment for more than 175 years in the city of Exeter in Devon.  Since the 1960s this has been from our campus on the Topsham Road near Countess Wear.

Our focus and expertise has changed and developed over recent years with a particular emphasis on visual impairment and complex additional needs.  We have a specialist knowledge of cortical visual impairment (CVI) and use this to ensure that our learning methods and environments maximise functional vision. All of our young people have additional challenges alongside their visual impairment, including learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning disabilities, other sensory loss, long term health conditions and life limiting illness. This makes us a unique national resource, and young people come to us from across the UK. It also makes what we now do much more challenging and complex to deliver.

In the past five years WESC Foundation has extended its range of services to reflect that many of our young people will need ongoing specialist support to live a fulfilling adult life. We have a specialist adult residential care centre, adult day services and supported living houses.  We also have a pioneering social enterprise department, which enables our young people to access opportunities for work experience, work placements and supported internships. We believe WESC Foundation’s unique and highly-specialised range of services are vital to enable young people with multiple challenges to prepare for adult life in the community.

We are an ambitious organisation – we want to use our expertise to support more people in different ways and develop new services. We work in a difficult and very regulated space. Special education and adult social care in the UK face significant financial pressures. Regulatory changes have increased the requirements placed on providers, meaning that it is a constant challenge to deliver services that are both high quality but also offer good value.

This strategic plan sets out the way we intend to approach these challenges, and how over the next five years we will make sure we get the basics right, whilst still reaching towards innovation, improvement and expansion. The document is focussed on what is most important to our young people and their families, and what will deliver the best impact and outcomes for them.

We are committed to this plan and we look forward to working with you to make it a reality.

About WESC Foundation

WESC Foundation offers a range of educational, care and support services to young people and adults with visual impairment and complex needs.  Our services include:

Education provision

We operate an independent special school (5-16 yrs) and college (16-25yrs) offering:

  • full time day and residential placements for a 38 week academic year in school and college
  • part time or split placements in school or college
  • additional (up to 14 weeks) residential support within a 52 week placement
  • supported internships, work experience and work placements

Adult care & support services

  • full time nursing and residential care in St David’s House,
  • our on-site specialist adult care home
  • on-site and off-site supported living services
  • adult day support services for young adults living in the community
  • residential respite and short breaks

Work placements & vocational training

We aim to give all the young people we support opportunities

  • to access work and volunteering through:
  • work experience and work placements for students and young people in the community, including in our own retail and horticulture enterprises, and in partnership with others
  • supported internships combining education, employability skills training and work experience as a stepping stone to paid employment or volunteering

Therapy, mobility & health services

We offer specialist support from our in-house teams including:

  • therapeutic services covering speech and language, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and psychological support
  • mobility instruction and support from our specialist ROVI (Rehabilitation Officer of the Visually Impaired) team
  • health care support from our own nursing team, working together with local specialist visiting clinics and GP services

WESC Foundation’s Vision, Mission and Values

Our Vision

A world where young people with visual impairment and additional needs are able to take their place in society, where they are valued for their contribution and their rights and independence are supported.

Our Mission

WESC Foundation’s mission is to empower children, young people and adults with visual impairment and additional needs to live fulfilling young and adult lives, through the delivery of a range of education, care and support services.

To succeed in our mission we will:

  • provide outstanding services centred around our young people
  • make best use of our specialist knowledge of visual impairment and complex needs
  • work in partnership with others
  • be a resilient, innovative and ambitious organisation and a great employer

Our Community Values

The things that our young people feel are most important

The right support to learn and develop

  • “Learning & trying new things”
  • “Friendly staff and great teachers”
  • “Developing confidence & independence”
  • “Meeting my needs”

A sense of belonging

  • “Being part of a team”
  • “Feeling accepted”
  • “Welcoming new people”
  • “Friends & friendships”

Enjoyment and fun

  • “Enjoying life & doing lots of things”
  • “Socialising & laughing”
  • “Having a good time”
  • “A happy place to be”

Respect and kindness

  • “Being kind to each other”
  • “Listening to each other”
  • “Being polite & helpful”
  • “Being positive”

Our Operational Values

How we work together as a staff team

Together everyone achieves more (TEAM)

By working together we achieve more for our young people and more as an organisation. We have more ideas and find better solutions when we combine our knowledge, skills and experience.

Learning happens everywhere

We create an environment where learning happens all the time in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways.  Everyone has a role to play in supporting learning and helping our young people to progress.

Even better if…

We strive to improve and to do more and to do better for our young people. We take action where things fall below our expectations. We see challenge as a learning opportunity. Everyone contributes to quality.

Celebrate what you want to see more of

We value the efforts and achievements of others. We celebrate the good stuff and find joy in the wow moments. We nurture a culture where positivity, pro-activity, caring and kindness flourish between us all.

Our impact

We want the impact of our work to mean that in adult life, young people who have been to WESC Foundation are…

  • Living healthy lives with good mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Advocating for themselves independently or with support
  • Following their passions and doing things that they really enjoy
  • Living as independently as they are able, with the right level of support
  • Able to use their money and to make decisions about spending to improve their lives
  • In work, volunteer roles or engaged in valued activities
  • Using technology effectively to support and enhance daily life
  • Making choices about all aspects of their lives, to the fullest extent possible
  • Maximising their functional vision
  • Being active citizens in their community
  • Travelling within their community, with just enough support
  • Enjoying relationships with family & friends & meeting new people through a variety of social opportunities
  • Using their voice about things that matter to them

Our starting point – where we are now

This new strategic plan comes at a time when WESC Foundation is in a challenging position.

We have big ambitions but also have to get the basics right.  We operate in a sector undergoing massive reform whilst under huge financial pressure.

It is from this starting point that our new Strategic Plan seeks to take WESC Foundation forward.

Our charity

WESC Foundation has been through an exceptional period of internal change during the period of the last strategic plan (2016-2019) including a complete refresh of the trustee board, significant changes to the senior leadership team and the appointment of a new CEO in January 2018.

We have much greater clarity about our financial situation and are in a stable position in the short term. We remain dependent on unpredictable fee income with a need to invest in our infrastructure.

Our July 2019 Ofsted inspection was disappointing, and the improvement of our provision is an absolute priority.

Our young people

During 2018/2019 we had 13 students in school and 34 students in college, including 2 on supported internships (five years ago we had 62 students on roll, so this is a drop of 31 %). Additionally, we supported 110 individuals (children, young people and adults) through educational and community outreach.

During 2018/2019 we supported 20 adults (aged 2031) in our residential care setting. 11 individuals were using our adult day services and 13 were living in our supported living accommodation.

All the young people we support have a visual impairment and other additional needs. 55 % of our young people would be described as having complex needs or profound and multiple disabilities.

The special education sector

The prevalence of pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities is increasing.  As at January 2018 the number of statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and statements of special educational needs (SEN) for children and young people was 319,819. This is an increase of 11.3% from January 2017, notably in the 16-19 and 20-25 age groups.

High needs funding for children with SEND is under huge pressure.  Changes to the high needs funding formula in 2018 has left many local authorities in deficit.  There has been an increased use of placements in the non-maintained sector particularly in post 16 provision, attributed to mainstream schools struggling to provide adequate support for SEND students, and increased parental preference for independent specialist settings.

Non-maintained special schools such as WESC Foundation often specialise in specific low incident/high complexity conditions. The average cost of a place is significantly higher than the cost in a maintained school and some local authorities perceive the independent sector negatively on the grounds of cost and quality.

There has been significant flux in the non-maintained SEN provider market. Some large groups have emerged owning several schools/colleges. In the sensory sector, some key organisations have significantly scaled back their education provision. There is an increasing trend for providers to extend their range of services to include destination services for adults and/or to provide a more generic service, rather than specialising. There is a new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework from September 2019, and regulatory and contract compliance requirements have increased over recent years.

Strengths, challenges and opportunities…

Our strengths

  • A committed and energetic senior leadership team and an engaged Board of
  • Our specialist VI knowledge and how we use it to improve functional vision (through our unique curriculum and integrated approach to learning).
  • Our ethos, values and commitment to our young
  • The location and specialist facilities of our campus and other outdoor spaces.
  • Specialist in-house teams of teaching, therapy and care staff
  • A stable financial
  • Our holistic and multidisciplinary
  • The extended range of services we offer and continuity of support post-education.
  • Our work placement
  • Our links to research and


  • We have the opportunity and potential to be the best care and education provider for young people with visual impairment and complex needs and the leader in this
  • Our specialist knowledge of VI, CVI and complex needs is a valuable asset that we can use in new ways, including offering specialist CVI and functional vision assessments to parents and
  • We have very few direct competitors in the VI and complex needs sector so have a unique
  • There is growing demand for our adult
  • Our work skills programmes are pioneering and could be extended to adults with visual impairment, using West Hill and our retail
  • There are opportunities to expand our outreach into mainstream schools.
  • We have known opportunities to fund our capital works

Internal challenges

  • Our July 2019 Ofsted ratings are low and safeguarding must be improved.
  • The culture of the organisation is not yet fully aligned with our
  • Our accommodation buildings are dated and need
  • Space in classrooms for our complex students can be restrictive and education space is divided over the
  • We find it difficult to recruit staff in our residential care
  • We need to demonstrate greater effectiveness and value to our commissioners.
  • Our VI specialist knowledge is held by a small number of people and requires effective succession
  • We are widely perceived as only a school/college and recognition of the WESC Foundation name is
  • We have a small supporter base for
  • There has been an inconsistent approach to managing performance and dealing with

External Challenges

  • There is a significant pressure on high needs SEN funding which may prevent placements with
  • Local authorities may favour services within their local area and mainstream placements for young people with a visual impairment maybe a cheaper/more attractive alternative, even if they do not offer specialist
  • Recruitment into care roles is a crisis across the
  • Competition from other providers developing some VI
  • Increasing regulation and contract compliance obligations with no increased
  • The independent specialist schools and colleges sector can be viewed
  • Some local authorities may not commission placements with providers who are not rated Good or above by Ofsted and/or CQC

Our 2019-2024 objectives at a glance

Improve Education

We will offer a personalised preparation towards leading a fulfilling adult life through our school and college provision and education outreach.

Use our knowledge

We will share our knowledge and resources with our local community, with professionals and within our sector so that more people can benefit from our work and expertise.

Strengthen the organisation

We will be a well led, effective and sustainable organisation and a great employer.

Develop the campus

We will modernise and create improved spaces on our campus which promote independence and enhance learning and living at WESC Foundation.

Expand adult care

We will support young people and adults to live an independent and fulfilling life in the community through excellent care and support services and community outreach programmes.

OBJECTIVE 1: To offer a personalised preparation towards leading a fulfilling adult life through our school and college provision and education outreach

Why is this important to us?

Learning is the key that will enable young people with visual impairment and complex needs to live the most independent and fulfilled life as possible as an adult.

Learning at WESC Foundation covers every aspect of life – how to communicate, how to move around, how to make choices, how to make friends and socialise, how to advocate for oneself, how to manage day to day living, as well as learning about the world, developing skills in Maths, English and ICT and finding out what you love to do and want to be.

What are we going to do…

  1. Improve education in school and college and ensure our provision is consistently rated by Ofsted as Good or above.
  2. Ensure our residential school and college provision is consistently rated by Ofsted as Good or above.
  3. Increase the number of students in the school and college and create a new offer for more able students with a visual impairment.
  4. Improve specialist VI and technology support to students in the school and college.
  5. Increase parent engagement and communication.
  6. Develop our current educational outreach programme into a visual impairment education advisory service, and offer it in more locations.
  7. Expand the opportunities for our students to develop work skills through a wider range of work placements and an increase in supported internships.

Our goals by the end of this plan…

  • At least 75 students are in our school and college each year.
  • Education is rated by Ofsted as at least Good in all three provisions.
  • 150 + young people are getting support through education outreach each year.
  • A total of at least 20 students have completed supported internships.

OBJECTIVE 2: To support young people and adults to live a fulfilling life by providing a range of adult care and support services in the community

Why is this important to us?

Most young people with VI and complex needs face challenges that mean they will need ongoing support to live an independent and fulfilled life after education.  Our adult services create a specialist stepping stone or long-term home in the local community, with all our knowledge built in.

Our development of adult services recognises that young people come to WESC Foundation from around the UK and many want to become citizens of Exeter, because they have learnt to get around, have made friends and have secured work or volunteering opportunities.

What are we going to do…

  1. Improve our adult services so that they are consistently rated by the CQC as Good or above.
  2. Expand our residential/nursing care provision for young adults on site and/or in the community.
  3. Remodel and expand our supported living service.
  4. Expand our adult day support both on site and in satellite locations.
  5. Expand our community support programme in the areas of access technology, Braille support, mobility support, advice to other organisations, and social and enrichment activities for young adults with visual impairment and complex needs.

Our goals by the end of this plan…

  • St David’s House is rated Outstanding by CQC
  • We have expanded residential care by at least 5 places
  • The supported living service is at full capacity with plans to expand
  • Adult day services have expanded to support at least 25 people per day on or off site
  • We are delivering community support to at least 30 people a year
  • We are delivering an adult work skills programme that supports at least 10 people each year

OBJECTIVE 3: To share our knowledge and resources with our local community, professionals and the sector so more people benefit from our work and expertise

Why is this important to us?

WESC Foundation has developed a unique knowledge of visual impairment and complex needs. We have emerging data that shows that the application of this knowledge into our learning methods and environments is improving the functional vision of our young people.

Our specialist centre in Exeter can only support a limited number of people. However, we can have a much bigger impact on many more young people’s lives if we share what we know with other organisations and professionals through partnerships, consultancy, training and research.

What are we going to do…

  1. Be a leader in the visual impairment and complex needs field (and in the SEND sector) in the South West and beyond.
  2. Create new partnerships with other providers to support the improvement of services for young people with visual impairment and complex needs in the South West.
  3. Develop a range of paid-for or free-to-beneficiary support services and consultancy opportunities that help parents and young people, and widen understanding of the needs of our young people in the community.
  4. Develop a visual impairment and complex needs training offer for professionals.
  5. Create a knowledge bank based on current research and best practice in visual impairment and cortical visual impairment. We will add to the knowledge bank through involvement in relevant research.

Our goals by the end of this plan…

  • Our staff will be in least 3 leadership/influencer roles at a regional or national level.
  • We have delivered a total of at least 30 specialist assessments that support and inform families over the plan period.
  • We have delivered a total of at least 6 paid-for consultancy roles that widen awareness and understanding of the needs of our beneficiary groups
  • We have delivered training to a total of at least 100 external professionals.
  • We have been involved in a total of at least 5 relevant research projects.

OBJECTIVE 4: To modernise and create improved spaces on our campus which promote independence and enhance learning and living at WESC Foundation

Why is this important to us?

Our 14-acre campus in Exeter offers a VI friendly environment with green open spaces and fantastic facilities like our therapy centre and our swimming pool. However, the needs of our young people have become more complex and our buildings are getting old. Accommodation is not sufficiently homely or modern. Our education space is split across campus and no longer meets the needs of our more complex students.

We lack the right space for accessible sport, creative arts and music, all of which are really important to the well-being and enjoyment of our young people.

What are we going to do…

  1. Complete the design and build of a new education centre for students with VI and complex needs.
  2. Improve our classroom spaces in Pynes and St David’s and make better use of the Hub.
  3. Refurbish, modernise and adapt all our on-site accommodation to widen the choice for young people, and make living at WESC Foundation a better experience.
  4. Increase residential capacity in St David’s and the student accommodation through the redevelopment of unused space and the installation of lifts.
  5. Develop improved sports and performances spaces on the campus and co-produce a new social space with the young people.

Our goals by the end of this plan…

  • We have a new state of the art education centre linked to the Hub and Pynes Building with total capacity for 80 students.
  • Every bedroom, residential bathroom, toilet, shared lounge and kitchen have been modernised and refurbished.
  • We have expanded our wheelchair-accessible accommodation in St David’s and the student residential accommodation.
  • We have a new sports hall and have refurbished the main hall to create a new performance space.
  • We have co-produced a multi-purpose social space with the young people.

OBJECTIVE 5: To be a well led, effective, safe and sustainable organisation and a great employer

Why is this important to us?

WESC Foundation is all about people and our 270 staff and volunteers are the most important assets we have. What they do impacts hugely on the welfare and progress of our young people. To succeed, we need to value and develop our staff and ensure they perform at the highest level.

Our ambitious plans require funds so raising money and managing it well is critical, as the government does not finance capital expenditure in the non-maintained sector. We need to show commissioners, funders and supporters that we use our resources wisely and manage our organisation with integrity and a focus on making a positive and lasting difference to the lives of our young people.

What are we going to do…

  1. Help and protect children, young people and adults across our provision through effective safeguarding.
  2. Manage funds and resources effectively to create greater financial resilience.
  3. Be more visible to wider audiences.
  4. Improve training, development and performance management at all levels of the organisation.
  5. Recruit and retain staff in all our services and reduce the level of vacancies.
  6. Invest in the development of all staff with management responsibility.
  7. Develop effective measurement tools to demonstrate quality, outcomes for young people, impact of the organisation and compliance.
  8. Ensure increased effectiveness of governance by the Board of Trustees.

Our goals by the end of this plan…

  • We have outstanding safeguarding practice in all provisions.
  • We have a three-year rolling financial plan and meet our reserves policy.
  • We only use agency staff to cover 10% of our care staffing needs.
  • We have at least 10 Trustees with increased expertise in education and care.
  • We have a system of performance measurement that demonstrates the impact we have made to the lives of young people.
  • We have at least 500 active supporters engaged with the organisation.

Our financial strategy

What are the key issues?


  • There is increased pressure on local authority commissioners to reduce fees and restrict spending due to overall financial restrictions on SEN budgets.
  • We require extensive capital to achieve much-needed campus development ambitions.
  • We have a narrow range of income sources and depend largely on fee income which can be unpredictable.
  • Student numbers have dropped year on year.


  • We have to meet increasing fixed costs that are externally dictated (such as fuel, teacher’s pensions, minimum wage) with little ability to increase prices.
  • We have to use agency staff to cover vacancies at a considerable premium.
  • We have to budget for some major infrastructure improvements (including IT, safeguarding and refurbishment).

For 2019-2024 we will focus on the following financial strategies to meet the challenges above

Effective financial management and budgeting

  • A three-year rolling financial plan.
  • Devolved budget management.
  • Control of agency and staff costs.
  • Clear understanding of unit costs and margins.

Increased fundraising capacity and activity

  • Expanded supporter base to gain more regular giving.
  • Capital campaign to fund build of major projects.
  • Development of major donor programme.

Creative commissioning and best value offers

  • Cost transparency.
  • Demonstrable value for money.
  • Purchasing incentives to local authorities for longer/bulk contracts.
  • Simpler payment pathways.

Sweating our assets to increase earned income

  • Improved profitability of shops and social enterprises.
  • Increased revenue via WESC Enterprises.
  • Increased income from selling our expertise.

Our marketing and communications strategy

For 2019-2024 we will:

Help external audiences connect with our ‘cause’ by:

  • updating our name and brand to make it clear who we are and what we do
  • campaigning to highlight the problems that face young people with visual impairment and complex needs (as well as what we do to address them)
  • using real world examples that create compelling reasons to support our work
  • helping current and potential supporters and donors make a difference to the lives of our young people through their involvement in our charity

Use digital marketing as a key tool to engage with current and new audiences by:

  • driving traffic to a newly-commissioned website that focuses on evidencing our services, opportunities to support us and recruiting staff and volunteers
  • using the intranet as a self-serve knowledge base and the heart of our engagement with staff
  • increasing our digital reach on social media and through email marketing
  • using video as a tool for sharing our specialist knowledge, engaging with supporters and recruiting staff/volunteers

Build our tribe of supporters and advocates by:

  • exploring new ways to reach, acquire and engage with potential supporters from the general public
  • using charity shops and social enterprise projects as community beacons
  • recruiting new volunteers to support our work and spread the word about what we do
  • making better use of our WESC Foundation Ambassadors, and all PR and networking opportunities that can raise our profile in the city
  • improving our use of CRM software to manage our contacts

Make more people who could use our services aware of the WESC Foundation offer by:

  • sharing and showcasing our specialist VI knowledge and excellent facilities to highlight why we do what we do
  • demonstrating the high quality and value for money of our provision through engaging printed materials, digital content and open days
  • attending exhibitions, networking and transition events around the UK
  • seeking closer ties with regional VI charities, parent/carer networks and potential feeder institutions

Delivering on our objectives – a timeline


Ofsted ratings improved

Safeguarding improved

New pricing structure in place


Rated as good in all three education provisions

St David’s House rated as outstanding by CQC

3 leadership/influencer roles within the sector

Lift installed in accommodation

3-year financial plan created

Leadership and development opportunities for every manager

Restructured and developed fundraising capacity


Education outreach/advisory service extended

Remodelled supported living service is at full capacity

Family group is operational

All residential accommodation refurbished

All toilets and bathrooms refurbished

Effective tools in place to measure impact and performance


Students’ VI and technology support has been improved

New offer for more able students in place

Community support programme for adults established

New education centre built


At least 75 students in school and college

5 supported internships each year

New Residential Care Home opened

Adult work skills programme delivered

30 specialist assessments delivered

External training delivered to 100 professionals

Involved in 5 relevant research projects

New sports hall is built

New performance space created

500 active supporters