Vision for the School
The school will develop to become a centre of excellence, serving autistic pupils with learning needs, not only in our school but the wider community. Our mission is to provide an inclusive, holistic provision that will enable all members of the school community to attain their full potential in an encouraging and supporting environment which is happy, safe and secure, caring and positive with every pupil central to our ethos. It aligns with the mission of Victoria Academies Trust ‘to make our people the best they can be’.
The Specific Aims of the School
To provide a warm and safe environment in which everyone is valued and enabled to develop as happy and confident individuals who appreciate their own worth
To develop skills, qualities, knowledge and understanding for life
To ensure the pupils have a voice in all aspects of school life
To prepare our pupils for adulthood – becoming caring, confident and responsible, independent citizens in the community and gain meaningful employment
To enable individuals to become informed, responsible and caring through use of appropriate learning and teaching styles and practice
To offer at an appropriate level a stimulating, challenging and enriching curriculum in a variety of environments during school and beyond which enables the achievement of full potential
To create a broad and balanced curriculum offer based on individual needs and personalisation
To promote a climate of high expectation in which the achievements and successes of all are celebrated
To create an environment in which individuals are empowered to accept responsibility for their own development
To encourage mutual respect and understanding of others so that our pupils become caring and responsible individuals both within school and the wider community
To have an inclusive and consultative style of leadership and management that respects and takes account of the views of all
To continually evaluate current working practices to ensure work/life balance, staff well-being and good continuing professional development
To encourage individuals to participate in the growth and development of the school environment
Our curriculum will not only focus on academic outcomes but also on developing the range of differences associated with autism and enhancing skills in the key areas of independence and special interests to enable our young people to prepare for adulthood from early years onwards.
Our curriculum will be personalised and multisensory. There will be the need for continued opportunities for over learning, application and generalisation, supported by staff with the skills and expertise to assess the correct level of support required, whether that be physical prompts, verbal prompt, gestural prompt, Alternative, Augmentative Communication (AAC) or independent working.
Through thorough assessment, monitoring and tracking we will ensure every child has their individual needs met and fulfil their potential.
Our curriculum will be developmental, personalised and provide progression pathways from individual starting points. Pupils may begin their learning within pre-subject specific areas, focusing on engagement, interaction and communication and sensory experiences. They will then progress to subject specific learning and national curriculum.
The curriculum will be based around four Core areas of:
This covers physical development, social development, subject specific learning or the five areas of engagement (pre-subject specific learning). The five areas of engagement are: realisation, anticipation, persistence, initiation and exploration.
This includes initiation, interaction, friendships, social and opportunities, alternative and augmentative methods of communication (AAC)
This includes celebrating diversity, physical and emotional health, identity, community belonging, pupil voice, special interests, and understanding of autism as appropriate .
This includes being part of the school and wider community, life skills, making choices, safety (personal, online, road and travel) and accessing services.
Underpinning the whole school environment and approach will be a ‘Total Communication Environment’ utilising signs, symbols and language individually tailored to need. Each child’s personalised communication method will be incorporated into every aspect of school life from lunch time, to lesson time, to independent travel and all staff will be trained to support these systems effectively.
The sensory environment is paramount and the school and teaching takes into account sensory profiles, ensuring low stimulus environments. A low arousal approach will mean pupils are able to access learning to their full potential and will promote wellbeing and reduce anxiety.
Teaching is structured at small group and individual levels with a high level of personalisation within classes. The curriculum will be delivered to ensure that children make the best possible progress.
Individual work stations, designated curriculum areas, class room zones and break out spaces will be utilised to both promote structure and routine and ensure clear expectations.
The curriculum is planned to ensure the pupils have a broad range of experiences throughout each key stage appropriate to their level of learning.
Sessions will be planned carefully to the individual learning pathways of the children. They will include whole class teaching and individual learning targets linked where appropriate to the learning challenge.
Transition between sessions will be carefully planned, where pupils are prepared for change and able to take part in activities to enable them to regulate and be ready for the next session.
We understand that the importance of routine, consistency and predictability for autistic children and so our approach will carefully consider these. Within everyday lesson and learning experiences, children will be supported to manage change and new experiences.
Outdoor and physical learning will be used to develop fine and gross motor skills, balance and co-ordination and core strength. Outdoor learning will also encompass other areas of the curriculum such as science, geography, sensory integration and linked to learning in English and Maths as appropriate. Wellbeing and regulation will also be supported through outdoor learning.
Learning Challenges will be designed so that pupils can undertake a community-based project and the knowledge pupils have learnt within subjects can be given real and purposeful application. Learning Challenges will be set each term. Families and communities will be involved in the process and outcome to make the learning more contextualised and transferrable to outside of school.
Support from children’s therapies (Speech and Language SALT, Occupational Therapy OT and Physiotherapy PT) will be an integral part of our curriculum. Class teams will have opportunity to receive support and training from out therapists as will our parents and carers. Therapy teams will be able to ensure classroom practice meets the specific needs of individuals on a day to day basis.
Progression for pupils children is not simply attainment of skills and therefore must be viewed as a broader picture. Some children make progress through the acquisition of attainment – vertical progression. However, for some children, progression can be viewed horizontally, whereby a skill needs to be generalised and reinforced through a repeated series of planned and varied contexts, thus broadening and widening the experiences presented to a child to embed their learning.
The pace of learning can be very varied from pupil to pupil and makes the individual and personalised journey of learning even more important.
Progression may be seen in the following ways and needs to be credited for each child:
- Vertical, linear progression
- Horizontal, lateral progression- including levels of engagement in their learning.
- Progress in a particular area
- Maintenance of skills
- Significant reduction of staff support
- Generalisation of skill
- Sustainability of a skill
- Reduction of regression
- Length of time to make progress
- Increased length of concentration and persistence in learning tasks.