Our main teaching method has been developed from the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) including Verbal Behaviour (VB).
We believe that this is the best approach to learning for autistic children.
Teaching staff are trained in:
- PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
- Signalong and other augmentative communication strategies
- ‘Team Teach’ positive handling strategies
Regular training by our Occupational and Speech and Language Therapists enables tutors to incorporate techniques such as sensory integration, visual strategies and promotion of social communication into all aspects of teaching.
Our pupil population ranges from Reception to Key Stage 4, but none are able to access the National Curriculum at an age-appropriate level. The majority function at P Levels (attainment below Level 1 of the National Curriculum) in most areas. We have therefore designed a curriculum that meets the needs and abilities of all of our pupils, and can be tailored to suit individual strengths and weaknesses. The skills we teach are relevant, accessible, functional and motivating.
Our curriculum accommodates the learning styles and communication systems of all pupils, and we use visual aids, sign language and reinforcement (reward) systems in different situations to enhance its delivery.
Our highly specialised curriculum draws on:
- The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, (including literacy and numeracy aspects) and some areas of the Foundation subjects of the National Curriculum (NC)
- The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) and;
- The Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Programme (VB MAPP)
The Secondary curriculum is designed to promote learning in functional and ‘real life’ settings and targets independence to prepare pupils for adulthood. This curriculum is further enhanced by:
- The Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN)
- New Horizons, Personal Progress and Transition Challenge programmes and;
- The English Speaking Board Curriculum
We mainly use topics to deliver the curriculum providing relevant learning experiences that are accessible and functional and help promote personal development.
Most pupils are taught through a combination of 1:1 teaching and small group teaching (with 1:1 support). Morning group sessions cover literacy and numeracy for both Primary and Secondary levels. Afternoon sessions in Primary focus on a foundation subject and in Secondary on developing life skills.
There is particular emphasis on the development of speech, language and communication skills, self-care and social skills throughout the school day.
Individual Educational Plans
Each pupil has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the 1:1 teaching works towards specifically chosen IEP targets in the following areas:
- Speech, language and communication skills
- Social skills
- Daily living/self care skills
- Motor skills/Health and Fitness
- Play and hobbies/leisure skills
- Listening and attention skills
- Independence skills
- Group Work
Group work is based on a rotating curriculum and follows topics on a half-termly basis, with NC subjects/life skills taught at differentiating levels. Lessons are structured to suit the varying abilities of the pupils.
Visits into the community
Where possible and appropriate we make good use of our local community to support the curriculum making learning more ‘real’, and providing opportunities for pupils to generalise their skills. Visits include: the hairdressers, shopping, bowling and visits to cafes and the local fire station.
Our Secondary pupils work towards their ‘community participation’ targets during weekly outings. These visits are possible as a result of the links we have developed with the local community and we make regular use of a local educational/outdoor activity centre and have even formed our own Scout group.
In addition, we are working on building links with local businesses to create opportunities for vocational experience for our older pupils. For example, we help with housekeeping duties at a nearby hotel.
We continually assess our pupils, using different, yet complimentary systems. These underpin our target setting and 1:1 work. Data relating to how pupils respond to 1:1 and group tasks is collected on a daily basis.
Progress is assessed against key developmental targets on the IEPs and measured against attainment on entry to the school, and within the P Levels, ABLLS, the VB MAPP (Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Programme) and ASDAN levels of attainment at Secondary level.
We recently devised and developed a system for graphically representing progress within the P Levels for key areas of development, such as speech, language and communication skills.