Welcome to Acorn Park School
Acorn Park is an independent, specialist day and residential school that caters for children and young people aged 6 – 19 years who have communication and learning challenges associated with Autism. We are a fully integrated community made up of a range of professionals from different backgrounds employed to meet the diverse needs of the young people and families that we support.
We have a deservedly good reputation with parents and placing authorities for meeting the needs of children and young people across the Autism Spectrum including those whose behaviour can be challenging.
Our methodology is underpinned by an understanding that children on the Autism Spectrum are more likely to have happy and fulfilling lives and if we support the development of their autonomy and wellbeing by giving them effective ways to communicate and building their capacity to cope with the demands and challenges of their lives.
The Thrive programme has truly been embedded into the school community and the language and ethos of Thrive has given the school its own unique and ‘thriving’ identity
Acorn Park School’s Thrive team consists of one Thrive lead, three fully licensed practitioners and four practitioners.
Thrive practitioners complete sessions with students who require time out of their classroom to share a special time and to build positive relationships with others. The sessions allow for the necessary play and arts based activities to be conducted away from the main, predominantly cognitive based learning that is the focus of the main classrooms. The sessions allow for an additional resource for students who are struggling to access their main classroom. The lower school has a bespoke Thrive based curriculum, this has enabled the students to have access to Thrive based strategies throughout their school week.
We recognise that for some children to achieve their potential, parents and professionals have to spend a little more time and energy putting together a support package that is going to be meaningful and effective. For children and young people whose needs are more complex we have created bespoke provisions which aim to build a personal curriculums to develop a child’s communication, emotional regulation, independent living skills and access to the community.
The school offers day placements and 38 week or 52 week residential placements.
We recognise that effective learning takes place where there are strong relationships between adults and children and between each child and their peers.
How do we do this…
- Create enabling environments that promote the well being of each individual in a safe and secure setting in which they can live, work and develop their potential
- Unlock the potential of the young people who live and learn at Acorn Park so they are able to live fulfilling and productive lives
- Develop in each young person a greater understanding and awareness of themselves, their community and the world in which they live
- Build on the strengths and celebrate the achievements of all our young people
- Teach all students new personal, social and practical skills that will help them in later life including providing opportunities for work experience and involvement in accredited learning where possible
- Develop communication skills and use language (whenever possible) with confidence to communicate effectively, using Information and Communications Technology and preferred modes of communication
- Develop the appropriate skills to participate in a suitably differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum including the National Curriculum
- Develop self-confidence and capacity for emotional regulation, communicative competence, independence, pride in self and in their school, and an interest in their activities
- Establish an effective and mutually supportive working partnership between home and school
- Establish Acorn Park School as an exceptional provision in the education and care of young people on the Autism Spectrum
We are a fully integrated community of professionals who use evidence based practices to increase quality of life for children on the Autism Spectrum and their families. Acorn Park are building their community around 3 core beliefs:
- The Team Around The Child: We believe that a child’s needs are best met when a multi disciplinary team joins works closely together. We want to enable children and their families to achieve their own ambitions whilst overcoming the challenges that are impacting most upon their lives.
- Supporting children to be active participants in their lives: We enable children to become more involved in their lives by teaching skills which enable them to initiate communication and to regulate their attention, arousal and emotion levels. This might be in their classroom, in their home or in their communities – we support children wherever their needs are the greatest.
- A social model of disability: We are joining a growing number of professionals who believe that Autism should not be viewed as “impairment” or a “deficit” but as evidence of neuro-diversity within our society. This means that we believe that learning is a genuine partnership between children and adults so, when we set children goals, we also set the adults who will be supporting them goals too!
Our approach is built to achieve the priorities outlined by the National Research Council (2001). Namely:
- Social communication and socio-emotional development are of highest priority
- Underlying principles and values based on theories of children’s learning and language development
- Children’s Goals are developmentally appropriate and based on functional needs recognising individual differences
- All aspects of child’s development seen as interrelated and interdependent on interactions with others
- Progress is measured by success in daily routines and experiences
- Parents considered as experts and partners
Our Specialist Environment
We have a range of facilities at Acorn Park which support the way that children learn, socialise and play together. These include a range of outdoor recreational areas with climbing frames and gym equipment, grassy areas for outdoor play and our extensive grounds give our pupils opportunities for bike riding and go-carting. For many children, these open spaces allow them to develop a sense of freedom within a safe and supervised environment.
One of our pupils’ favourite areas when it is cold and wet outside is our indoor heated play barn which can be used all year round for games, sports and trampolining. Pupils are particularly fond of the enclosed large soft play area with its interactive sound and music equipment and a large ball pond.
We also have a number of specialist resources to meet the needs of children at Acorn Park School. We are equipped with 2 sensory rooms in the children’s home and a sensory integration room in the school which is used by our Occupational Therapist.
Acorn Park Community has continued to grow, with the addition of the Care Farm with a variety of animals! Our dedicated ‘outdoor specialist teacher’ provides children with opportunities to learn skills associated with caring for animals and learning from the natural environment.
We know how important the environment can be to support learning, socialising and recreation so we try to ask children and parents on a regular basis how they want to see their school and homes develop.