The Grandin Building meets the needs of children who required the most support. Children who attend school here are often said to have severe autism, Kanner’s Type autism or even classic autism. The most common characteristic of these children is that their language has been late in its development or hasn’t developed at all. They often need high levels of support with communication, either through an augment communication program like MAKATON or through a visual system like PECS. The children will also receive support from our Speech and Language therapists.
The students at Grandin require a very structured day with visual prompts and routines. Most of the educational activities are delivered on the pre-national curriculum levels or P-levels. A lot of work is done in collaboration with our speech and language therapists to improve behaviour and reduce anxiety through respective and expressive language support and further support in developing other communication strategies. The SLT will also support opportunities for spontaneous communication ether verbally or through an augmented communication scheme.
We also work to reduce frustration and inappropriate behaviours by carefully looking at the students surroundings and managing the amount of stimulation that in ambient in the environment. It is very important that even the smallest obstacle to learning is assessed and is managed so that no obstacles in the environment prevents learning and growth.
The children who attend school at our Grandin building have difficulties with looking after themselves and are very vulnerable. Staff are mindful of the difficulties these student have with social situations and work with in our therapeutic framework to help manage these needs. There is a lot of work done to improve the quality of life of the child so that when they leave our school they have the skills they need to move into a supported living environment and can keep themselves as safe as possible.
The children who attend this provision are those children who have moderate difficulties with social communication, social imagination, and have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. These students are said to have high functioning autism. Their communication tends to be more typical and develops to the point of speech acquisition. Receptive and expressive language is still delayed and requires support from our speech and language therapists. These children are typically under the age of 12, and are assessed to be National Curriculum levels 1-3. Children who attend this provision sometimes attain academically at a rate comparable to their non-disabled peers. Time is often spent acquiring strategies that will reduce the anxiety of social situations and replace inappropriate behaviours with appropriate one. This kind of work is done with the various therapist to improve social skills and reduce their vulnerability in social situations.
Students at Hulvers still need the structure and visual prompts that are good practice in an ASD provision. We also allow the interests of the child to drive the education program. We are currently working with children from Hulvesr to improve our horticulture programme at the school. Children at Hulvers are encouraged to work on improving their behaviour through improving their ability to communicate their needs. It is our expectation that student develop and use communication strategies to have their needs met instead of inappropriate behaviours. Our therapist work with the student to develop strategies along these lines such as red cards, stop lights, or other visual based strategies to empower the students to trade inappropriate forms of communication for a more appropriate type. Scripted strategies, social stories and role plays are sometimes used to help the students develop skills to reduce the levels of anxiety that social situations may impose on the students.
Oak Tree Centre
The Oak Tree Centre is set in the grounds of Acorn Park School and provides education for youngsters who have autism and who are of average or above average ability.
The Oak Tree Centre provides an enjoyable educational experience for pupils who have the capacity to achieve well, but who need the support of an autistic friendly learning environment where their individual needs can be met. Pupils in the Oak Tree Centre thrive in small classes which are led by members of an experienced and talented teaching team, all of whom are skilled in working with children who have autism.
The children who attend Oak Tree are the children who continue to need support, though their communication skills are more typical. They still have difficulties with social communication and imagination. Many of the students who attend school in this provision have a diagnosis of Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism. Many of these students are on track with their academic achievement and can with support achieve at a level comparable to their non-disabled peers. Typical National Curriculum levels range from 3-5, with some students successfully taking GCSEs. Students that are post 16 can attend college with support. Some post 16 students continue to work towards GCSEs.
Many of these students though remain vulnerable to social situations and find appropriate friendships difficult. Students at Oak Tree will use the same types of strategies and practices used in Hulvers only they are adapted to the age and ability of the student. Students continue to need support with their receptive and expressive language and managing their anxiety. Students continue to have access to the MDT and where a needs exist students can be referred to CBT therapy.
Pupils in the Oak Tree Centre follow the National Curriculum. In addition there is a strong focus on the acquisition and development of life skills and social skills. Our therapists support pupils in the acquisition of social interaction skills.
KS4 pupils work towards achieving GCSEs where possible. To ensure that pupils receive a breadth of experience within this small setting, tutors join the core teaching staff for the specific teaching of GCSE courses to Y10 and Y11 pupils. Because of this flexible approach we are able to meet the individual needs of all students in terms of supporting them to achieve the qualifications they choose.
During the period 2012/2014 The Oak Tree Centre is working with the main school towards achieving the Artsmark and Green ECO Flag. In addition there will be opportunity for individual pupils to enrol of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
The School Day
The school day starts at 09:00 and finishes at 15:30. Lessons are between 30 and 45 minutes long and are interspersed with short concentration boosting breaks. The Oak Tree Centre has two large classrooms, each of which has its own adjoining relaxation room. In addition, pupils have access to a purpose built ICT room, an art room and a fully functional kitchen. There are up to six pupils in each class.