Referrals & Admissions

Right Place, First time…

We have a dedicated Admissions Officer who supports parents, local authorities and other commissioners with Referrals & Admissions and puts together the most appropriate assessment and transition package to meet each child’s needs. They will be available at each step of the way to ensure that every child’s placement at Acorn Park has the best possible start!

If you have any questions about your child and whether or not Acorn Park would be a suitable school to meet their needs then please contact us on: 01953 888 656.

Who do we work with?

We work with children who come from across the UK and occasionally, from overseas. They may have come from another specialist residential school, a provision local to their home or from their home itself. Our children usually have an ECHP and a diagnosis of Autism/ Asperger’s Syndrome.

In addition, they also might also present with:

  • A need for a bespoke, or individualised curriculum
  • Moderate to severe learning difficulties
  • Challenges with emotional regulation which may lead to problematic or challenging behaviours
  • Challenges in developing effective communication skills
  • Difficulties with social interaction and building relationships
  • Little or no awareness of danger and keeping safe
  • A requirement for 1:1 support throughout waking hours.
  • Other needs which need to be supported through a multidisciplinary approach


Referrals to Acorn Park School are usually made through the Special Educational Needs department of each young person’s Local Authority, Social Services or Children’s Services Department. Where the young person’s parents or carers express a choice for Acorn Park School, and where their local authority agrees that our school can meet that young person’s needs, then the authority will contact the Principal of Acorn Park School. Sometimes initial requests for referrals come directly from parents, and in these cases we will support parents in making contact with the appropriate placing authority.


Where the school considers it may be able to meet the needs of the young person, they will arrange a series of assessment visits to gather information from a range of people who work with children in their current home, school and respite settings. Generally senior members of staff from the school, home and the therapeutic team undertake the assessment. If it is appropriate, the child will be invited in for an assessment visit, which may be a short visit or in the case of a residential referral may include an overnight stay. Following the assessment process, if the assessment team feels that Acorn Park School can meet the child’s needs, a place will be offered to the Local Authority.


Children can join Acorn Park School at any time throughout the school year. Sometimes the process needs to be completed quite quickly, but we always plan and prepare fully for any new student joining us to reduce the stress on the young person. We will work through a planned transition that is appropriate to the circumstances surrounding each child and their family.

Joining our community: Transitions

Once an offer of a place has been accepted, the school will work with parents and the Local Authority to draw up a transition plan. Teams will often visit families and children in their current schools and / or homes to learn which strategies are going to best support children make this big change in their lives. As much as possible, children will be supported to talk about how they would like their bedrooms and classrooms set up so teams can prepare these in advance.

During the transition period and the first six weeks of the placement, the young person will be supported by additional staff to allow a thorough baseline assessment to be completed. We recognise how challenging this period of transition can be for the family and we keep in particularly close contact with families at this time.

Your child's first 100 days at Acorn Park School

During your child’s first 100 days we help them to settle into their new school and/or home whilst building a picture of your child’s strengths, interests, ambitions and challenges. These include:

During your child’s first 100 days we help them to settle into their new school and/or home whilst building a picture of your child’s strengths, interests, ambitions and challenges. these include:

  • Where their communication and learning challenges are having the biggest impact on their lives
  • Emotional and environmental triggers and behaviours
  • Level of flexibility or rigidity and adaptability
  • A profile of a child’s social communication skills and their capacity for emotional regulation
  • An understanding of a child’s sensory sensitivities
  • Strengths and challenges in daily living skills
  • National Curriculum levels
  • Levels of fine and gross motor skills


Each new student has created for them a communication, learning and lifestyle plan based on the information we have at this point which is then monitored, reviewed and modified as necessary.