Some quotes from Autism Accreditation and Ofsted

Autism Accreditation 2014

Behaviour Support – Policy and Practice

Good behaviour management across the school results in pupils feeling safe and happy. This results in better engagement and learning in lessons. Staff feel well supported which reduces stress, sickness and staff turnover.

The review team wholeheartedly agree that behaviour support is an area of strength for the school. Across all observations, both within lessons and around the school premises, pupils were noted to be happy, engaged and well understood. There was a sense of calm and security for all, even when staff were dealing with some challenging situations. The review team would like to explicitly comment on their observations of how all members of staff demonstrate exceptional levels of respect towards students. We saw and experienced happy children who were engaged in their learning and who were rewarded with regular praise and unconditional respect as individuals.

Consistent Understanding of Autism

It was clear to the review team that Spa places an important emphasis on staff training and the consistent understanding of the needs of pupils with autism. All staff appeared to understand the needs of the pupils very well and excellent practice with regards to communication methods, behaviour management, sensory approaches and the use of structure and routines were observed across every lesson. The review team feel that this is embedded across the whole school and is an additional strength which enables Spa to effectively support and make positive progress with some challenging and complex young people.

Continuity and Consistency

Spa has familiar and embedded routines within the school day which ensure a consistent and predictable day for students. Familiar routines support transition across the school day, such as the routine of entering into school, registration, lunch clubs, a dedicated reading lesson and the end of day review. This well embedded structure and familiarity ensures that students feel safe and are able to experience consistency throughout their school week, and indeed their whole school journey from key stage 3 through to key stage 5. The review team were pleased to see that this explicitly informs part of the induction process for new staff, ensuring that it continues to remain an important focus.

Sensory Issues

The review team noted that sensory awareness and the use of sensory strategies is firmly embedded in the practice at Spa. Pen portraits identify sensory preferences and individualised sensory strategies to support behaviour management were noted in behaviour management plans. These were seen to be implemented consistently across all classrooms and activities. Sensory approaches and resources were being used consistently to effectively calm students and re-engage them, in addition to providing individualised support to students to promote the management of their own sensory needs and preferences.

Care Practice – Leisure

The review team feel that the provision of morning, break time, lunch and after school clubs is a particular strength. The range of opportunities offered to students ensured that they were encouraged to make daily choices, and were able to access an activity to meet their specific needs and preferences, depending on whether calming, stimulating or sensory activities were desired. We felt that there was excellent provision to ensure that the whole school day was structured with meaningful and enriching opportunities for all students. The review team especially note the provision of trampolining sessions across the day and special interest groups organised for students on a Friday afternoon as being worthy of specific praise.

Teaching and Learning  – Curriculum

The review team has noted many strengths in relation to the key stage 5 curriculum provision, including a more vocational curriculum which provides relevant, imaginative and appropriate accredited courses, the provision of work experience at the on-site café, independent living skills in the flat, the development of links with the community to support transition, and increased enrichment opportunities for all students.  We believe this to be an area within which the school is making excellent progress and achieving positive outcomes for its key stage 5 students. We anticipate this will continue to flourish over time.

Ofsted Dec 2012

  • In relation to their starting points, students make good and sometimes exceptional progress, particularly in their communication skills and personal development. 
  • All staff know the students well and teaching is good overall. Teaching has improved because of good quality staff training. 
  • The family liaison officer is effective in helping students and their parents to make the best of the support that is available to them. 
  • Student’ behaviour is outstanding. Students feel exceptionally safe in school because of the highly supportive relationships they enjoy with staff. 
  • The post-16 provision is good. Each student has a course of study designed just for them. They have good opportunities to learn employment skills in the school cafe. All successfully gain qualifications. 
  • The headteacher and his deputy, with good support from the governing body, provide effective leadership, including regular reviews of staff performance. \the areas identified for improvement at the previous inspection have been dealt with effectively. 

Autism Accreditation 2011

  • There is a very clear process for the monitoring of behaviour and the implementation of strategies to address challenging behaviour within Spa School.
  • It was clear throughout the duration of the review visit that staff modified their speech using clear, simple language and the number of instructions given was directed by the ability of the individual student. For those students with no, or limited, verbal communication skills, visual input was provided by the key fob cards, signing gesture and other visual support methodologies.
  • All students are encouraged to develop independence skills and this was seen to be embedded practice throughout the school and in all areas of the curriculum. For example, students routinely locate their own equipment, file their own work and make informed choices and decisions for their leisure time, meals and lunchtime clubs. It is clear that many of these achievements are made possible by the skill and careful planning of the staff.
  • Planning for differentiation was consistent throughout in relation to the task set, the help given and the outcomes achieved. In addition, in the best examples, extension tasks were set to ensure that students were not disengaged.
  • There were no instances during the review visit where students were seen to have to wait too long to be engaged or where their differing needs meant that some in the class were not making appropriate progress. In fact, all observations demonstrated that pupil engagement and progress was good.
  • Within all classrooms cupboards, drawers and resources have been labelled with appropriate photographs, pictures, symbols and words encouraging a high degree of student independence. Very good examples were seen of students finding resources necessary for the completion of a task or tidying away at the end of a session.
  • Staff within school are aware of how the environment might impact upon students with autism.
  • During playtimes and lunchtime clubs, the review team observed the staff on duty creating opportunities for the development of interactive social skills through encouraging the students to play games together
  • Spa School is proactive in encouraging members of the community to be aware of the work of the school and the needs of the students. Goods relationships have been developed within the local community resulting in a wide number of curricula activities taking place in a variety of local community settings.
  • In all observed lessons, the lesson plans made provision for different learning styles, interests and motivators, and provided extension tasks etc.
  • The review team observed that the work set for the students was sufficient to be challenging but, at the same time, it was possible for them to complete it in the time allowed. The amount of help given was kept to a minimum and depended on the ability of the students. It varied from simple verbal instructions, instructions using signing, instructions using symbols to ‘modelling’ and hand over hand guidance.
  • Immediately apparent when entering school classrooms and/or when discussing the provision with any member of the school staff is an awareness of the importance of clear structure, good organisation and positive proactive approaches that can be used to the benefit of students.
  • Lessons follow a consistent and predictable structure which shows an understanding of how students with ASD benefit from routine. Within this consistent framework there was evidence that teachers modified content to take into account the age and cognitive functioning of their class and the individuals within it.
  • Students work and achievements are celebrated in display work, often using photographs of students showing them carrying out activities. This helped to enhance the school environment and provided opportunities for incidental learning and reflection on previous events.

Ofsted July 2010

  • All students make good progress in their learning and personal development because teaching and the curriculum are good and care is outstanding
  • The school is a calm, supportive environment
  • The majority of parents and carers are appreciative of all that the school offers and speak highly of how much their children have developed since being here
  • Staff share a clear vision and are highly ambitious about their work with all the students
  • Given the recent significant changes to the school, the subsequent improvements seen in the quality of teaching are outstanding
  • The focus on learning and progress is strong and almost all activities are relevant, suitable and well prepared.
  • Support and well-being of all students are very high priorities throughout the school
  • Given their special educational needs and/or disabilities the majority of students behave particularly well
  • Those who find this more difficult are supported extremely well
  • Students make outstanding progress in their behaviour and outcomes for this are good
  • Students’ comments, mannerisms and facial expressions indicate that they feel extremely safe
  • The Sixth Form is increasingly well adapted to meet the students’ diverse needs. The curriculum is being developed appropriately to include a greater range of accreditations and increase links with local colleges and work experience opportunities.
  • Given the significant improvements in the quality of teaching, highly effective monitoring and evaluation and the enthusiasm and motivation of staff, the capacity to sustain further improvement is excellent

Autism Accreditation 2009

  • Continuity and consistency is a strength of the school and there is a robust infrastructure to support effective communication throughout the school.
  • The school focuses on the individual and is person centred. In depth analysis facilitates this. The staff are highly knowledgeable of the individuals in their care and there are very skilled teaching assistants.
  • The team noted the very positive and enthusiastic ethos at the school and the mutual respect and positive relationships between staff and pupils.

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