GHA is a National Autistic Society ADVANCED School
Autism Accreditation Assessment
Gosberton House Academy
Stephanie de Vires
Status prior to assessment
SECTION 2: KEY FINDINGS
What the service does particularly well
What stood out as particular strengths:
A strong sense of community exists within the Academy. This is founded on a commitment to a ‘rights and responsibility’ culture related to the school’s work to achieve the UNICEF Rights Respecting Gold Award. Pupils are given the space to be themselves and are encouraged to celebrate their differences and personal achievements. At the same time, high expectations are set for them in terms of how they should interact with others with respect and good manners and how they should contribute to a calm, purposeful working environment.
Continuous Professional Development
The school invests heavily in CPD as reflected it having achieved the Continuous Professional Development Excellence Mark and Investors in People Platinum status. Parents and professionals comment highly favourably on staff knowledge and understanding of autism. The assessment team observed staff as highly skilled and consistent in their approaches. Staff feel valued, are encouraged to be reflective learners and are supported to develop their knowledge and understanding further. There is a robust collaborative culture within the school where staff feel they can obtain help form colleagues and are keen to share information and ideas.
Creative approach to learning
The school employs creative ways to make learning fun and engaging for the students and to invest them with a sense of pride and achievement. There is a willingness to take on new challenges and initiatives such as Scouting schools and Forest schools to ensure that the curriculum remains relevant, meaningful and challenging to the pupils.
Staff allow pupils time and space to solve problems for themselves, making effective use of verbal and visual prompts to encourage independence and self-reliance. Thinking skills are explicitly taught and pupils are regularly praised for self-reliance and resilience.
Sharing of expertise
The school is strongly committed to sharing and promoting the good practice established at GHA across the county. Indeed, the school clearly sees itself as having a mission to try and make the world outside the school gate a better place for autistic people. This includes the fundamental role the school has played in setting up AIMS, the Outreach Service, AET training and Early Bird Training. The school has also contributed to furthering knowledge and understanding of autism through its involvement in a range of research projects.
Learning at Home
Parent feedback is excellent. An impressive initiative has been ‘Learning at Home’. This has empowered parents to appreciate their role as educators of their child and provided a means by which parents can celebrate and value their child as a learner.
What else the service does well:
Transitions are exceptionally well organised and skilfully choreographed to ensure each pupil knows what is expected of them and what is going to happen. This ensures that they remain calm, focussed and not stressed.
The décor of the school is maintained to a good standard. For example, walls are kept smooth and free from cracks or marks. Everywhere is kept neat and free of clutter. Displays are very attractive and effective use of photographs and pupil quotes are made to reinforce the school’s culture of celebration and pupil voice. Colour schemes are employed effectively to achieve a balance between ensuring environments are attractive and engaging whilst still low arousal. The school has been accredited for its gardens and use of outdoor spaces for learning.
Integration of Therapeutic interventions
Whilst the school recognise the value of therapeutic expertise, where necessary using its own funds to buy therapy time, staff at GHA take full responsibility for understanding. delivering and evaluating therapeutic interventions in the best interests of the pupils rather than been over-dependent on external specialist input.
Throughout the school there is recognition of the value of providing visual supports in a range of formats and contexts.
What the service could develop further
SECTION 3: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
SECTION 1: CONTENT
SECTION 4: PERSON CENTRED SUPPORT
Differences in Social Communication
“…the good practice strategies for communication will be audited by the Strategic Leadership Team. Staff are also encouraged to monitor their use of good practice through Team liaison meetings and discussion with the in-reach specialist teacher and the speech and language therapist. Specific training and support for staff on how to communicate with pupils with an AS is available through ongoing advice, in-service training and external accredited courses…”.
In conclusion, the support autistic pupils receive in communication and social interact is of a consistent high standard, is effective and well informed by an excellent understanding of individual strengths and challenges.
Self-reliance and problem solving
“Within our community, children’s rights are actively taught, practised, respected, protected and promoted. Children’s rights are promoted during all aspects of daily life”.
SECTION 5: CONSULTATION AND WORKING
With autistic people
With the families of autistic people
Parents are extremely happy with the level of support they receive from the Academy. Numerous responses from parents show that the school communicates very well and that parents are a valued part of the team enabled effectively to support their children… Communication is excellent and parents feel confident to contact the Academy and know that their concerns are acted upon. Communication via the Red Books was also mentioned frequently as an effective tool to support home to school links together with Tapestry .Courses and workshops are provided to support parents as partners in learning and also in relation to their children's development and again this is very much on a needs-led basis.
Pupils were able to share information on how the Academy supported and involved their parents and families in their learning, both at home, on site and also in relation to general school life. They provided information on communication links between home and the Academy and how Tapestry worked to enhance this... Information was also shared on other ways that the school communicated with their families including telephone calls and invitations to celebration events including Easter Fayre and Summer Funday. Pupils provided information about the curriculum and how their parents could help them with this as well as taking part in sporting events and forest schools. Anyone from their families that wanted to be involved could be and parents were also viewed as integral to setting up and supporting events by helping with funding etc.
With the wider community
SECTION 6: SUMMARY
Gosberton House Academy is an excellent school that offers high quality specialist education and care for autistic pupils. The Academy has rightly achieved a range of awards. It is not complacent but is constantly seeking to improve and build upon good practice.
It is very clear from reading pupil records and comments from family members that impact that the academy has is nothing less than transformative. Pupils make significant gains in their communication, social skills and ‘readiness to learn’. They thrive from being part of a caring, supportive community and their confidence and self-esteem are boosted. The benefits offered by the Academy are difficult to overstate and set a foundation for autistic children to lead a more fulfilling, productive and happy lives.