A DERBY special school has been praised by a national charity for supporting children and young people with autism and giving them access to a variety of community projects.
St Giles School, in Hampshire Road, are now an official Autism Accredited School after meeting the requirements and standards set by the National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for people with autism
Autism Accreditation is an autism-specific quality assurance programme. It was set up by the charity in 1992 to improve the support available to autistic people in organisations throughout the UK and across the world, including local authorities, NHS trusts, education authorities, schools, colleges and more.
To gain accreditation, organisations have to meet a standard of excellence and follow a framework for continuous self-examination and development. Over 500 organisations are now accredited – including St Giles – and, in April, British Airways became the first ‘autism friendly’ airline.
Staff at St Giles have been working alongside the National Autistic Society over the last few years, to make sure that they have an excellent working knowledge of methods and approaches which will really make a difference to pupils with autism.
Emily Deacon, learning tutor at St Giles, played a key role in working closely with the assessment team, bringing together some of the key pieces of evidence to showcase what the school does well for children with autism. She said: “The staff team work really hard to provide excellent provision for all pupils and we are very proud to be celebrating the achievement of this accreditation.
“The standards set by the National Autistic Society are very high but as a whole school community we were able to confidently showcase that we are doing day to day is really benefitting children with autism.”
Executive head teacher Clive Lawrence is delighted with the outcome of this on-going piece of work and the positive feedback which the assessors from the National Autistic Society gave the school.
He said: “We wanted to quality assure the work which we currently do with pupils on the autism spectrum here at St Giles School.
“Our school was praised by the National Autistic Society for the alternative provisions we provide, including outdoor learning facilities in the classroom Forest School, our Learning Kitchen and Nurture Group.
“The team were commended for their work in encouraging our pupils to take positive risks through outdoor learning and the way in which they access the local community and promote independence was admired.
“Parent voice played a key part in the school achieving such recognition, as they were able to share their views and experiences with the assessors. As always, we have high levels of positive parent/carer feedback and I am extremely grateful for the support and commitment that our parents and families show towards the school.
“Working in partnership, we all continue to make St Giles a great place for all children; including those with autism, to feel happy, included and able to learn.”
The report also noted that the structured teaching approaches throughout the school and the way in which autistic pupils were well supported in their communication, sensory regulation and emotional well-being was commendable.
Stephen Dedridge, head of Autism Accreditation (South) said: “Autism Accreditation highlights good autism practice. It is a great thing in itself and, we believe, will inspire other organisations and services to improve the way in which they support autistic people.
“There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than one in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.
“Autism is a spectrum condition. This means autistic people have their own strengths and varying complex needs, from 24-hour care to simply needing clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work and school. Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.
“Everyone at St Giles School should be exceptionally proud of their achievement. The National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation programme was launched over 25 years ago and sets extremely high standards, which the school has worked incredibly hard to meet.”
Picture shows (from left): Talha, Diane Overton (teaching assistant), Reagan, Helen Singleton (teaching assistant), Emily Deacon (Learning tutor), Elijah, Clive Lawrence (Executive head teacher at St Giles School).
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