Pupils With Autism

We offer a specialist service for children on the autistic spectrum with additional learning and communication difficulties, who require an individualised, highly structured and integrated educational and therapeutic provision delivered within a Total Communication approach. Our pupils require a bespoke package, typically in a small class group with at least 1:1 support.

In The Hillcrest Centre, teachers, therapists and support staff work in a fully integrated way, ensuring that a child centred holistic approach is core to practice. We recognise that all children with ASD experience three main areas of difficulty known as ‘The Triad of Impairments’. Our curriculum and the way we plan, teach and communicate with our pupils has the triad at its centre. We use the SCERTS framework to underpin planning and assessment, ensuring the development of Social Communication and Emotional Regulations skills are a priority. These skills are essential to enable our pupils to access the curriculum and wider world.

Our lively, engaging and innovative curriculum is thematic. It is reviewed every three years, which enables us to adapt to pupil cohorts and take into account pupil interests. Each pupil will be encouraged to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and self-esteem to overcome their barriers and meet the challenges of adult life. Within each termly topic theme, we aim to cover all areas of the National Curriculum, at a level appropriate to each pupil. Our aim with each topic is to bring together the whole Hillcrest Centre, during each termly enrichment week.

The 14-19 curriculum is planned around the Preparation for Adulthood key areas; Good Health and Wellbeing, Independent Living Skills and Relationships and Community. Students are offered a range of external accreditation including Entry Level, Unit Awards, City & Guilds, Duke of Edinburgh, ASDAN Life Skills Challenge and ASDAN Towards Independence courses.

We provide a low arousal, flexible teaching environment, with pupils following individual programmes, which are based on our detailed knowledge of each child and thoroughly embedded with the principles of Positive Behaviour Support. We use a variety of approaches such as Intensive Interaction, TEACCH principles, Forest/Beach School, Lego Therapy, Baking Therapy, smiLE programme and Music Therapy. Pupils may also have access to social communication groups, rebound therapy, sensory circuits, yoga, outdoor and adventurous activities in the local community, work placements, theatre trips and many more activities tailored to support individual learning needs. An emphasis on functional and independence skills, communication and our integrated approach to planning, delivery and assessment is at the heart of our curriculum.

As a school, we are accredited by The National Autistic Society (NAS), which provide an autism specific quality assurance programme for organisations throughout the UK and internationally. The accreditation award provides a unified standard of excellence and a systematic framework for continuous self-examination and development. We are assessed every 6 months, with a full inspection every 3 years.

We have been accredited since 2012 and are especially recognised for the amount of progress each child makes from their initial starting point. In November 2019 NAS awarded us ‘Advanced’ status, making us one of fewer than 20 schools in the UK with the top rating. We were also shortlisted for the National Association of Special Schools ‘Outstanding Impact’ award 2021, for our work on Positive Behaviour Support.