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Pontville Blog 152: Pontville School recognised for good autism practice

12 November 2021

Staff, pupils and parents from Pontville School are celebrating after they recently achieved the Advanced Status of the Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Autism Accreditation is an autism-specific quality assurance programme. It was set up by the National Autistic Society 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.

The acclaimed award, which aims to improve the quality of care and education for people with autism through a unified standard of excellence, provides parents and carers with peace of mind when choosing a school for their child. The accreditation is designed to provide autism-specific quality assurance on the provision and services a school offers.

In a letter to Jacqui Pilling, the school’s SENCo, Stephen Dedridge Head of Autism Accreditation (South) noted:

The assessment report provides compelling evidence that Pontville School offers highly personalised support for autistic young people rooted in a robust understanding of autism specific best practice approaches. Staff receive high quality continuous CPD to ensure they are well trained in these approaches. They are encouraged to be collaborative and reflective practitioners.

He continued:

The young people themselves are able to access a rich, varied and flexible educational and therapeutic curriculum which has a direct and significant impact on the quality of life of these young people not just whilst they attend the school but as they progress into adulthood. A number of strengths are highlighted in the report including the work of the clinical team; the transition process; the residential provision; community engagement and the importance placed on the Student’s Voice. There are some areas of development highlighted in the report but these relate to building upon existing good practice. 

The report noted:

  • There is a rich and varied curriculum available to students at the school which is flexible to their individual needs and future aspirations. Curriculums are planned with input from the clinical team and aim to provide opportunities for students to socialise, build confidence and work collaboratively
  • The clinical team work collaboratively to develop staff’s practice and support young people to break down barriers to education. The team are enthusiastic, experienced and central to the development and implementation of whole school autism specific approaches.
  • The outdoor learning provision and the forest school is a beacon of good practice for services across the UK. The outdoor learning team are enthusiastic, passionate and positive role models to the students. Carefully planned outdoor learning sessions provide opportunities for students to develop a wide variety of skills.
  • The well-resourced post 16 centre enables students to develop a wide variety of functional skills whilst completing vocational qualifications and developing skills to support them in their life after Pontville.
  • There is a high-quality programme of CPD delivered at the school which ensures that staff regularly receive training in a range of autism specific best practice methods and approaches. SMT are constantly reviewing the programme so that they can continuously support the development of staff.
  • Feedback from families was overwhelmingly positive, one parent stated that there is a “Flexible and positive balance between happiness, mental health and academic progress”. Another parent stated that the school provide “Outstanding support for my child. I have never felt reassurance like I do now and I now can relax when they go to school.

Head Teacher, Justine Sims commented:

"Pontville School has held the National Autistic Society Autism Accreditation since 2014. This year we were delighted to have gained Advanced Status – this is the highest level awarded by NAS. We are delighted to have achieved the highest award and we will continue to work hard to ensure so that all of our pupils excel in everything that they do."

Well done everyone.

Pupils and staff celebrate Advanced Status of the Autism Accreditation

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