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School Evaluation

School Self Evaluation

  • Leaders maintain the good quality of education for pupils
  • Pupils settle quickly and well. Staff know and understand their individual special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities.
  • Pastoral care for all ages is outstanding as a result of knowing the children very well and the support for their families.
  • Relationships between staff and pupils are highly positive. This results in lessons that run smoothly so pupils can learn and progress well.
  • Leaders ensure that pupils have meaningful opportunities for work placements. They are prepared well for the next stage of their education or work.  This is enhanced through the strong work with Gatsby profiling
  • Leaders have established effective links with businesses and other external providers. The school has a very good reputation in the community.
  • All pupils who left the school in July 2018 went on to further education or work after gaining suitable qualifications. This is the norm.
  • Pupils behave exceptionally well. This is because staff work hard to meet their needs.
  • Pupils are happy and want to achieve well.
  • Pupils make good and often better progress from their starting points in writing and mathematics.
  • The youngest children settle quickly and well into the routines of school. Adults provide precisely for their needs.
  • The majority of parents are very happy with the work of the school. They appreciate the pastoral care their children receive.

National Autistic Society (NAS) Autism Accreditation (October 2016)

AUTISM ACCREDITATION PEER REVIEW

SERVICE REVIEWED:     The Collett School                    

DATES OF REVIEW:       18th-19th October 2016            

TEAM MEMBERS:           Jean Mockford and Dionne Steadman

 

OVERVIEW OF PROVISION

Collett School is a purpose built special school designed and built in the 1960s. It is located on a hill with views across Hemel Hempstead and a large field and playgrounds situated on the Lower, Middle and Upper School. Care has been taken within school to create lively displays alongside clearly demarcated areas and low arousal breakout rooms. Outside equipment includes cross trainers, a trampoline and an adventure playground. 

There are two attractive wooden tree houses that are used as a classroom and a library. There is also a miniature building that resembles a thatched cottage that is used as a shop to sell items to raise money for charity. The garage has been converted into an eco-classroom and porta cabins have been converted into classrooms and cladded to give a unified look across the school.  Centrally located is an area called The Hive with therapeutic rooms. The main Hive room is a therapy space used by SALT and OT. The Lavender room is a chill out room and the Thyme room has workstations for the whole school to access. There is also a traditional sensory room and a 1-1 intervention room.  The school has plans to develop the site further that include an improved entrance, a track around the school field for running, cycling, scooting and Segway, a Zip Wire from the tree house classrooms and an activity track in the wooded area to help to improve fitness. 

 

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

Observations

The Review Team observed 20 sessions. Approximately 10 hours were spent on observations. These included class lessons, small groups and 1-1 interventions as well as playtime and transitions home. 

On average class observations were of 8-12 pupils with a teacher and two/three teaching assistants. Pupils were also observed in the dining hall, at break, on arrival to school and transitions to home.  

 

Interviews and Discussions Meetings were held with:

Head 

Hive Manager

Outreach Lead Teacher

Assistant HT (Behaviour)

Assistant HT (Progress Literacy)

SALTs

School Council

Parents

Lead Data 

Lead Numeracy

Leads Academic Interventions

SENCO

Head Boy and Head Girl

Family Support Worker

 

Documentation

The review team reviewed a range of documents that included:

Autism Specific Policies  

Hertfordshire Autism Handbook

Sensory Guidelines

The Hive Whole School Intervention Strategy

CAPPS progress monitoring / tracking

Pupil Progress data

Individual plans including positive behaviour

Individual pupil intervention planning sheets

Learning Interventions / progress Vulnerable learners

Case Studies

Lesson Plans 

Pupil profiles / Pen Portraits

Pupil Sensory Diets

Sensory modulation programmes 

EHCPs

Positive sensory profiles

Staff Handbook Social stories

Pupils’ work

SALT objectives

Parent liaison information

Photos / Newsletters

Classroom environment document

Changing Together Booklet

Extra Curricula Activities and Community Links

Lunch clubs

Rewards 

Class files

 

PROGRESS MADE TOWARDS PREVIOUS RECOMMENDATIONS

The Team felt that the although the school has worked extremely hard towards meeting the requirements of the previous recommendations regarding Specialist Standard 3 and Core Standard 10 there are still some minor actions needed, in some areas, to ensure consistency across the school. Therefore, the Team felt that these standards had been majority met and the recommendation from this current review are designed to give the school further opportunities to build on the now-established good practice in most areas of the school.  

 

Recommendation

Action taken to address recommendation

Specialist Standard 3 – Teaching / Learning-Organisation and

Resources

Recognising the visual strengths of individuals on the autism spectrum, an area for development is to raise awareness of the importance of supporting structure and instruction through visual resources, including photographs, symbols and the written word, consistently across all aspects of the school day.

Since the last review there is evidence that the school has gone a long way in developing the use of visual resources and a supporting structure.  Key staff have been TEACCH trained and classes have visual timetables, instruction and topic boards, now and next prompts, visual cue cards and individual target charts. Resources have been improved to ensure a more multi sensory approach and teaching materials include photographs, pictures, videos, interactive story props, objects of reference and artefacts.    However during some observations the team felt that there were still some minor missed opportunities where a greater use of visual prompts would have enhanced understanding and instruction.  The team felt that this recommendation therefore has been majority met.

 

Core Standard 10-Communication

Recognising the communication difficulties experienced by individuals with autism, an area for development is to monitor the appropriate use of language and processing time to ensure pupils on the autism spectrum are able to understand and to follow instruction.

In observations, adults were seen to modify their language and use visuals to enable the pupils time to process information. There has been training from SALTs in the use of Social Stories and autism training delivered by the Autism Advisor for Herts. There has been some training on PECS but this needs further development. The Language of Thinking resource has been introduced and individual pupils who experience delay in processing have a communication passport.  A communication group has been set up for identified pupils and Lego therapy introduced.

The Team felt that this recommendation had been majority met.

Specialist Standard 9 – Well-Being – Promoting Independence The review team consider an area for development to be the provision of planned and specific opportunities to promote independence across the school day for children of all ages

The team saw many opportunities for the promotion of independence across the school in the form of choice making, taking responsibility, management of timetables, earning money from jobs, self-checking work, well established routines and pupil led activities such as giving out snacks.. The pupils were confident and self assured. The school has also started using the Alert Programme, older pupils support younger readers and were also seen to be playground ’buddies’ to the younger pupils. Pupils also can choose to go to clubs in the Hive at lunchtimes. 

The Team felt that this recommendation had been fully met

 

Core Standard 7 – Individual Plans 

Specialist Standard 4 – Methods

Raising the profile and accessibility of individual targets related to the Triad of Impairments and Sensory Issues, including their presentation in ‘child friendly’ terms is considered by the review team as an area for development.

The school has introduced sensory profiles, positive behaviour plans, communication passports and pupil profiles. These detailed assessments are shared with the pupils and their parents and individual pupil targets are displayed in classrooms. Pupils also have targets for positive behaviour and work through colour grading (bronze, silver gold etc.) to achieve a reward.  Pupils are also encouraged to learn to self regulate their emotional state and targets are set for lunch clubs to help support communication and interaction. 

The Team felt that this recommendation had been fully met. 

 

KEY FINDINGS

As a result of this process, the following areas were identified as examples of what the service does well. 

Specific areas of strength

Reasoning

1.  Specialist Standard 1: Environment

The environment at Collett School has changed radically since the last review. External areas have been creatively redesigned to a very high standard with exciting and imaginative wooden buildings such as ‘Yurt’ style tree houses and a miniature thatched cottage. Attractive play areas have been developed and a sensory hub. All of these motivating developments have enhanced pupils’ learning opportunities, interaction and play.

 

The school has worked hard to consider how the environment impacts on young people with autism.  The development of the sensory hub, the Hive, brings together a cluster of rooms where therapeutic and sensory interventions take place and where young people can take themselves if they want to work independently or have respite when anxious. The emphasis within the Hive is to provide an environment where pupils’ strengths and successes are recognised and strategies are given to help them over come their learning challenges. This central calm space enables professionals from different agencies to work alongside the school to ensure that the multisensory needs of the young people are met. 

In addition to the Hive the school has invested in its outdoor learning environment.  The new play areas give the pupils an opportunity to play interactively with their friends. The equipment offers challenge and risk as well as supporting vestibular and proprioceptive development.  The two tree houses are exciting buildings and one houses a library and the other the learning interventions classroom. Between the two buildings is a rope bridge that the young people enjoy enormously.   The school council is involved in developing ideas for the environment and one pupil spoke very positively about the confidence the pupils have in their head teacher who always comes through with the new developments they have been promised.  

In addition to the play areas the school has created quiet ‘break out’ rooms and the pupils are encouraged to make decisions about their use by learning about self-regulation and the management of their own behavior.  It was evident to the Team that pupils respected their environment and benefited from the wide range of different areas that they could use to improve their interaction and social skills.   

2. Core Standard 6: Assessment, Reporting, Recording and Evaluation.

Core Standard 7: Individual Plans

 

Detailed multi disciplinary assessments enable all staff to work with and support pupils from a sound knowledge base. These assessments, in conjunction with very specific and comprehensive pupil progress monitoring and interventions raise pupil self confidence and self esteem and enhance their achievements

 

 

 

Every pupil has an individual pupil profile that provides a summary of their needs, targets, communication preferences and individual interests.  Pupils have a sensory profile as well as a behaviour plans if appropriate The school employs a SENCO who works with the pupils and families on their EHCP targets and attends all annual reviews. Progress is monitored using CAPPs system (small steps) and in addition to core curriculum subjects also measures progress in communication, PSD and Kinaesthesia. Each term summative assessment is undertaken and curriculum achievements are recorded in the CAPPs system.  Teachers attend pupil progress meetings and those who need additional support are identified for intervention programmes in the Hive or additional learning area.  The attention to detail in the rigorous assessments and tracking ensures that the pupils are given every opportunity to succeed.

 

 

3  Core Standard 13:Family and Support Links

 

The communication with parents and partnership working is exceptional. Parents are effusive about the variety of different ways that they are kept informed about their child’s progress learning and well-being. They feel that the school is inclusive in its approach listens to them and supports their child’s needs as well as their own. Parents praise the way the school individualises and personalises their approaches for each child. In the words of one parent ‘ The school really gets him’.  

The very high number of parent questionnaire returns and the extremely positive responses give a clear indication of the high esteem in which parents hold the school.  At the parents’ meeting the message was that they all felt supported, well informed and that their child was receiving the best possible support. Parents can access information via a number of routes and all felt that the staff at the school were very open and willing to be contacted at any time.  Every Friday parents are invited to the head teacher’s assembly and this is an occasion where pupils share achievements and celebrations. Parents are invited into other school events and have formed a parent support group that meets weekly for coffee. The school organises support for young people who have difficulties with the dentist or hairdresser.  Some parents praised the school for giving them social stories to help with home issues.  There was agreement that the school has high aspirations for their children.   The school has a Parent Liaison Worker who supports families in a more formal capacity with activities such as form completion, attending meetings with school or outside agencies, making home visits, supporting with mental health issues and welfare visits.   She is also an Art Therapist and offers this to pupils. Parents are very clear that this very close working between school and families has enable them to improve their understanding of autism and given them the skills to be able to manage and support their children’s learning and behavior. 

4. Core Standard 15: Sensory Issues

Since the last review the school has made further significant developments to their sensory provision and practice. There is clear evidence of low arousal environments, multisensory stimuli, pupils’ self-regulation and a wide range of sensory toys and equipment. Sensory integration is understood and valued across the school.

 

The school has appointed a sensory needs lead teacher who leads the Hive Team (sensory and learning interventions) There has been whole school sensory training led by an OT. Two TAs have attended a sensory workshop at the Child Development centre. 

Collaborative practice can be seen between the learning Interventionist teacher and sensory lead to ensure joint working to support individual pupil progress. The impact of these interventions is tracked between professionals. The Lead teacher collaborates with the OT to develop sensory intervention programmes for individuals. Pupils have sensory workshops and programmes are written for class teachers to follow.  The Alert programme is used across the school and many sensory supports can be seen, such as ear defenders, sensory toys, twiddles and the like.  The sensory room is located in the centre of the school for whole school access. There is a flexibility of approach throughout the day so pupils can use the sensory room and other alternative areas if they are finding aspects of the day too noisy or stressful. Outside of classrooms there are tents and a sensory chair where pupils can go to be calm. The Lavender room is a quiet, calm space in the Hub where pupils can go and self regulate. Every classroom has an attached calming / breakout room where pupils can choose to go. Some have lights, weighted blankets, beanbags, rugs etc.

The atmosphere at Collett is calm and purposeful. The attention to detail that has been given to the design and ethos of the Hive means that pupils are able to make progress with their learning because their sensory needs are being addressed

 

5.  Core Standard 12: Behaviour Support –Policy and

Practice and Staff Support

The school has a thorough and detailed approach towards managing behaviour at Collett positively and proactively. All staff are trained in the Hertfordshire Steps programme with the HT

Pupils’ well being is a high priority and this is reflected in the exceptionally good behaviour seen across the school. The calm and low arousal environment within the Hive enables pupils to self-regulate, reduce their anxieties and manage their behaviour more effectively. Pupils across the school show respect for each other, sharing and celebrating achievements

 

 

 

 

and senior team trained as trainers. The de-escalation of incidents is a priority strategy and physical interventions are only carried out as a last resort where there may be potential danger to the young person, others or property. In the rare case that this happens incidents are reported to parents and monitored by the LEA.

Individual behaviour plans are in place and regularly reviewed. The OT devises a sensory diet in collaboration with the school and the Hive Team, working closely with other professionals, set up behavioural interventions to support pupils and staff.  There is evident understanding of the link between sensory needs, emotional wellbeing and behaviour. Incidents are analysed using an ABC approach and staff have access to a debriefing session afterwards with their Team Leader or member of the SLT. 

 

The following actions were also identified for the service to work on:

Actions for development

Reasoning

1 To further develop, already established good practice, as seen in some areas of the school, more differentiated and kinesthetic learning activities that will encourage greater social interaction, communication and independent learning.

 

Where practice was seen to be good young people were given differentiated activities, appropriate to their ability and interests and supported by visual, sensory and practical tools.  Instructions were clear and simplified as required with task boards, lists, modelling and demonstration. Where there were missed opportunities instructions were delivered verbally with no additional tools to help the young people fully grasp what was expected of them. In addition activities were not differentiated with an expectation that all pupils would complete the same activity with the same end result.  The Team saw evidence of one pupil who was fully engaged and self-motivated in one lesson where activities were tailored to meet his needs and yet he had previously been seen to opt out of two lessons where there was a ‘whole group’ expectation. 

2. To further develop the use of age appropriate visual prompts across the school day to enhance understanding, reduce adult language and enable pupils to have more processing time.

Although the Team saw some excellent practice across the school including a very young class who were enjoying the story of The Little Red Hen and an older class who were problem solving algebraic equations there were examples where there was too much ‘adult talk’ either in giving instructions or explaining the activity as it went along.  As a consequence adults ‘jumped in’ to re-explain without giving the young person an opportunity to think through a question or next step.  

 

   

FAMILY QUESTIONNAIRE SCORES

SCORES

 Number of Questionnaires sent out (information provided by the service):

 

 

Number of Questionnaires returned:

53

 

Number of sections not scored (figures only reflect sections scored):

4

 

VERY UNHAPPY

UNHAPPY

SATISFIED

HAPPY

VERY HAPPY

Contact

 

1

 

8

44

Support

 

1

3

9

40

Advice

 

1

5

7

38

Involvement

 

2

4

8

37

TOTALS

0

5

12

32

159

PERCENTAGES

0%

2.40%

5.76%

15.38%

76.44%

             

Parents’ comments from the questionnaires:

My comments for questions 1,2,3 and 4 are that the Collett School is amazing. My child has come on so much since starting here.  There are several ways that my child’s school communicates with me; letters home, texts and a weekly catch up of all school’s achievements and activities via email. At all mainstream schools that my children have attended communication has been a big issue but Collett are fantastic. My son has made so much progress since he started Collett School. Collett is a fantastic school. We get regular updates and a plan of the school term so we can talk with our children about their topics. My child has been at this school for six years and it has been a pleasure to see him blossom. His needs have always been met by the school and he has always been encouraged to grow. My son has hugely complex needs. I think it has taken the school a while to really understand him. The school has always been a huge support to my son.

The teachers are patient and considerate     

They cater for all his individual needs and quirks              

The Headmaster is outstanding.

I am sorry to say that there is not enough training and knowledge at my son’s school about autism      

My child is very capable with many new life style skills. My daughter feels happy and safe at Collett School. The staff skills and knowledge are very helpful and supportive

The happiest, most secure place for my son with people who expect him to succeed and develop.   

 

       Criteria for Observations

Fully Met

Each autistic person receives highly effective support based on a full understanding of their capabilities, strengths and challenges. As a result there are clearly evident positive outcomes and no identified areas for development.

Majority Met

Support for each autistic person is highly effective in most cases and situations and is based on an understanding of individual capabilities, strengths and challenges. Overall outcomes are positive but there are some relatively minor actions the service could take to improve practice further.

             

Partially Met

         Support for each autistic person is reasonably effective and shows some understanding of individual need. There are some positive outcomes but also significant actions the service should take to improve practice further.

            

  Not Met

             Support for each autistic person is ineffective and shows a limited understanding of individual need. There are little or no positive outcomes and considerable actions the service should take to improve practice.

 

OBSERVATION SCORES

 

Topic

Not Met

Partially Met

Majority Met

Fully Met

Differences in social communication

0

3

9

8

Self-reliance and problem solving

0

2

9

9

Sensory experiences

0

2

8

10

Emotional well-being

0

1

7

12

TOTAL

0

8

33

39

PERCENTAGE

0

10

41

49

 

FINDINGS FROM OBSERVATIONS  

Topic

Comments

Differences in Social

Communication

 

The school has 0.8 full time equivalent, speech and language therapy input.  Detailed assessments of each pupil have ensured that most staff pitch their language and communication appropriately and support this with key makaton signs and / or visual prompts.  Adults use a good balance of open and closed questioning and most give appropriate thinking time. An example of good practice was seen during a maths lesson where both the teacher and the pupils were respectful of the need to wait for a particular pupil to answer a question.  Where appropriate, additional support is seen across the school for PECS users with PECS books being displayed or carried around. PECS symbols are used at snack times and to request activities and toys. The Team felt that this could now be extended into other activities.  In one of the youngest classes pupils were encouraged to communicate ‘ you need to use your own words’ and when a drink was spilt ‘ what do we need to do?’. Adults were aware of the need to focus a young person by saying their name first before asking a question and in some classes symbol boards were used to support comprehension and expressive language. In an Art lesson a practical problem solving activity, undertaken in groups, was successful in ensuring that pupils were given the opportunity to interact with their peers and discuss possible solutions.  To further support language development the Team felt that the adult verbal support could have been reduced and replaced with prompt cards or other visual prompts.  In an RE lesson pupils were motivated initially by the introductory activity but opportunities were missed to develop communication between pupils as the lesson was delivered to the whole class group.  The Team thought that more opportunities could be made for pupils to experience paired or small group work to enhance social interaction especially as there is a high ratio of staff to students to support more challenging activities.

In some classes social stories and scripts are on display for some students to support behaviour / understanding in social situations.   The investment by the school in attractive play equipment has enabled good social interaction at break and lunchtimes. 

Self reliance             and problem solving

In most classrooms visual timetables are on display and being used appropriately. In younger classes pupils are directed to individual timetables to support transitions. In the Hive and in some classes individual schedules are also used to support microtransitions.  The Team felt that in some cases an additional schedule breaking down the order of events during the lesson or an activity might have helped to focus some pupils more successfully. The introduction of the Alert programme across the school is enabling pupils to learn to self regulate. Now and next boards are being used successfully in some classes. In classrooms areas are clearly demarcated and labelled to enable independent functioning. Cupboards and trays are labelled so the pupils can develop self-reliance however occasionally the adults step in too quickly to ensure pupils have all the necessary equipment. In one case the glue hadn’t been given out. The teacher remedied this instead of waiting to see if any of the pupils requested it. Photographs were seen to be being used successfully to support independence and learning. These ranged from photos of pupils on hooks and chairs to ingredients needed for a recipe.  Pupils were given many opportunities for choice. These ranged from snacks, including pupils giving other pupils a choice of snacks, to choosing equipment, learning resources, activities and imaginary choices ‘ what would you like to find in the box?’

There were examples of different strategies to support with micro transitions and ending activities such as using sand timers, traffic lights etc.  Some verbal countdowns were used but these were less effective than music or visual prompts. Pupils were encouraged to monitor their own noise and volume charts were seen in use in some classrooms. Evidence of problem solving was seen in two lessons with older pupils. In one lesson pupils were tasked to build a free standing tower with different materials

     

 

 

and in the other pupils were working through solutions to equations gaining understanding that there wasn’t necessarily a ‘right’ answer. Both lessons gave scope for the young people to experiment and use trial and error. However they also introduced an element of risk for young people with autism as both activities had the potential to cause frustration because of the lack of a ‘correct’ approach. In a music lesson the activity was to create and repeat rhythms. The pupils enjoyed this initially but there was a missed opportunity for problem solving when the class was kept working together rather than pupils creating different rhythms on their own. In the youngest class routines were well established for storytelling and pupils took responsibility for characters and actively joined into the story. 

The Team felt that a range of age appropriate visual prompts being used to support differentiated activities would enhance the opportunities for self-reliance and problem solving.  

  

Sensory Experiences

The school has seen an increase in the numbers of pupils with sensory processing difficulties. To meet the needs of the young people classrooms have been organised as low arousal areas with calming / sensory rooms attached. However In one classroom the opposite has been created and the young people have opted for a highly stimulating classroom with a range of different animals in cages. The ‘break out’ rooms have been designed specifically for the pupils in each of the classes and so there is no ‘uniform’ style to their layout or what they contain.  Pupils know that they are spaces they can retreat to if they are feeling over stimulated and in need of a calm space to relax. Classrooms have easy access to outside spaces so pupils take a break and leave a lesson to use the trampoline, walk or run around.  After an active PE session and break one group was seen to follow a routine of calming using a commercially produced programme screened on the whiteboard. Lights were dimmed and pupils got blankets and sensory toys.   During another PE lesson pupils followed a circuit where activities supported vestibular and proprioceptive movement along with encouraging risk taking and problem solving. One pupil was observed trying out different ways to walk along a floor level balance beam experimenting with going backwards, sideways and jumping with two feet.  Ropes enabled pupils to swing and hang upside down and balancing skills were developed using a large space hopper and balance ball. There was clear evidence in all lessons observed that adults had thought carefully about including sensory resources, activities and equipment within the learning experience. This could be seen from the youngest class who had a wide range of different textured snacks through to the oldest class where one group was tasked to build the tower out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti. Pupils also use ear defenders, weighted blankets, chewys, Thera bands around chair legs, squashing machine outside classrooms, wobble cushions and sensory toys. The newly introduced Alert programme is still in early stages but one pupil was observed carrying her emotions scale around with her and using it appropriately. 

The very high priority given to sensory integration has had an impact on reducing anxiety and as a consequence behaviour is very good across the school. 

 

 

Emotional well-being

The school uses the ‘step Up’ approach to behaviour.  There is an exceptionally positive feel across the school and pupils respond well to praise. Every week there is an achievement assembly led by the Head Teacher. One new pupil was very proud to show one of the Team his completed Bronze Award Chart that he had gained by achieving set targets in a very short time since joining the school.  Behaviour plans are generally in place only for the younger pupils as the school has worked hard with older pupils to help them self regulate. There are also opportunities in place for older pupils to increase their self-esteem by being mentors for the younger pupils. This was observed in a maths lesson and on the playground at

 

lunchtime.  It was evident in lessons that pupils were happy to be there and keen to join in and participate.  Relationships between adults and pupils were positive and there was respect between pupils to pupils. 

During the review the atmosphere across the school was very calm and the couple of incidents seen where youngsters were experiencing difficulty were managed positively and quickly. Members of the school council talked very enthusiastically about their school and were keen to let the Team know that their opinions and wishes were definitely listened to. 

The very good behaviour across the school is as a consequence of the sensory strategies and the impact of a varied and interesting environment with a lot of flexibility of use.  

In lessons pupils worked cooperatively with adults and other pupils.  Younger pupils were encouraged to help others during snack time and to take responsibility for classroom tasks.   The very good family links have also been instrumental in supporting positive behaviour.  

 

CONCLUSION

Collett School is a happy, vibrant, warm and welcoming place. All adults have a clear understanding of autism and work collaboratively to ensure that the young people have access to a wide range of activities and learning opportunities. The celebration of small steps of achievement gives confidence to the pupils and develops their self-esteem and self worth. It is evident that they enjoy being at school.