ACCESS CENTRE - Local Offer
A specialist provision for students on the Autism Spectrum.
The Access Centre is a happy, welcoming and supportive provision where students with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum can learn, flourish and achieve success in a positive, nurturing environment designed specifically to meet their spectrum of need.
The centre opened in April 2014 and is situated in the heart of Chipping Sodbury mainstream school. It comprises of small group rooms; a kitchen/dining room where students are supported and encouraged to use the appliances to promote independence and life skills and a specially designed enclosed garden with outdoor gym equipment, and areas to explore, to plant, to sit and to play. In addition, our students have opportunities for exclusive use of the main school facilities such as science labs, technology classrooms, music and sports facilities.
Staff at the Access Centre are experienced and skilled at working with young people on the autism spectrum and their calm, respectful, nurturing approach ensures our students make progress above expectations.
A team of subject teachers from our mainstream school are timetabled to teach in the centre contributing their expert subject knowledge whilst working in close partnership with the centre staff.
The Access Centre team also includes a speech and language therapist, educational psychologist, an occupational therapist and a CAMHS specialist who meet regularly with students, families and staff to share their knowledge and expertise. Programmes of support are devised within this multi-professional team ensuring a consistent, structured approach to learning and positive outcomes.
Ms Turner, Headteacher and Mr Nick Hunt, Head of Inclusion are actively involved in supporting the work of the Access Centre. They have a very good understanding of our students’ needs and are supportive of parents and staff. This is also true of the schools’ governing body.
To provide the best learning experience for students on the autism spectrum Chipping Sodbury School include autism awareness as part of the whole school training programme. Each member of staff has received certificated training on autism delivered through The Autism Education Trust schools’ programme, while new staff have autism awareness training as part of their induction programme. Mrs Annette Box, Manager of the Access Centre, is the school’s autism specialist and advises staff of strategies to employ in the classroom, in the school environment and in the Access Centre. In addition, advice and support can also be sought from education and healthcare professionals within the local authority.
Students with a statement of educational need or an education and health care plan are placed at the centre by South Gloucestershire Local Authority in consultation with the school, parents and professionals supporting the family. The Access Centre is suited to students with an autism spectrum diagnosis who are of mainstream academic ability but find the mainstream school environment totally overwhelming and where Resource Base supportive inclusion has failed. During the consultation period the Access Centre Manager will gather information about the student from a number of sources such as the student’s current school, parents, and professionals involved with the student and their family. An observation or a meeting of the student will take place as part of this process. Parents and students are able to visit the Access Centre to gain a good understanding of what it offers.
At the Access Centre we acknowledge and value the importance of working in equal partnership with parents and carers and believe students are able to reach their potential through our close liaison.
Staff at the Access Centre recognise and appreciate transition and change to a new learning environment can be a highly stressful time for students and their families. We do our utmost to ensure anxiety is kept to a minimum by listening to students’ concerns, adopting a flexible, patient and caring approach, whist planning with families and other multi agency professionals.
Our approach to learning is through a differentiated curriculum, tailored and personalised wherever possible to build on the unique strengths of each student whilst encouraging them to take risks and discover new experiences to develop skills for life.
Our practice is reflective and flexible. Student targets are set out in aspiration maps and through continuous assessment, evidence of their progress and learning outcomes are recorded and celebrated. We also work closely with families, meeting regularly, sharing information and strategies to ensure learning needs at home are also taken into account at school.
The personalised curriculum incorporates the core subjects English, maths, science, ICT and PE as well as art, design and technology, food technology, humanities and personal, social, and health education (PSHE). There is also a keen emphasis on learning to learn and developing functional skills for life. Students’ views, opinions and interests shape their learning experience at the centre and are at the heart of all we do. Each student’s timetable is individualised and the amount of time apportioned to each subject may vary according to need and ability. Students may be taught in groups, pairs or individually at different points in the day. Our aim is to ensure each young person grows in confidence and independence, has the skills and opportunity to make informed choices, develop social and emotional awareness and has the best outcomes possible to fulfil their ambitions and potential.
We believe our students benefit greatly from the discrete social and physical environment the Access Centre provides, yet in addition we foster a sense of belonging to the whole school community. Planned opportunities to take part in mainstream school events where beneficial are supported, as well as visits and trips with opportunities to access the local community facilities and work experience.
Every student in the mainstream school has received training on autism as part of their education and reverse inclusion is encouraged. Students from mainstream school, keen to support, come to the centre regularly to mix socially with their peers; an enriching experience for all involved.
Our team appreciate parents know their children best and are keen to forge trusting partnerships with families and other professionals to ensure the best possible outcome for each student. Excellent communication between school and home is paramount. Concerns are addressed in consultation and collaboration whilst students’ achievements and successes are shared and celebrated. The annual review process is used to plan for the future, while regular parent teacher review meetings and informal coffee mornings or afternoon teas allow for “catch up” time on latest accomplishments and sharing of information. Feedback on students’ academic progress is in the form of a written report at the end of the Christmas term, Easter and summer. The Access Centre welcomes families and has an “open door” policy.
For further information, please contact Annette Box Access Centre Manager, Chipping Sodbury School Tel: 01454 862900