Heltwate School is extremely proud to announce that in March 2023 it  has been awarded with the Autism Advanced Status Accreditation by the National Autistic Society (NAS). Building on the success of initial accreditation in 2020.

This is the highest level of accreditation awarded by the NAS and is an internationally recognised standard. This confirms that the school provides a high level of consistent practice that benefits the learning and achievement of all of our young people. This acknowledgement underpins the passion, pride and professionalism in our and wider therapeutic input. The effectiveness of our consistent approach is embraced in every aspect of the daily learning, engagement and wider participation of all our young people.

Highlights from the report include:

  •   Pupil Passports identify how each autistic pupil prefers to communicate and what motivates them to socially interact with others. They identify each  pupil’s skills and challenges in independent functioning 
  •   staff made themselves understood by simplifying and structuring their verbal language, pupils were able to work out what they must do now and what they are expected to do next
  •   where appropriate autistic pupils could make themselves understood by access to augmentative or alternative communication systems.
  •    Intensive interaction when used was very strong,
  •   The skills and challenges of each autistic pupil are outlined in a number of documents, such as, EHCPs, Pupil Passports, Risk Reduction Plans and Individual Learning Plans.
  •    Promoting pupils’ independence skills was a strength throughout all observations.
  •   Individual Learning Plans provide evidence that pupils are working towards achievable targets with regards to their sensory experiences. Each pupil at Heltwate school follows an individual ‘curriculum journey’
We continue to work on developing the students’ social, emotional, and self-regulation skills by equipping them with strategies needed to engage with the teaching and opportunities offered in a safe and positive environment. At Heltwate we strive to support each child to be as independent as they can be in their life and we celebrate each child’s successes and efforts.

Staff provide chances to develop pupils’ understanding of the world and develop their life skills in real life contexts, this is done through exploratory play, role play as well as through taught life skills activities. We also create opportunities to expand pupils’ experiences and develop their social skills by taking the children to visit places in the community, supported by social stories. This gives them chances to engage with members of the public in places such as libraries, shops, and museums.The children learn how to conduct themselves in these public places, which then also supports the development of their communication and basic functional self-help skills.

Pupils are also given support throughout the school to manage their emotions and self regulate. Calm spaces are provided for the students to use as and when required. Pupils have access to a range of sensory resources in their classrooms and each of our sites also has a sensory room for pupils to use. Daily Sensory Circuits also run across all three of the Heltwate sites and pupils have regular movement breaks. 

An emphasis on functional communication is an integral component across the school and we support a total communication approach. We work on verbal language, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECs), British Sign Language (BSL), symbol use, Technology used for communication and we teach the children how they can use this as their communication method. We ensure that verbal language is kept to a minimum to avoid sensory and language processing issues, so language is supported with symbols, (Communication in Print), to fully meet with the needs of our pupils.