School Self Evaluation (June 2020)
- The individual behaviour management is a strength within the school. Staff are quick to recognise when pupils are becoming heightened and successfully support pupils to ensure they are able to regulate.
- The PSD curriculum is fully embedded into all teaching across the school as well as being taught in explicit lessons. It enables the pupils learn and practice skills needed throughout life in a safe and supportive environment.
- St Luke's School's curriculum provides for pupils' broader development, with a focus on Personal and Social Development.
- Leaders are working hard to ensure the curriculum maintains its breadth and coverage as it develops Pathways for children of differing complex needs.
- KS4 outcomes demonstrate value added progress from the children's starting points in both academic and pastoral subject area qualifications.
- Preparation for the world of work is well-designed and supports children to see themselves as contributors to the workplace.
- Pupils settle quickly and well as a result of strong transitions into and out of the school.
- Pastoral care for all ages is excellent as a result of knowing the children very well and the support for their families.
- Relationships between staff and pupils are highly positive.
- 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 well as staff work hard to meet their needs through impactful interventions.
- Pupils are happy and want to achieve well.
- Pupils make good and often better progress from their starting points in a range of subject areas.
- The majority of parents are very happy with the work of the school. They appreciate the pastoral care their children receive.
- Attendance of some pupils is not good enough and the school is working to develop stronger systems and support for those who school-refuse and where children should be in school for other reasons.
- Behaviour management skills are not consistently strong across all members of staff, meaning that high expectations are not always consistently enforced.
- The school has a strong culture of safeguarding and is widening the team of professionals to ensure monitoring beyond the school's statutory responsibilities takes place, routinely.
Most Recent Ofsted Report (May 2019)
Most Recent National Autistic Society (NAS) Report (September 2018)
25th – 27th September 2018
SECTION 1: CONTENT
About the provision
- “St Luke’s is a special education needs school for pupils aged 7-16 with learning difficulties; this includes pupils with complex Moderate Learning Difficulties, Speech, Language and Communication Needs and Autism Spectrum Conditions.”
- There are currently 130 pupils on roll at the school of which 70 have a diagnosis of autism, a percentage of 53% of the population of the school. All but one of the autistic pupils within the school are verbal.
- St Luke’s has a sensory and intervention department within the school called Platform 9 ¾. The additional support provided here is designed to minimise barriers to learning and support pupils to self-regulate and build their confidence and independence.
- Platform 9 ¾ is set up with a permanent sensory circuit, den space and climbing wall with OT swings on order to be used within this space.
- There are plans for rooms to be developed and used as separate intervention spaces in addition to a room for all the therapists.
- St Luke’s currently has OT, SaLT and art therapy available to pupils who require it.
- The Executive Head took over in September 2017 and has made some radical changes within the school making significant improvement in the school and practice since this time. All changes were highlighted as sustainable by Ofsted in March 2018.
- A new Head of School has been in place since Easter 2018 and has been promoted from within the school.
- The school has now formed a federation with Forest House Education Centre and The Collet School, sharing good practice, expertise and staff between the settings.
- St Luke’s have received Silver Accreditation from Learning Outside the Classroom. For their site which includes a meadow, wildlife pond, small copse, allotment, life skills bungalow , outdoor classroom, sensory garden, sports field, playground, outdoor play equipment and an outdoor gym.
- Pupils are taught in Learning Groups for most of their lessons based in a home room consisting of 10-12 pupils of similar ability spanning different year groups. Each group will have a teacher and at least one TA.
- The Ark is a well-resourced animal provision which the pupils regularly access, this is managed and maintained by one member of staff who is in the process of getting the necessary training to use the school dog as a therapy dog.
- Within St Luke’s the DT space has been given to The Repair Shed, a group of volunteers who have been responsible for restoring the rooms and carrying out various projects within the school. Plans are in place to complete projects with the pupils with a view to selling the items to the community.
Outcome of most recent statutory assessment
- St Luke’s School was last inspected by Ofsted in March 2018. It was judged to be good in all areas.
- Key findings of particular relevance to provision for autistic people:
- Most pupils move confidently and welcome visitors enthusiastically, talking about their learning experiences with pride.
- You have fully audited the pupils’ needs to identify where there are gaps in the school’s provision. You have recruited specialists to ensure that these pupil’s needs are fully met.
- You have worked with leaders to establish a well thought out assessment system which gives you a full understanding of pupils’ starting points, academically and socially.
- The assessment system is helping leaders to identify where you can better meet the needs, abilities aspirations and interests of pupils, most notably some pupils who have autism spectrum disorders.
- You acknowledge that while teaching is improving, the learning needs of pupils are not yet fully met across the curriculum.
- Current pupils are not yet consistently making good social, emotional or academic progress.
- Staff practice in meeting some of the behavioural needs of pupils is improving. You are developing more specialists within the school who are accredited trainers in various techniques to support pupils. However, you acknowledge that leader’s analysis over time needs further sharpening so that leaders know the difference they are making to pupil’s behaviour.
Improvements Highlighted by Ofsted
- Support adults to plan learning that ensures that pupils make good progress over time, especially pupils who have autistic spectrum disorder.
- Sharpen the recording, monitoring and analysis of pupils’ behaviour.
About the assessment
- The assessment took place over 3 days. The school’s adviser took over the role of Lead Assessor with support from a Moderator.
- The assessment team observed a total 15 sessions over a period of 7 ½ hours. All classes were covered as well as cooking, animal care, lunch clubs and platform 9 ¾.
- The SALT, OT, Executive Head, Head, Interventions Lead, Behaviour Lead and CPD Lead gave a presentation to the assessment team on how provision is made for pupils.
- A focus group was carried out with the school council.
- Personal files were sampled as part of every observations with further scrutiny carried out of 5 files from each phase within the school, lower, middle and upper.
- Policy and procedure documents relevant to the provision for autistic pupils were also reviewed in particular: Data reports, staff handbook, CPDL handbook, Behaviour policy.
- The views of families were obtained from questions which were sent out by St Luke’s with 21 questionnaires (46%) being returned.
- 6 autistic pupils were also interviewed as well as 1 family member, although 6 were invited.
SECTION 2: KEY FINDINGS
What the service does particularly well
What stood out as particular strengths:
- The individual behaviour management is a clear strength within the school. Staff are quick to recognise when pupils are becoming heightened and successfully support pupils to ensure they are able to regulate.
- The PSD curriculum that the school have in place is fully embedded into all teaching across the school as well as being taught in explicit lessons. It was seen to allow the pupils learn and practice skills needed throughout life in a safe and supportive environment.
- The relationship that St Luke’s have developed with the local feeder college will enable them to successfully transition pupils over a two year period, accessing courses at college at a level which is appropriate for them with access to college tutors supported by St Luke’s staff.
What else the service does well:
- St Luke’s have recently introduced a social media communication platform which parents are able to access. This allows class teams to post photos of what is happening during the day as well as two way communication via messaging in an app that parents are able to access on their phones.
- St Luke’s offers a range of alternative activities for pupils to participate in at lunchtime in different parts of the school. This includes the use of quiet spaces to have lunch as well as providing activities where they can socialise in a safe way or just be on their own.
- The pupils at St Luke’s are proud of their school and there is a mutual trust and respect between them and the staff team. Pupils were keen to open doors and talk to the assessment team often sharing their achievements within a lesson.
- Brunch was a lovely way to bring groups of pupils together in a shared experience with pupils planning each element of the meal from the initial stages of planning and budgeting a meal to setting the table ready and cooking the food for all the pupils. This activity was seen to be completed with relevant support when needed.
What the service could develop further
Other areas to consider:
- St Luke’s could consider adapting the staff handbook so that it further reflects practice and provision within the school. You could also consider including Platform 9 ¾ as part of this.
- St Luke’s could consider how they personalise approaches and strategies for pupils across the school so that each pupil can get the benefit of approaches and strategies available.
- Although it has been seen that staff at St Luke’s are good at recognising the changes in anxiety and arousal of individuals within the school it was observed that whole classroom management wasn’t always as successful.
- Platform 9 ¾ is a new provision within the school the assessment team support plans to develop this area further to become an intervention hub within the school. Further distinction about how this area is used should form part of this development.
- Although the individual behaviour management within the school is seen as a strength the school could consider how to develop overall classroom management and low level disruptions across the class.
- St Luke’s could consider ways to develop the expressive language of pupil who present as highly anxious or have English as a second language.
- St Luke’s could consider ways in which they can further develop communication with parents by building on the good work they have already started.
SECTION 3: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
- As part of their initial introduction new staff attend various sessions on special educational needs including autism and SCLN. This will be a general awareness of each of the main needs of pupils within the school.
- An additional session will be held at The Collett where staff will be introduced to The Hive, the intervention hub, and have further training on sensory needs and interventions within the federation .
- Staff access regular on-going training from both sites within the federation. There are a total of 16 twilight sessions available from which staff need to choose 8 to attend, this term these include Attention Autism, Intensive Interaction and the psychology of anxiety. In addition to these pedagogy training session are on offer for anyone who wants to attend.
- Teaching assistants have their own training sessions aside from other staff within the school where they get to discuss specific topics in relation to their own practice as support staff. Topics include but are not limited to PECS, SCERTs, EHCPs & understanding results from standardised reading tests to get targets.
- St Luke’s holds weekly staff meetings where there is a further opportunity for training. Included within this terms topics is increasing independence in pupils and curriculum planning and delivery.
- The Speech and Language therapist and Occupational Therapist have both been involved in delivering training to staff including sensory processing and SCERTS.
- As part of the appraisal system staff are encouraged to develop their own practice. Highlighting areas of interest and developing expertise. Each person will have one target as part of the process which is linked to research.
- The structure of the federation staffing is such that there are many key staff members who are available for on-going support when needed. The sensory and intervention leads are both available to support if needed.
In conclusion, Continuous Professional Development ensures that staff have a good working knowledge of methods and approaches which produce positive outcomes for autistic people. There are systems in place to ensure consistency and quality of person centred support.
SECTION 4: PERSON CENTRED SUPPORT
Differences in Social Communication
- The St Luke’s Staff Handbook outlines the way in which staff are expected to communicate with the pupils, as well as the use of visual supports. There is a small paragraph within this on alternative and augmentative communications, although as most pupils within the school are verbal this is not something that is used within the school regularly.
- The section within the staff handbook on social difference identifies the use of role play and social stories to support pupils with the development of these skills.
- St Luke’s don’t use one specific communication approach as the pupils within the school are primarily verbal. There are key people within the federation staff who are responsible for PECS & Makaton training and are a contact for support.
- The speech and language therapist has delivered training in the use of comic strip conversations and social stories.
- There is a significant focus on communication as part of the curriculum not only within English but throughout most lessons.
- Each pupil will be assessed using StAPPS (St Luke’s Assessing Pupil Progress System) against ‘I can’ statements taking evidence from a range of sources. Where appropriate the SALT will carry out their own assessments.
- This information will be shared through SALT reports and information placed into the pupil’s profile. This will include the StAPPS points for communication as well as further detail about communication and interaction difficulties with strategies.
- EHCP Outcomes and next step targets form part of each child’s profile. This will include at least one target on communication or interaction. These targets are reviewed regularly and data collected once a term on the progress that pupils have made in all areas.
- The speech and language therapist is commissioned from the NHS and is in school for two days a week with a therapy assistant for one day. Therapy is primarily carried out in class with conversational groups and Lego therapy.
- A SCERTS pilot has been carried out with training delivered to necessary staff, videos of pupils used for assessment purposes. Goals were then set around the SCERTS framework. This is not an approach that is being used in its entirety but elements being used with key pupils across the school.
- The SALT will participate in meetings and discussions regarding specific/groups of pupil and will provide necessary reports for annual reviews. He will also deliver termly training to whole staff on a range of topics.
- Where best practice was observed pupils were given the opportunity to interact not only with the staff team but also peers within their class and the school.
- In some observations, practice could have been improved by staff giving less verbal directions as part of the whole class teaching considering the needs of each individual within the room.
- In few observations, practice could be improved by staff considering the amount of communication required when pupil was at a heightened state.
- In some observations it was found that autistic people were well supported in their communication. For example one pupil was seen with a smartphone round his neck so he could communicate effectively. This could be developed further by considering how to support pupils who have English as a second language or who are highly anxious.
- In some observations staff were seen to use ambiguous language where this was not understood staff were seen to explain what it meant to support pupils understanding.
Self-reliance and problem solving
- The school prospectus shares the vision which includes a “commitment to providing opportunities to increase independence for every individual.”
- “We believe in developing strengths and interests in order to build self-esteem and independence.”
- The PSD Curriculum documentation states “Pupils are equipped to be more informed, confident and skilled in order to take an active and responsible part in society and enhance learning, motivation, performance and achievement. PSD offers learning opportunities and experiences which reflect the increased independence, physical and social awareness of pupils.”
- Classrooms are organised to enable pupils to be independent within them and pupils were seen to move around them with confidence accessing resources when needed.
- The independent functioning skills of pupils are assessed using StAPPS with specific skills being taught through the PSD curriculum, but also as part of many other lessons throughout the school day.
- This information is shared not only through the one page profiles but also through the StAPPS grids. These grids are shared with parents to discuss the skills that the pupils are displaying at school as well as what they are displaying at home. These grids clearly show where there is a spikey profile, the skills that need to be developed, are developing and the prior learning. In a format that is easy to understand for all.
- Pupils were seen to be on task and fully engaged in learning tasks suggesting that tasks were of an appropriate level of interest and challenge. Pupils were also seen to complete tasks in a format/media/location of their choosing.
- There is a comprehensive transition programme in place both for transition into and out of the school these are very bespoke and clearly thought through. The transition to college will include a two year link programme with elements taught by both college and St Luke’s staff.
- Where best practice was seen in most observations pupils were seen to be encouraged to participate in activities independently being supported by staff when required.
- Where best practice was seen pupils were encouraged to support each other in activity.
- In some observations, practice could have been improved through the use of timers as a definition of duration of activity.
- Where best practice was seen in a few observations pupils were accessing tools independently within the classroom.
- In some observations pupils were seen to be using in task schedules and now and next boards to great effect.
- The St Luke’s Staff Handbook indicates that the school has a Sensory Lead Teacher who will liaise with the Occupational Therapist and parents to discuss support and interventions.
- This document also states that pupils will be observed in their initial days within class reacting to their sensory inputs. Both positive and negative reactions are recorded and a sensory profile completed with information taken from a sensory profile questionnaire sent to the parents. This allows support to be provided both at home and at school.
- A Sensory Integration Suite is being developed within the school and has timetabled use as well as being available for pupils when they need them.
- The staff handbook indicates that the SPELL approach is used within the school.
- Displays are restricted in most classrooms to designated areas and in many classrooms were seen to be meaningful to the pupils.
- Platform 9 ¾ is a dedicated sensory integration suite with a sensory circuit laid out permanently, a climbing wall and calm space is available in another area of the room with OT swings currently on order.
- Sensory needs and approaches are highlighted on a pupil’s profile these are very individual and include recommended sensory activities.
- Some classrooms were seen to have a quiet/calm room/space within them each developed to meet the needs of the pupils within that class.
- The school employs an independent OT who is at school one day a week to supplement the provision provided by County.
- The independent OT has carried out observations and assessments of pupils in all classes of fine motor skills and these have been shared with recommendations for specific and generalised strategies.
- Top priority pupils are being assessed using formal assessments and clinical observation with targeted sessions where necessary. The OT has long term plans to look at how zones of regulation are used within the school and develop the use of this further.
- In all observations it was found that pupils were accessing zones of regulation within the classroom. Where this could have improved pupils would have access to more individualised tools for support.
- In a few observations practice could have been improved by staff having an understanding of the impact of noise levels within the classroom.
- Where best practice was observed sensory support was readily available and pupils were able to access them independently
- In some observation, practice could have improved by staff highlighting to the child the reasons they felt they had changed zones.
- St Luke’s mission statement states that they engender self-esteem and pride with support for ongoing achievement. We enable opportunities for children to feel a high degree of pride. Happiness is a sub heading to their ethos and values.
- The Behaviour Principles Written Statement and Behaviours for Learning Policy states that “the school places a high emphasis on positive behaviour management.” Linking behaviour and social development as the key to access and interaction with the community, continuing development and quality of life.
- This policy states that class teachers should build relationships with parents making either face to face or telephone contact daily or weekly to ensure that they have the family support.
- Awards certificates are presented by the Headteacher during Friday assemblies for attainment or achievement in Bronze to Platinum, these assemblies can be attended by parents.
- St Luke’s use the Hertfordshire Steps approach to behaviour management with clear guidelines within the policy.
- Strengths and interests of pupils are identified through observation, discussion with pupils and the autistic person and shared within the pupil profile.
- The PSD curriculum in all year groups has a strong emphasis on health and well-being as well as relationships which include direct teaching of feelings, empathy and recognising feelings and impact on others.
- There is a section within the pupil profile – social and emotional wellbeing which highlights what a pupil struggles with but also what they can do as well as strategies to support for staff.
- St Luke’s has a robust and comprehensive recording system of behaviour, staff record incidents through SIMS, this data is collated by the Behaviour lead who not only monitors the quality of incidents but also is able to track trends at various levels – pupil, class, year group, gender, and specific needs.
- Where pupils are seen to be involved in multiple incidents a needs assessment can be carried out which allows staff to identify areas where strategies may need to be targeted.
- Key pupils within the school will have behaviour support plans, this can be developed further and some pupils within the school will have anxiety management plans. These are reviewed half termly and are developed on traffic light system of what the anxiety looks like, how the staff should respond and any visual tools to support.
- There is a calm atmosphere throughout the school that helps the pupils feel safe and secure. There is a clear level of mutual trust between the staff and pupils that allows them to make a mistake and know that it is okay.
- There is a new system of rewards this year which are developed by each class teacher awarded for specific items. As this is a new system it still requires some further development and to be embedded across the school.
- Pupils demonstrate pride in their work and their classroom, they show confidence in an around the school.
- In all observations, it was found that pupils presented as relaxed and engaged in rewarding activities, For example as part of one observation pupils were encouraged to use their special interest as part of a non-fiction writing task.
SECTION 5: CONSULTATION AND WORKING
With autistic people
- The views of autistic people were obtained through questionnaire and recorded.
- The school obtain pupil views through the school council and an annual pupil feedback questionnaire.
- An interview was carried out with the school council who reported that the staff were all friendly and helpful but that the main toilets needed improving.
- 41 autistic people provided feedback to the assessment team by returning completed questionnaires. The full results are shown as an appendix to this report
With the families of autistic people
- The school has worked on developing relationships with families. Regular contact is made with families through Dojo, phone calls and emails. Tutorial meetings are held with parents where StAPPS and progress is discussed.
- One parent was interviewed as part of the process who stated how flexible the staff team were in the approach to her son.
- 21 family members provided feedback to the assessment team by returning completed questionnaires. The full results are shown as an appendix to this report. The feedback from parents is mixed, whilst 14 strongly agree or agrees that the support received is good 7 suggested it was poor or okay, but could be better. This was reflected throughout the questionnaire results.
- The comments received were also mixed about the work of the school. For example, one parent writes:
“School communication with parents wasn’t so good previously but seems to be improving.”
“The school requires specific autism specialists.There are a significant amount of children at the school who have autism as a primary or secondary need.Teacher’s/TA’s need more autism training and teaching strategies should be adapted for our children on the spectrum.”
SECTION 6: SUMMARY
There are clear areas for strength with some really strong work happening at St Luke’s. In the last year the school have been on a real journey of development and recognise there is still some work to do moving forward but that this can only enhance the good grounding that they now have. The professional development that the staff receive takes full advantage of being in a federation and therefore staff have regular opportunities for learning which are supported by professional discussions and the appraisal process. Feedback from key stakeholders is primarily good with the recognition of the journey that the school have been on and the improvements they have made. Practice was seen to be consistently informed by a good understanding of the pupils in all areas with assessments kept up to date and shared with parents before and after data capture to get an accurate picture of the pupil’s abilities. Practice within the school was person centred and with pupils taking part in meaningful activities, although there is some scope for improvement practice meets the standards for accreditation. There is clear evidence through the data of the impact that staff are having and the benefits of support for each individual pupil.