Autism Lead Project
Author: Vanessa Oldham, Leader of Outreach and Inclusion, Freemantles School
Welcome to the Autism Lead Project with the Woking School Learning Partnership and Freemantles School.
Freemantles is a Surrey County Council School for children and young people with Autism. The school age range is from 4 – 19 years and, as one of only two Autism-specific schools in the county, we have a wide catchment area across the west of Surrey. The school has 127 pupils on roll. We have an outreach team, who support pupils in primary age settings across the western side of Surrey and deliver a range of training to both parents and professionals. More information can be found on our website: www.freeoutreach.org.uk
This year, Freemantles School are working with the Woking School Learning Partnership to deliver a training program in order to develop Autism leads in each school. This came about due to a recognition from running the Outreach service that the numbers of pupils with autism in mainstream schools, and therefore the Outreach caseload, is increasing. We have also seen that a large number of these pupils have more complex autism than those supported in mainstream in the past. We will hear from various speakers throughout the project, but the main leads will be Justin Price (Headteacher) and Vanessa Oldham (Leader of Outreach).
The program aims to influence good autism practice across the schools settings, at all levels. We intend:
- to give one member of the school staff an enhanced understanding of the needs of children with autism and strategies that can be used to support them, so these can be shared across the school
- to learn about the most recent developments in good autism practice particularly in relation to social understanding
- to ensure that a member of the senior leader understands the role of the leadership team in whole school development of autism practice
- to develop a support network of autism leads in the local community who are able to support one another into the next phase of development
- to empower staff to be able to support within their schools and resolve some issues internally, reducing the waiting times for Outreach visit
During the project we will be evaluating the impact of the training, so that if it is successful it can be developed for future cohorts.
For the first few sessions we are going to work through the three levels of training developed by the Autism Education Trust (AET). The AET is dedicated to coordinating, supporting and promoting effective education practice for all children and young people on the autism spectrum. For more information, visit their website: www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk.