All children and young people at Endeavour Academy have a diagnosis of an autism and moderate or severe learning disabilities. Everything we do in our Academy takes account of these needs. All staff members are trained in autism and understand why young people behave in the way that they do.
Additionally, all teams take note of how each young person individually responds to their autism so that we can take a personalised approach that leads to the highest possible learning outcomes for each of our students.
We know that each of our young people feel a great deal of stress. We recognise that in order for them to learn we need to bring them to a calm-alert state. We are led in this area of work by our Occupational Therapist and Occupational Therapy Assistant, who train and support the whole staff in Sensory Integration Approaches.
Our curriculum has four areas:
- Social skills
- Knowledge, Skills and Understanding
This allows us to support our students in their learning in the most appropriate, personalised and beneficial way.
Our curriculum is designed to support the communication needs of our children and young people by:
- Working with our Speech Language Therapists to find ways in which they can communicate by using activities which motivate them
- Encouraging and developing all verbal communication
- Involving our young people in social situations, to encourage them to communicate with others.
- Encouraging and responding to all communication immediately, whether verbal or non-verbal, and always supporting with language
- Understanding that our young people might not understand subliminal communication such as body language, facial expression and gesture, and ensure that they can understand what we are saying to them
- Helping our young people to generalise between contexts
We support our children and young people by:
- Respecting their differences and always treating them with dignity and showing them how much we enjoy their company.
- Helping them to manage their own behaviours, some of which can be a barrier to their learning. We work slowly and carefully, recognising that our young people will have adopted these behaviours as a way of coping with a stressful and sometimes frightening world. We understand that we can only reduce this coping mechanism with caution, and always teach alongside it another, more acceptable coping mechanism.
- Using each young person’s motivations to entice them into the curriculum.
- Sensory Integration Activities are at the very heart of our work. Our young people are likely to be hyper or hypo reactive to sensory input (e.g. apparent indifference to pain/heat/cold, or unusually adverse responses to specific sounds or textures) or have unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g. excessive smelling or touching of objects, fascination with lights or spinning objects).
- Our Occupational Therapist and Occupational Therapy Assistant assess our young people’s sensory needs and create a sensory diet for them. Staff members are supported to deliver this throughout each day.
To enable the best outcome for each of our young people we:
- Teach new skills in isolation, where there are no distractions.
- Skills are generalised in different areas of the academy and, where appropriate, in the local area.
- Young people learn in different settings individually with an adult, with a small group of children, with the whole class, and in bigger social settings, such as playtimes, lunchtimes, clubs, assemblies etc.
- Break all new skills into small steps so that they are achievable and manageable.
- Use backward chaining by beginning with the last step and working backwards.
- Use motivating equipment, including ICT, to entice the young person into an activity which rehearses and practices the new skill and makes it appealing to their interests.
- Assess all small steps of progress, as key learning points for young people's development.
Children and young people's experiences in the classroom are improved by taking part in a range of enrichment activities. We provide valuable opportunities for learning through enjoyment with the introduction of a range of educational visits and expeditions organised throughout the school year. These are managed by staff members as well as members of the local community and national organisations.
Weekly activities include: yoga sessions, reflexology, art sessions, music sessions, trips to local farms, cafe's, parks, shopping centres, swimming pools, libraries, horse riding stables and many more. Our students benefit enormously from these valuable opportunities as they learn through enjoyment while gaining independence. The opportunity to use evidence of young people's progress towards their ASDAN, AQA scheme units, Arts Award and Duke of Edinburgh accreditation programmes will also be utilised at this point.