Education Provision

Acorn Park is an educational and residential site for children and adults who have a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. All the children at Acorn Park have challenges with social communication, social imagination, and some have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. The way that these challenges affect children or adults varies from individual to individual. On our site, we meet the varied needs of our students based on how their autism affects their functionality and typicality.

Our children can often have other clinical presentations that can play a role in how we deliver the curriculum, such as epilepsy, Tourette’s, ADHD, Attachment and Trauma backgrounds and medical needs for example. As such our Education and Residential Care staff would seek advice from our Multi-Disciplinary Team. The MDT would collect input from its members which includes, Nurses, Occupational therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, and other therapists and professionals as required. We do this through an individual “team around the child approach”, called an ITAC, which endeavours to collect the expectations of parents and other stakeholders to work collaboratively with education and residential care to create a bespoke package for the child and deliver on those outcomes in the best interest of the child.

Acorn Park Exam Results 2018-2019

Acorn Park Exam Results 2019-2020

Acorn Park Exam Results 2020-2021

The Curriculum

Acorn Park provides a broad, balanced, relevant and enhanced curriculum that is based on the requirements of the National Curriculum but modified where necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of individual students. To enable creativity and individuality to be promoted and celebrated classes are small and staffing levels are high.

Within the school setting, we have two pathways. The Formal Pathway for students whose ability and attainment is average and above-average follows the National Curriculum from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 4. Students on this pathway are entered for GCSE examinations where this is appropriate. We also offer ASDAN, functional skills, foundation level, employability, work experience and community projects to support all the young people into adult life and progression into further education.

Our Semi-Formal pathway is based on the principles of the EQUALS curriculum which is outlined below. This is a highly personalised curriculum approach for our more complex students or those who may have significant developmental gaps to fill. It is broadly experiential in its nature as research into the way we learn is clear that we learn best by ‘doing’ as we train our bodies and minds to master skills and make sense of experiences. These students will also leave Acorn Park with appropriate qualifications and certifications.

Our school is a community in which all stakeholders work purposefully together to maximise the potential and achievement of our students. We value the contribution that everyone makes to the life of our school and we have high expectations of all of our students. We develop their existing individual talents and interests to the full, whilst developing new skills, enabling them to become more independent in Acorn Park and the wider community.

Sensory Development

Play

Play is a key part of learning for our students and provides an opportunity to build reciprocal play skills such as turn-taking, as well as supporting the development of motor skills and core strength. We are fortunate to have an indoor heated Sports Hall that is used all year round for games, sports and trampolining. We also have a Sensory Barn which students are particularly fond of. This comprises an enclosed large soft play area with interactive sound and music equipment and a large ball pool. Above all, the students enjoy having fun together. Our students have access to an outdoor gym and a range of outdoor play equipment. Our younger students have access to their own garden spaces and The exciting HMS Acorn ship-themed play area.

 

The children that we work with require a curriculum that is aligned to meet their developmental needs. This means that their day to day learning needs to be built around multi-sensory experiences. In addition to a sensory-rich curriculum, many of our classrooms have designated sensory corners, sensory pathways or low-stimulus break-out spaces. We have fully equipped sensory rooms that our young people can access for leisure and relaxation. We are continuing to develop our break-out spaces and resources within the school and residential services.

 

Managing Sensory Sensitivities

It’s common for children on the Autism Spectrum to have sensory sensitivities which can impact their ability to access different settings, their engagement and on their emotional wellbeing. We recognise that children can find different environments stressful or aversive and work in partnership with them to ensure that their classrooms and home are set up in a way that minimises the impact of sensory sensitivities a child may be vulnerable to.