Options Higford is a DfE registered school, offering day and residential placements and has achieved Autism Accreditation with the National Autistic Society (NAS) consistently since 2012. We use the principles of the NAS SPELL approach in order to maximise access to the whole curriculum as well as being trauma and mental health informed.
- Structure: including how we organise the environment, the use of personal schedules and systematic strategies to work. Therefore creating a highly structured and predictable environment.
- Positive: approaches and expectations through sensitive but persistent intervention based upon thorough individual assessment, including Intensive Interaction and play-based approaches. Supporting children to develop the capacity for self- regulation; a ‘no matter what’ approach.
- Empathy: based upon respect for personal experience to inform what motivates and what may worry or preoccupy each individual. Relationships, connection and belonging are central to our school ethos; one size does not fit all and we are adaptive to the needs and requirements of each child.
- Low arousal: based upon individual sensory profiles and the use of PRICE for the positive management of potentially challenging behaviour. Creating an environment of psychological and physical safety is fundamental; behaviour is viewed as communication and with curiosity.
- Links: through a thematic approach to the curriculum and a multi-disciplinary team-work approach across the service, working together with the young person and their families / significant others. A whole school ethos that has a common language, consistency and understanding, based upon neuro-science.
All students are taught individually and within small groups (maximum class size of 5) with a high staffing ratio of at least 1-1. All students follow an adaptive and flexible curriculum, incorporating the EQUALS semi-formal curriculum and ASDAN units of work, working towards appropriate qualifications for all students at KS4 – 5 and building upon sets of core skills to maximise independence after school, through a broad and creative thematic approach.
Students’ needs are met through a range of approaches including Intensive Interaction, play, a total communication approach and sensory diets. We also use mental health/ trauma informed approaches throughout. Students also have access to a wide range of specialist facilities onsite, including a ‘Sensory Hub’ which incorporates a water-play room, sensory room, gym and soft-play room. We also have a Horticulture and a Music pod, a basket-ball court and small sports hall, outdoor-play equipment including a fitness circuit, a sunken trampoline, swings and two Forest School sites – set within our extensive grounds. In addition, we access offsite community facilities such as swimming-pools, Ironbridge Gorge Museums, National Trust sites, and a Community Care Farm.
Our embedded on-site specialist clinical team includes psychology, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy in order to support meeting each young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan. We aim to ensure the development of young people who are: happy and confident with a positive self-esteem, able to learn independently and cooperatively, independent and sociable, able to communicate their feelings, wishes and needs, and are able to make choices, manage their own behaviour and enjoy life.