What do we do?
Russet House is an outstanding special school for nursery and primary aged pupils with autism. It is a maintained school funded by the London Borough of Enfield. Since 2005 it has been expanded twice to meet the increasing number of pupils with autism in Enfield and in September 2014 we will be opening two new temporary classrooms on the adjoining site of Carterhatch Infants and Junior Schools to create places for 112 pupils. Governors have agreed to this temporary expansion whilst a permanent solution to the rise in numbers is agreed with the Local Authority. The two new classes are for nursery and reception aged pupils.
Russet House has been designed specifically to meet the needs of pupils with autism. It provides a low arousal and safe environment where pupils can be taught to manage their own learning, behaviour and stress levels. Throughout the school there is pastel paintwork, soft lighting operated by fish keys or lighting fobs, acoustically treated rooms to dampen sound and distraction free rooms which can be used to minimise distraction for learning and create a safe space where children can calm if they are distressed.
Our facilities and resources are excellent and there are many specialist spaces throughout the school which motivate and stimulate learning. These include;
- A purpose built Sensory Integration Room
- An interactive I Space driven by the latest technology
- A sound proofed room for music therapy
- A new ICT Suite with PCs, touch screens and interactive white board
- Food Technology Room
- Sensory Room
- Well stocked Library
- Brand new Action Space on two levels
- Two large Halls for PE, Gym, Dance, Assemblies and Concerts. One of these is used for dining at lunchtime.
- Two well- equipped and spacious outdoor play areas
- Environmental courtyard
What Pupils Are Taught
At Russet House we focus on teaching pupils how to communicate effectively, interact with others, be independent and safe, behave appropriately in social situations as well as learn academically. All lessons are based on either the Early Years Foundation Stage [for nursery and reception aged pupils] and the National Curriculum for all primary aged pupils.
Within lessons teachers always plan to meet the needs of each individual pupil by differentiating the curriculum thereby ensuring that all members of the class make progress.
Please see the school’s Curriculum Policy and diagram on the school’s website for further information.
How Pupils Are Taught.
We have 16 classes and each class usually has seven pupils. In each class there is a teacher and two members of the classroom support team. Each pupil benefits from small group and individual teaching. Very occasionally if a pupil is unable to learn in a small group setting, individual adult support may be provided so that an individual timetable can be followed. This however is only provided in exceptional circumstances.
Throughout the school there are clear routines and all staff share similar expectations of pupils. This provides consistency and security for pupils and helps them to learn effectively. Visual information in the form of objects, photographs, symbols, signs and the written word are used to support language and communication. Pupils are provided with concrete learning experiences so that they can apply what they have learned in class to real life experiences. For example when learning about money they will then go to the local shop to use it to buy a preferred item.
All members of staff are trained in TEACCH, Makaton, The Picture Exchange Communication System and APPROACH. Although teachers often use applied behaviour analysis in their teaching, Russet House is not an ABA school and is therefore not suitable for children following a strict ABA programme. Our belief is that children with social communication difficulties should be taught within a small group setting where social communication can be practised at every available opportunity.
In order to maximise progress therapists work alongside classroom staff and therapeutic programmes are incorporated in to the daily timetable so that recommended strategies and activities can be practised throughout the day. In addition some pupils may work individually with therapists.
All pupils have an Individual Education Plan focusing on Communication and Personal, Social, Health and Emotional needs. They also have a Behaviour Support Plan which outlines recommended approaches and strategies designed to help your child manage their behaviour appropriately both at school and home. Your involvement in the design and content of these plans is crucial for success and so staff will work collaboratively with you.
All pupils at Russet House are provided with a wide range of learning opportunities both in and out of school at different stages of their primary education. These include;
- Trips to shops, parks, other schools and museums in the local community
- Visits to the theatre and cinema
- Horse riding
- Tennis at David Lloyd Centre
- Outdoor Activity Centres
At Russet House therapists and classroom staff work collaboratively to ensure that each child gets the very best education and support throughout the day every day of the week. Therapists may work directly with individual children, lead classroom activities or devise specialist programmes for classroom staff to follow with individual pupils on a daily basis. Therapists will also deliver training sessions for parents and carers and arrange to talk individually about your child’s needs and programmes.
Therapists working at Russet House include;
- Speech and Language therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Music Therapist
In addition to the above the Health Trust provides support from;
- The Community Consultant Paediatric Team
- The School Nursing Service
- School Dental Service
- Child and Adult Mental Health Services [CAMHS]
Teachers monitor pupil progress throughout the year in relation to individual targets set for each pupil outlined on their Individual Education and Behaviour Support Plans. Teachers also record what each child achieves in each lesson at the end of each day. This information is summarised in your child’s Annual Reports as well as in their individual assessment files.
Teachers track progress in all curriculum areas by using an electronic recording system called B Squared. A summary of this information is given to you at each Annual Review meeting.
Each pupil also has a Record of Achievement which is a photographic record of your child’s progress and achievements at Russet House. This is shared with you at the end of each school year and is given to you when your child leaves Russet House.
Parents and carers are invited and encouraged to be involved in all aspects of their child’s learning. Class teachers send home newsletters at the beginning of each half term outlining topics to be taught and if we do not see you regularly because your child travels on school transport, contact will be kept via a home school book.
We have an Open Evening once a term and once a year you will be invited to attend your child’s Annual Review Meeting to discuss progress and agree their Individual Education and Behaviour Support Plans.
We have Parent Support Advisers and a Home – School Liaison teacher who are available to answer questions, advise and support you throughout the year. They also organise Parent Workshops and will help you carry out recommended programmes at home.
We have a dedicated Parents’ Room where you can meet other parents/carers informally or on Coffee Mornings and where you will find information about the school and autism in general.
Most children with autism find it very difficult to cope with change and so we plan any changes to routines very carefully. At the end of each school year when your child will change class we prepare a transition book with photographs so that you can talk to your child about their new classroom, teachers and friends. Similarly when your child approaches secondary school age we will arrange for your child to visit their new school to familiarise themselves with the new setting. We will also make a secondary school transition book for use during the summer break.
Staff at Russet House are here to work with and support you and so please do not hesitate to ask for help and advice when needed.