Children & Young People Opinion

Meeting the needs of learners with autism

Kelly Price, Head of Education at Ty Coryton

Why multi-disciplinary working is pivotal to providing all-round autism care – and what successful delivery means in practice

Successful outcomes are reliant on the effective implementation of a multi-disciplinary approach when it comes to delivering comprehensive care packages across the board. It’s no secret that meeting the needs of society’s most vulnerable depends on the efforts of professionals and the community around them in equal measure.

This could not be truer when it comes to autism education and care. Services operating within this specialism are heavily focused on creating a sense of community not only when it comes to engaging with the wider world, but within their own four walls too.

Ty Coryton in Cardiff is a specialist school with 23 pupils with complex needs associated with autism. The school operates alongside a children’s residential service on the same site, and both are part of Orbis Education and Care. A recent Estyn (Wales’ schools inspectorate) report found that multi-disciplinary working is a significant strength of the school, which is ‘highly effective in meeting the needs of pupils’.

Kelly Price, Head of Education at Ty Coryton, was also commended for promoting stability within the school as a leader passionate for staff to develop their skills. Here, Kelly explains why the successful delivery of multi-disciplinary working practices on the ground are so important in meeting the needs of learners with autism.

Like many care environments, effective schooling for the children within our care relies not only on our fantastic education staff but also on the commitment of a wider range of specialists.

Meeting the individual learning needs of 23 separate pupils involves support not just from those working within the education team itself, but also across care and therapeutic teams, administrative and maintenance colleagues, and other areas of service provision.

This in mind, staff are encouraged to share ideas, knowledge and experience with each other at every opportunity to promote close working relationships. No one person can meet the complex needs of our pupils on their own, and this can also apply to parents.

Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy are integrated into our school day, as is Positive Behaviour Support and further targeted interventions tailored to each individual learner, focusing on such things as social or motor skills for example.

Wider training and drop-in clinics also enable the sharing of whatever advice, knowledge, skills and strategies are required by all parties in order to work jointly and consistently for the benefit of the pupil.

This approach extends to person-centred planning meetings, which have recently replaced annual review meetings. Such initiatives help ensure a broad range of tailored activities remain in place for each child, making their placement meaningful and engaging.

In essence, collaboration between teaching staff, parents and other professionals ensures that practices are holistic, tailored and integrated, and this places the pupil at the centre of everything we do. This is an absolutely vital part of every placement.

In management terms, this is reliant on creating a working environment in which staff respect each other and feel secure enough to collaborate effectively. Staff are deployed within the school depending on their strengths and we are quick to identify leadership and development opportunities for them.

Our middle managers act as lead teachers and our ongoing coaching and mentoring programme is underpinned by regular training opportunities for all colleagues.

This is because staff who are motivated to progress themselves are equally more likely to be motivated to progress their pupils. Our staff may be teachers, therapists and carers in the first instance but they are role models for our children above all else.

Making staff feel valued and secure results in stronger working relationships, collaboration and creativity and ultimately the best possible outcomes for the pupils we are all here to support.

 

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