Whole School Planning
Pupils with autism are everyone’s concern. Whilst it is important to focus on individual needs and classroom practice, a whole school ethos and approach is needed to support the meaningful inclusion of pupils on the autism spectrum and sustain a culture of inclusiveness. The Centre for Inclusive Education suggests that “Inclusion happens when everyone feels appreciated and welcome to participate”. In essence this sounds quite straightforward. The challenge for staff, pupils and parents is to ensure that such a culture permeates at all levels and in all activities and settings throughout the school.
The principles of Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC put the child at the centre of all planning. Central to supporting pupils with autism would be:
- Planning to support emotional and social wellbeing
- Knowledgeable staff who can provide a flexible approach, reflect on their own teaching styles and adapt to their knowledge of the pupil.
- Consistency from all staff, developing trust and reducing anxieties.
It is important that schools recognise that any adjustments made to support pupils with autism will potentially benefit all pupils.
Some areas schools may need to focus on to ensure that approaches are indicative of inclusive education for pupils on the autism spectrum would include:
- Whole staff awareness and ongoing CPD
- A key person with knowledge of autism, who pupils, staff and parents can approach for advice and information
- Accurate profiling which identifies strengths as well as barriers to learning
- Appropriate assessment and reporting procedures
- Views of pupils and families incorporated in planning
- Forward planning for transitions – across the school and at times of personal changes
- Awareness of the impact of sensory environment in social areas
- Coordinated communication regarding pupils
- Links with other agencies
- Reviewing ethos, policies and practices