We teach a broad curriculum at Holbrook, intended to meet the needs of individuals with autism as successfully as possible.
Our lower school department consists of 8 classes, each of 7 or 8 pupils, from Reception to the end of Key Stage 2. Due to our small class sizes, each class contains pupils from more than one age group (see Classes).
As a school we aim to provide a curriculum that prepares children with autism for life after school. For lower school students this means a balance of National Curriculum subjects e.g. early reading and maths, and life skills such as play, social skills and accessing the community. The learning for individual students is based on the their individual needs and abilities. In addition, students will have access to support from occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.
Where relevant, students follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.
Our middle school department consists of 5 classes with 6 to 8 students, ranging from the end of Key Stage 2 to year 9.
This department provides a transition between Lower School, our primary department, and Upper School, where students are aged 14-19 and follow a curriculum based around a mixture of literacy and numeracy, functional life skills, and vocational skills based around work experience. In Middle School students learn a combination of National Curriculum subjects, particularly literacy and numeracy, and life skills e.g. social skills and early vocational skills. The learning will be appropriate for the age of the students, as they move into young adulthood, and their individual learning needs.
In addition, students will have access support from occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.
Most of our 14-19 year old pupils are taught at our new, purpose-built site in Belper. However, a small group of these students are based at the main school.
From the age of 16, pupils follow a curriculum based around functional literacy and numeracy skills e.g. reading timetables, functional life skills e.g. recognising signs, and vocational skills (including work experience). Learning is aimed at the needs and ability of each individual, with the intention of providing students with the best possible preparation for life after school. Students gain accreditation e.g. ASDAN, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, where appropriate.
We have links with providers of education post 19 and students often go on from Holbrook to other settings e.g. T2 in Derby.
At Holbrook we have established a partnership with Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS) to commission an enhanced level of additional speech and language therapy (SLT) for our students.
We also, provide a similarly enhanced level of occupational therapy from OTs based in the health service and the independent Children’s Choice Therapy Service.
All post 16 students at Holbrook have regular opportunities for work experience. We make sure that this is suited to the individual needs, interests and abilities or our students and can take place within school or out in the wider community.
We are very grateful to our friends in the community who provide opportunities for our students – these include the Co-op and Jaxx”s Snooker club in Belper, and Rollersnakes in Derby. As examples, students may be doing gardening work, working in a shop or stock taking. Within Holbrook students may be working on recycling, or helping the office. We believe that our students enjoy and value the jobs that they do.
In September 2014, we opened a new provision for primary aged pupils with average ability and autism.
A significant number of pupils with autism struggle to cope with the complex social demands placed upon them in mainstream primary schools. Special schools can rarely provide an alternative as places in these schools are mainly for children and young people with significant learning diffculties. This means that it can be very difficult to find appropriate school places for pupils with autism and average ability, within the maintained sector.
Therefore, as a result of discussions with Derbyshire LA, the governing body at Holbrook agreed to open this exciting new provision, in order to try and meet the needs of as many children with autism as possible.
We have a residential provision at Holbrook for school pupils to continue their education into the evening and overnight with respect to personal and daily living skills.
Each pupil on residential stays one night per week during term time. The provision has 28 available places. This means that each pupil’s entitlement is regularly reviewed so that as many pupils as possible can benefit from residential during their time at Holbrook.
The new provision is situated in the main school. It is supported by two teacher and a team of teaching assistants. For most of the time, the pupils in the primary provision will be taught separately from the rest of the pupils in the school as they have different learning needs. However, they may join in activities with other school pupils, as appropriate. In addition, as with all others in the school, pupils from the provision will have full access to the school’s faciliities such as the sports hall, outdoor areas, residential provision and opportunities for community access.
We provide an outreach service to mainstream schools via the local authority. If you work in a school and would value advice then please contact the school for further details.
More generally, we are always willing to help with queries on autism and education for autistic students. Again, if you have a question please contact the school office and we shall see what we can do.