At the end of last term pupils across GANF took part in activities for Autism Awareness Week. This is an event introduced by the National Autistic Society (NAS) to raise awareness of Autism (ASD) and also celebrate it. The NAS state on their website that ‘Better understanding of Autism across society, from schools to workplaces and decision makers in local and national government, would transform hundreds of thousands of lives.’
There are around 700,000 people in the UK who have ASD. At Ambergate Sports College 58% of our cohort have ASD as their predominant need, and at Sandon School around 1/3 of pupils have an ASD diagnosis. At each school there is also a high percentage of pupils who have difficulties with their speech and language and communication and interaction.
Sandon School achieved the Autism Accreditation in October 2020, and Ambergate Sports College will be registering for this Accreditation in September 2021, however, work has already begun so that we are prepared for the Accreditation process.
For Autism Awareness Week 2021 pupils spent time thinking about what makes them unique, and exploring differences between ourselves and our peers. Some classes completed an audit of their learning areas to identify things that were good and things that could be improved. The results from this were really interesting as the pupils picked up on things like background noises and different smells that they found distracted them from their learning, things that the adults in the room had not noticed!
Classes also watched a video from the NAS called ‘I’m not naughty, I’m autistic’ (you can find this on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_pyskoO9X4 ) which highlights what it can be like to live with sensory processing difficulties. This led to discussions about things that we don’t like and things that overload us and can lead to meltdowns.
Lewis in Year 7 at Ambergate said, “Having Autism is like hearing and seeing double its strength and this makes it hard for us and stresses us out. School helps because work is a bit easier and school helps us. If I get stressed I can take some time out”. Other pupils said, “Sometimes it is too noisy at school which can make me stressed, but I tell my teacher, and we have sensory toys that help me feel calm again”, and “The visual timetables are useful because I know what is happening. If it changes I can sometimes get a bit confused but my teacher explains the changes to me.”
GANF continually strive to create a positive, safe learning environment for all pupils, and becoming Accredited means that we are working to an outstanding level to ensure development and progress for our pupils.