George Tancred Centre (St James’s Catholic Primary School)

Headteacher : Mrs V Heffernan

Teacher in Charge: Mrs L Ives

Designation: Autistic spectrum conditions

Age range: 4 to 11

Aims and purpose of the unit

The centre at St James’s provides an environment where pupils who have an autistic spectrum disorder are taught a curriculum appropriate to their needs, including the national curriculum, and are supported in all areas of their learning. This is achieved by a curriculum that creates maximum opportunities for pupils to develop and practise key skills for learning, such as listening, attention, thinking skills and social communication skills including eye contact and turn taking.

Emphasis is placed on learning language with meaning and most importantly for the purposes of communication. Provision is made for regular opportunities for pupils to participate within mainstream activities and classes to enhance their learning and to develop their social interaction. As part of a structured and predictable daily routine, the centre provides a multi-sensory curriculum and teaching and learning strategies to support sensory needs, communication and interaction skills. Each pupil has an individual inclusion package appropriate to their learning needs in order to participate within mainstream sessions.

Provision, staffing and facilities

The centre caters for pupils from the foundation stage through to key stage 2 (4 to 11 years). There is provision for up to10 pupils.

The centre is purpose-built and consists of three teaching rooms, an office, two accessible toilets, a therapy or sensory room and an outdoor play area.

Pupils work at workstations. Two classrooms have interactive whiteboards. Pupils attend weekly swimming sessions. The centre uses all the facilities and buildings of the mainstream school.

The centre has a full-time teacher in charge, a full-time teacher, two full-time and a part-time learning support assistant and an administrative support assistant.  The speech and language therapist is based at the centre for 2.5 days a week and the occupational therapist for 0.5 days a week. All professionals work in collaboration and form part of the team.

Entry criteria

All pupils attending the centre have a statement of special educational need with ASD as the main presenting need. They may have associated language, behavioural and sensory difficulties. Pupils are admitted to the centre through the SEN panel arrangements.

Identifying and reviewing needs

Each pupil has an individual education plan (IEP). The team allocate time each week to observe, evaluate and assess the progress of individual pupils. Progress is recorded and assists planning. Observations are used in the development of the pupil’s IEP and annual review targets.

Each IEP is reviewed termly and new targets are devised. Learning and behaviour targets are discussed in consultation with parents and the pupil. Targets within the IEP usually relate to the triad of impairment (social impairment, social imagination, communication) and include speech and language and occupational therapy targets. The IEP details specific strategies, the timescale for the target to be achieved and how success in achieving the target will be measured. Pupil’s statements are reviewed annually when they may be amended to meet the changing needs of the pupil. The annual review involves teachers, the headteacher, parents, educational psychologist, speech and language and occupational therapists.

The following records of pupil progress are an integral part of the observation and assessment work of the centre:  

  • assessment using performance scales and national curriculum levels;
  • a weekly evaluation of each pupil’s progress;
  • specific profiles and checklists relating to ASD;
  • reviewed IEPs and record of attainments;
  • books of experience; and
  • diagnostic assessment such as reading, spelling and comprehension ages.

Access to broad and balanced curriculum

Pupils follow a curriculum appropriate to their individual learning needs including the early years and foundation state and National Curriculum at suitably differentiated levels. To help pupils make progress in all curriculum areas the National Curriculum inclusion statement will be applied. This will make sure that inclusive strategies are used to secure curriculum access through:

  • setting suitable learning challenges;
  • responding to pupil’s diverse learning needs; and
  • overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment.

We follow appropriate aspects of the religious education curriculum, ‘Here I am’, used in the mainstream school. Parents can withdraw their child from religious education if they wish.

Where appropriate, pupils will begin inclusion into a mainstream class after a term at the centre. An individual inclusion package will be negotiated for each pupil beginning with the curriculum subjects that are strengths or interests, to promote success and self-esteem.

Staff use a combination of different teaching approaches for ASD. These include TEACCH, PECS, sensory regulation and a multi-sensory curriculum. The learning environment is structured to minimise visual and auditory distractions and focus attention to tasks.

Home-school links

We work in partnership with parents offering advice and support. This is achieved in a variety of ways, through meetings, e-mail or telephone calls, at termly IEP meetings or parents meetings. Parents may attend ‘coffee and curriculum’ meetings to find out about the curriculum and specific teaching and learning strategies. All parents are automatically members of the PFA. Parents are welcome to make an appointment with the teachers to discuss their child at any time. A home and school communication book is used for weekly feedback to report on progress.  Parents receive weekly curriculum information and regular newsletters.

Links beyond the school

We work in partnership with other professionals involved with the development of the pupil including: occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, physiotherapists.

The centre has received support from Woolworths Playground Partnerships Project, National Autistic Society, The Bridge and Linden Bridge School for pupils with ASD and maintains links with other units in the borough and special schools.

Links with mainstream classes

Some pupils at the centre are included with mainstream classes, to experience a sense of community and belonging. It is important for pupils to broaden their experiences and participate within larger groups and school. Group outings to the local area or joining a mainstream class visit may take place. We invite pupils from the mainstream classes to attend for daily playtime sessions in the centre. This provides good communication models for our pupils. The mainstream pupils can begin to know and understand the George Tancred Centre pupils. Working together strengthens communication skills for all pupils.

Transition to the next state of education

We are committed towards the fullest inclusion we can for each pupil. A great deal of thought and consultation goes into any joint decision with school, parents and pupil.

George Tancred Centre pupils will begin inclusion into a mainstream class after a term at the centre if it is appropriate. It is important that time is allowed for pupils to feel secure and confident within the centre before inclusion in a mainstream classroom is attempted.

Pupils are prepared for transfer to secondary school and other placements gradually with the use of transition books and visits to the new placement. Staff from the school will visit the pupil at the centre. Transition arrangements are agreed with all professionals involved through annual review and transition meetings.

Contact the George Tancred Centre

Stanley Road,

Telephone: 020 8898 4670
Fax: 020 8893 3038

Updated: 1 February 2011