Autism Accreditation

Autism Accreditation

At Willow Dene we provide specialised support to all our pupils, through a personalised and differentiated curriculum that promotes independence at its very core.

We support a growing population of pupils with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within nineteen of our classrooms.  To validate and certify the specialised provision we offer our pupils with an ASD diagnosis, we decided to undertake the National Autistic Society’s Accreditation process.

Autism Accreditation provides an Autism specific assurance programme for over 300 organisations through-out the UK and across the globe; clients include Local Authorities, NHS Trusts, Education Authorities, local Autism societies and private companies.

What does the Assessment involve?

Assessments are bespoke dependent on the nature and scope of the provision but will normally involve observation of practice and review of individual support plans to identify how well autistic individuals are supported in relationship to social communication; self-reliance and problem solving; sensory experiences and well-being. Key staff are interviewed about the approaches employed to support Autistic individuals and the training and professional development they receive in carrying out these approaches. Autistic people and/or a person representing their best interests (as appropriate) will take part in a confidential online survey. At the end of the Assessment, immediate verbal feedback will be given about what the school does well in relationship to supporting Autistic pupils and what it could improve. This is followed by a summative written report.

What happens after the Assessment?

One month after an Assessment the Accreditation Awards Committee will announce if it is able to give an award in recognition of how well the provision supports Autistic people. It will state what level this award is given as aspiring, accredited or advanced.

Our first review was undertaken in November 2014 and our second in December 2017 both of which were undertaken over three days in which the review team observed ASD practice across the school, evaluated evidence and spoke to staff. Questionnaires were also sent out to parents to ascertain how they felt their child’s needs were being met. 

In January 2018 we were awarded for the second time with Accredited.


The following areas were highlighted as strengths for the school  

Education Standard E10: each autistic student enabled to understand, self-regulate and manage sensory experiences

Both primary and secondary schools make full use of opportunities to maximise sensory engagement.

Education standard C23: staff actively work in partnership with other professionals, who support each autistic student, to deliver a consistent and unified approach

The school has a strong multi-disciplinary team which includes health professionals and specialists in speech and language, sensory integration and music.

Education standard C30: families are fully consulted and treated as partners in the support of their family member, according to the age, capacity and wishes of the autistic student

Parents feel well supported in relation to    their child’s individual educational needs.

Education Standard E16: staff enable each autistic student to experience a sense of achievement and satisfaction

The school embraces learning technology for the wide range of benefits it can deliver to pupil

The panel also highlighted the following areas that Willow Dene should be particularly proud of

‘Willow Dene’s provision for its Autistic pupils is comprehensive and underpinned by a particularly effective and well-delivered approach to sensory issues. The school makes good use of its multi-disciplinary team to ensure individual needs are identified and met, and the review team feels this contributes to the parents’ reported confidence that the school is doing a good job of supporting their children’s educational needs.’

The following comments are from the parental questionnaires sent out prior to the review in 2017

The daily information on the home-school contact book is amazing. 

I don't know how we would cope without the support we get from school. 

 The school has given the opportunity to access the services available for my child, for example incontinence clinic and respite. 

 I’ve always been able to contact the school and they always keep me updated. 

The school has taken my concerns seriously and are working with me to provide the right interventions for my child. On days I do not receive feedback in the home-school book I am disappointed as my child is non-verbal. Consistent feedback is essential. 

 All mainstream schools could learn a lot from Willow Dean. 

My son seems very happy at school and gets on the bus with a big smile. He is making progress and seems to learn or accomplish something new every day.