Positive behaviour and rewards
We believe that positive behaviour is important for effective learning. At THSL we emphasise teaching students how to manage their own behaviour. We apply a variety of strategies, and always teach in a context of positive behaviour management. We ensure that the environment is safe and that it supports our students’ individual needs.
We use reward systems to keep children motivated and to help them take responsibility for and ownership of their own learning. In all cases we ensure rewards are individual and meaningful, and are matched to a student’s interests thereby supplying the motivation for achievement.
Students have been instrumental in designing our school rules and core values, which recognise positive attitudes and attributes. All students are supported, encouraged and expected to follow them at all times. Our staff model positive behaviours; the school rules and core values are on display at all times for reference and reinforcement.
We praise positive behaviours, attitudes and efforts. This helps students gain awareness of the value of making a positive contribution to their school and community. A student’s achievement is recognised through self-reflection and peer assessment exercises, as well as with school certificates and awards. In addition, those that achieve ‘gold behaviours’ (from a list devised in conjunction with students) receive raffle tickets which they take to the Head Teacher. Golden moments and golden days can lead to gold tickets which students use to gain their personalised rewards.
Our approach and philosophy are reflected in our behaviour policy, which is applied consistently by all school staff and visiting professionals. All students have individual behaviour support plans (BSPs) which ensure consistency of practice and response.
Sanctions and consequences
The school does enforce sanctions and consequences to students who are unable to follow the school rules or make the right choices. These are often based on the theory of restorative justice and might include writing letters of apology, clearing up mess they have made, or replacing (or contributing towards the replacement of) damaged equipment. As a general rule, where a behaviour could lead to prosecution outside of the school (e.g. anti-social behaviour or physical violence), we try to reinforce this within school. As students at Holmewood are high functioning they are likely to have jobs, families and contribute fully in society as adults. However, due to their autism they struggle understand social interaction and social communication so it is important that sanctions and consequences link to ‘life beyond school’ and are as realistic as possible. Wherever possible we try avoid students missing out on positive things they are due to do as this can further impact on self-esteem and confidence issues that many students may already have.
As a final measure, in the most extreme cases a fixed term exclusion or termination of placement may be enforced. This is likely to be where the behaviours of a student are impacting on the education, physical or mental well being of others.
All sanctions are agreed by a member of the SLT and logged.
Years 2-11 of The Holmewood School are set in an attractive converted Victorian house, onto which additional classrooms and a hall were added much more recently. Being a small school, there is a pervading sense of familiarity and security our staff and students are part of a close community.
We have a safe entry and exit to the building, which is protected by fob and code systems. All staff and visitors are required to have ID.
Sixth Form students are educated at our site on East End Road, two tube stops away in Finchley Central. This building is set within a Jewish community secured by a high wall with a large security team at the front. Anyone coming onto the site must be registered in advance and must proceed through the site’s security system. All staff and visitors will be provided with ID.
The internal school environment of both buildings has been tailored to meet the needs of our students and to minimise distraction and misunderstanding. Low levels of environmental arousal are enhanced by Internet hard wiring, non-flicker lighting, acoustic noise reduction and soft colours. Where appropriate, there are visual cues and timetables to support understanding and organisational skills.
We have a small teaching kitchen on both sites where students can learn to cook, and thereby develop a valuable life skill.
Students have free access to a calm spaces, where they are able to sit quietly and reflect if they need some time away from the class. At the Sixth Form centre this includes access to private woods where students can go to without support if appropriate.
At break times students can use the playground or hall filled with fun activities and games in the main building at Woodside Park. At the Sixth Form Centre, students have their own Common Room area to socialise in as well as extensive grounds to explore. In the main, break times are a learning experience and support the development of social skills and social rules as well as encouraging a wider range of leisure interests and skills.
Partnership working is the essence of the way we operate at THSL. Our approach ensures that all staff, multidisciplinary teams, families and students work together to achieve the best outcomes. Our aim is to ensure that families and students understand what is happening at school and beyond.
We conduct regular school-based multidisciplinary meetings, staff meetings, planning meetings and training to ensure our staff are working together in the optimum way. Families have opportunities to meet with staff and professionals at times that are mutually convenient, to discuss their child’s progress or any concerns they may have.
Families are included at every stage of the planning and target-setting process. We hold termly Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings as well as an annual review meeting. This includes all the relevant teams, including outside professionals.
In addition, parents receive weekly behaviour reports and termly progress reports. These are presented in a clear colour coded way to ensure transparency.
Where necessary staff also conduct home visits. For some young people it is important that we do this before entry to the school (to put a transition plan in place). Teachers complete a student profile and gather information from families prior to a new student starting at THSL. Additional home visits for existing students and their families may also take place. These are commonly organised and attended by our Head of Welfare and Behaviour who is the main link for families and staff. From time to time, other members of staff, including our therapists may want to visit a family at home to support the implementation of strategies and to support continuity.
Families are expected to keep the school informed of relevant information that may impact on the teaching and learning of their child. We encourage this information sharing as part of our strong belief that a two-way flow of communication ensures a child gets the best from his or her time at THSL.
Each term, the school holds a Parent Partnership meeting. This is organised by the Head Teacher, Head of Welfare and Behaviour and our Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist. Although there is a core group of parents that attend these meetings, we like as many people to come along as possible as discussions can lead to changes across the school.
Our commitment to partnership working is consolidated by the home–school agreement. It is signed by the Head Teacher, families and students as a sign of their joint commitment.
At Holmewood, we feel it is just as important to support our parents and families, as it is to support and nurture our students. Miss Lempaszek, our Head of Welfare and Behaviour, is available to give advice on approaches that might help your child and your family. Miss Lempaszek can put you in contact with relevant specialists and specific services as required and will communicate between therapists, form tutors and the senior leaders of the school.
As a school we like to have families and friends visit us for social gatherings. These are arranged by senior staff at the school. Events such as Burns Night, Summer Fair, and Christmas shows are annual events for all families to enjoy. In addition, we hold other events throughout the year. In March 2017 we held a range of events for parents to celebrate World Autism Awareness Week. These included parent speakers (sharing their autism journeys), autistic speakers, autism movie nights as well as fund raising events.
Learning opportunities for families may take place at The Holmewood School or at other Cavendish Schools e.g. In February 2017, families were invited to attend some online safety training at The Independent School. Learning at THSL may include practical workshops, talks (e.g. about behaviour or therapies) or interactive training provided by external agencies that we work with.
We regularly seek to gain the views and needs of families but if there is something you feel we could do better at we welcome contact from you.